Why it takes a village to grow a business

North East solopreneur Jule Wilson shares her thoughts on confidence, coaching and making connections

In my field – public relations and communications – it’s important to be seen as the go-to person, the one who’ll know what to do, and what to say in a given situation to ensure that key messages are received in the way they were intended, and by the right people, to protect and enhance reputation.

And it’s great to have built such a profile, previously within organisations as an in-house practitioner, and now for my own clients. The first thing people usually say about me is that I’m confident, and that’s fantastic. I am – I’m confident in my expertise and that I know my stuff. I do a huge amount of continuous professional development to keep my skills fresh and have lots of varied experience to draw upon, which has led to the long term mentoring of others. But none of that means I’ve escaped the imposter syndrome that affects so many in business, not least women.

In it to win it

It can be tough to ask for help, particularly when you’re the person others come to for support and guidance, both personally and professionally. But none of us works well in a silo, and getting other people’s perspectives, particularly when you’re a solopreneur, is crucial to rounded decision-making. As well as that, cultivating a solid support network, in life and in business, is essential for maintaining good health and wellbeing.

However, finding the right fit, whether it be in a coach, mentor or wider circle can take time. You need to get out and about and approach people. Making connections and building relationships is the bread and butter of business, not least communications. But not all of us are extroverts with a rhino hide. For many, this can be a real challenge, and there’s an element of feeling the fear and doing it anyway required. Rest assured, you won’t be the only one who’s nervous, and telling someone that can actually be a great ice breaker at events.

One step at a time

The North East has so many brilliant networks, many of them free to be involved in, offering lots of different kinds of formal and informal support, not least 50:50 Future. I’ve sampled many. It’s best to test a few of these to see what feels comfortable for you. Don’t let one bad experience stop you finding a good one.

After struggling to find someone I was sure would be the right coach for me, I came across an article by someone who really seemed to be on my wavelength in the local business news. I tore it out, promising myself I’d make contact, and duly connected with my future coach on LinkedIn. A few months later, I had the chance to attend a networking event where she’d be speaking, and made a point of introducing myself face to face. A fantastic working relationship has developed and continues to evolve because I took advantage of that opportunity to bring about a more natural connection by meeting in person.  And it wasn’t awkward or contrived because I’d already made an initial approach online.

There’s no end game

Similarly, bonding with one individual over mutual frustrations during a training event has led to plenty of ongoing work for me, although I advocate that such candour should be offered with a healthy dose of apprehension.

When it comes to confidence, tonnes of us are a work in progress, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need help sometimes, and rather than beating myself up about something so prevalent, I see it as part and parcel of my personal and professional development. It’s something I have to work on, more than some, and that’s fine by me. In fact, it gives me determination.

The fact is, we’re all only human, and if we were all brimming with confidence, the world would be less vibrant a place in which to work. We know that a mix of different learning styles, confidence levels and personality types helps to ensure different perspectives and ideas come forward. And because I can relate to their feelings, I know I can help build confidence in others. Such empathy helps me to see things from different angles, to collaborate well, and ultimately that makes me a better communicator.


Jule Wilson is a Chartered Public Relations practitioner and photographer certified by the Digital Marketing Institute. She’s an active member of the CIPR, volunteering on its national diversity and inclusion committee, and has previously held positions of responsibility on the CIPR North East Group committee.

Also a member of the CIM and the PRCA, Jule works with a broad range of clients, and is an alumna of 50:50 Future’s pilot leadership support programme. Find out more at julewilson.com.