Learning How to ‘Entrepreneur’ Via Roller Derby, The Arts And An Internet Marketing Guru by Gemma Treharne-Foose


Gemma with the Internet Entrepreneur and founder of ‘Frontline Marketing Live’ – Jon Pemberthy

A couple of things have happened this year and I’ve found myself in an unprecedented situation due to a number of strange unrelated events. I’m not sure how I got here and I’m kind of terrified. Terrified though in the way that you feel before the big drop on a rollercoaster. You can’t stop the ride because you’re already buckled in, but you have to see it through anyway.

First of all, I’m a girl from humble roots in Tonyrefail – a town on the cusp of the Rhondda famous for a heroin epidemic in the 90s. My parents have all at some point been recipients of the welfare state (or ‘benefits’). I was the first of my siblings and cousins to go to University and obtain a degree. I’ve ticked all the boxes and travelled the world, got a steady job in a large public sector organisation, bought a car, etc. etc.
But I’ve kind of found myself bobbing along un-merrily for the last eight years. I always thought I would at some point leave my steady respectable job to live on a house boat, or join a commune and grow organic radishes, perhaps. Then before I knew it I’d joined the beige blob and found myself with a mortgage, a child and two dogs. And I was back in the Rhondda! What happened?
Entrepreneurship was about as familiar to me as quantum physics. And a bit of a dirty word. Something other people dabbled with. My Dad named his dog Karl Marx, for God’s sake! There was no chance for me and I would never be interested in trying to set up my own business. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’.
I later diagnosed myself as suffering from ‘ambition paralysis’ for the last eight years.
But then…back to this series of completely unrelated but strangely fortuitous events:
1.) My husband left the public sector and went to work for ‘The Empire’ (AKA ‘The Private Sector’)
2.) I started training with a local Roller Derby team – I found a little niche right in the valleys where having an attitude and a dirty mouth was not only celebrated but encouraged. A better fit for me than the PTA, I soon found.
3.) I found myself writing theatre reviews and in the process, picked up a pen and wrote for JOY for the first time in around 10 years.
4.) I became involved with a social enterprise where I was given theatre tickets in exchange for writing reviews. I started to build up a bank of reviews and take part in collaborative events for people in theatre and the arts.
5.) My husband introduced me to colleagues and they ask me (or challenge me) to take on some of their clients. These two gents are self-made entrepreneurs (also from the Rhondda) and encourage me to give it a go. I almost talk myself out of a job because I am so used to belittling my accomplishments.
6.) I started an intensive 12 week programme for budding entrepreneurs at the Welsh ICE centre and meet like-minded individuals who are baby-stepping it all the way to independence.
7.) I attended a marketing event hosted by one of the UK’s top internet entrepreneurs and forced myself to *gulp* ‘network’ (God, I hate that word) and ‘PR myself’. I felt like I needed to wash afterwards, but it was actually FINE!
8.) I finally figured if I could take a body blow from aggressive derby girls on skates, I could learn to cope with the rejection of someone not liking the copy I produce.
9.) I’m now baby-stepping it to increased independence and am now working one full day a week establishing my business.
10.) I have absolutely no idea where this will lead but I’m enjoying the view.
I gave a pitch to a room full of people two weeks ago and presented my business in public for the first time. This in itself was a challenge for me. I might have worked in PR for 8 years and have rather a loud voice but I am not a fan of presenting. I really was blown away by the feedback (although one of the panel members during the pitch said the ‘business’ part of her brain was screaming ‘Plans! Where are her PLANS!?’).
I have never thought of myself of an expert in anything, really. But people have always told me I had some useful skills. I think girls especially are taught to hold back for fear of not being ‘an expert.’ I became a master of chilling in the back seat and letting others lead for the longest time.
Am I now comfortable with describing myself as an aspiring entrepreneur? Well no, that’s not changed overnight, but I’m meeting the right people and attending more and more events where I meet others on a similar journey.
2016 has been an absolute stinker of a year, for the most part. But for me, it’s been the year where a small theatre in Cardiff, a collection of Roller Derby ladies and an entourage of Internet Entrepreneurs in a hotel in Marble Arch forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me the confidence to do something new.
Article originally posted by Gemma at the link below

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