Starting and running one business but having multiple is another world entirely! Today we chat with serial entrepreneur Dianne at Pop Noggins who has shares some words of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs and general life advice we wish we’d heard earlier…
HOC: Hi Dianne, so great to meet you. Let’s start with your elevator pitch for Pop Noggins?
Dianne: Pop Noggins is an all ages hat and kid’s accessory store. I specialise in snapbacks from babies to adults. I am proud of my little business having over 50,000 fans worldwide! We are proud of our unique yet fun designs and I love the passion that my customers have for my products.
It is the cutest when parents twin with their babies!
HOC: How fun! Can you tell us about is your journey to starting your business? We know you made a career switch; what made you take the leap to running your own business?
Dianne: I had reached a time in my life where I needed to make a change that suited my lifestyle. Whilst I loved the hustle and bustle of corporate life, I found that commuting to work and long hours weren’t great for my family life. So, after 17 years in Human Resources, I took the first step into working full time in my small businesses alongside my husband.
It was a hard decision to make! I don’t feel like I gave up my career for my family life. I felt that my journey had come to an end, and it simply wasn’t me anymore. I am now loving life. I don’t have any of the workplace stress I once had. I work at my own pace and around my family schedule. I have amazing flexibility in my businesses, and it’s all determined by me!
HOC: Sounds fantastic but you must have had to make some difficult choices when starting up?
Dianne: Oh, definitely. My husband left his job 4 years before I did to start up the businesses. At first it was really scary for so many reasons. Gone was my security blanket of receiving my pay at the same time every month, and knowing how much I was going to get.
When you own your own business you carry a lot at risk and a lot of financial instability, especially at the beginning. It’s part of the reason why I held onto corporate life for as long as I did. I was always worried about the risk. What if it didn’t work out? How would we pay our bills? Will we be successful? All the types of insecurities I had.
At the beginning we were both working full time jobs and after hours and our weekends would be spent on building our businesses. For years we saved every cent and every cent earned went back into our businesses. This continues to be the case. We continue to invest back into our businesses to allow them to grow!
HOC: So inspiring to hear about the realities of business when we all get so overwhelmed by the instagram version! What does the team at Pop Noggins look like?
Dianne: There is me; I focus on the day to day running of the business, customer and influencer interaction and management of our logistics company. I do the hat designs and also work with our suppliers on a regular basis to make sure we have the best quality products . My husband Paul does a lot of my behind the scenes marketing and ad management. I have 2 amazing Operational coordinators (both casual around university and their other work commitments) that help me with operational management and quality assurance.
I work on my business not in my business. I don’t personally pack and ship my products. I have engaged in a third party fulfilment company and they do a fantastic job at filling our orders. This allows me to focus on my business growth and other targets.
HOC: In addition to Pop Noggins, you also run another 3 businesses ; how on earth do you balance it all?
Dianne: It is hard! I try to be balanced across all 4 businesses, being a parent and keeping up with the endless pile of laundry at my house. My youngest son is in day care 2 days a week and my eldest is at school. So when they are asleep, school or day care I am on my computer or phone managing my businesses. Every week I have assigned days for work (day care days) and the rest of the time I actually do a lot of my work out of hours. It means sometimes I’m working till 11:30pm every night and working on the weekends if I need to. My kids don’t get up till 7am, so I still get 7 hours sleep every night!
The secret to my maintaining my sanity is…..I have help!
My husband and I tag team with the kids. We share everything, school drop offs, after school activities, homework, bath time and domestic chores (yes that includes cooking!). There is no “mum” or “dad” roles in our house. Work wise my amazing operational coordinators are great, because they help with work and also the kids.
HOC: Sounds like a great team. How do you maintain that work/life balance when running a business with your other half?
Dianne: Talking about work is inevitable; I feel like we work 24/7 lately! But we have a strong team dynamic and the only way we have been able to work together peacefully, is to stay in “our own lanes”. We are both equalists (there is no definition of hers and his or mum/dad), and it’s amazing that we work together like yin and yang.
We both have different strengths, we know what each other is responsible for, and we do what we need to do. If the other is struggling or can’t get to something the other steps in. Outside of work we have a great family life. Both of us get to spend lots of time with our kids, with each other and more importantly we take time out for ourselves. I love that we continue to develop both as a family, a couple and as individuals. It’s really strengthened our relationship.
There is no room for BS in our relationship!
HOC: You mention that your life is crazy but balanced, being busy is sometimes a disease and we just can’t stop! How do you take time out?
Dianne: I feel like everyone is “busy” these days. In fact you ask someone how they are or what they’ve been up to and the answer is nearly always “busy!”
I don’t find it difficult now that I am older and wiser. When I was working in Corporate I did, but not now. Because I know if I’m feeling stressed or overworked now, 60% of the time it’s something I can control.
With my business I set the pace, I’m in charge. But I know, the harder I work, the greater the reward. If I slack off the results aren’t as strong. If I need time to myself, I just do it. Same goes for my husband. There is no time or need to feel miserable in life. If you don’t have time, make time.
HOC: Love your perspective! Do you have any advice on how someone can prepare themselves for entrepreneurial life?
Dianne: Be prepared to work hard. Sometimes you don’t get a weekend, but eventually you do!
Be prepared to take risks. Some pay off, some don’t. But ultimately it’s about finding something that works. Be prepared to not always win. But take any losses as a lesson to better yourself.
Don’t live your life based on someone else’s opinion. Don’t let someone dictate every action you do based on their opinion. People are too quick to be negative. More often than not it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with where they are at in their life.
Don’t be fearful of judgement from others. Challenge the status quo and push forward in everything your heart and mind desires. Seize the moment.
The only voice that counts is yours. I can’t sit here and say, if you want to be an entrepreneur this is what you need to do. Because what I do and what I believe in isn’t going to be right or fit everyone.
All I can say is that I genuinely wish everyone in my situation all the best of luck. We should be raising people up and encouraging them to succeed no matter what they do, not tearing them down. Jealousy is a curse!
HOC: So many wise words! The ’10 years ago’ challenge is all the rage on insta at the moment, what advice do you have for the 2009 you?
HOC: The mistakes I’ve made and the journey I’ve had, have all led me to be the person I am today. But I would definitely tell myself to be more brave and to stop and enjoy the journey. I would also not be so hard on myself, I was always my biggest critic. I would tell myself that money and success is nothing without your health and happiness.
HOC: You mention you are launching a new brand this year, tell us about that?
Dianne: Ohhhhh… it’s still top secret! I can say it’s a bespoke mens lifestyle brand. Watch this space!