Nadia Finer, is a powerhouse international speaker, author and business coach, who has helped hundreds of solo business owners to step up, scale up and make more money. When we sat down to chat with Nadia we were amazed by her feisty nature delivered in an adorable . It’s amazing to think that she would describe herself as really shy and a bit self conscious.
Nadia works with private coaching clients from all over the world, runs a group coaching program called the Profit Pack, a business coaching clinic, and is the host of the Little Voice Big Business podcast.
Nadia believes in action, even when the odds are stacked against you! Let’s get into her story and hopefully find some inspo ourselves…after all Nadia believes that, even if you’re shy, and you struggle with doubts, that you can achieve big success.
HOC: Nadia, can you tell us where your journey to be an entrepreneur started?
Nadia: I always knew I had it in me to run a successful business, but there was a pesky little voice in my head holding me back. Actually, that little voice wasn’t just in my head. You see, all my life I’ve had a little voice. Really little. Like, 8 years old little. I had big dreams and ambitions but I felt like you needed to be big and loud to be successful, and that just wasn’t me.
In general, my voice doesn’t bother me. It has its advantages; I could work in cartoons, or on some kind of dodgy phone sex line; the take-away delivery guys know it’s me when I ring up; I get what I want when I complain about something and, of course, I’m awesome at swearing!
But, professionally, it’s been a bit of a problem. Over the years, I’ve been sent off to all kinds of elocution lessons to help me channel my inner Margaret Thatcher and get some gravelly gravitas. Talk about giving a girl a complex!
I was determined to be my own boss. And do business my own way.It had to be possible to be an entrepreneur and be quiet and not full of it.
I finally got the guts to quit my job and together with my friend Em, I set off on a mission to write a book featuring interviews with the country’s most inspiring women (from Everest climbers and rock photographers, to computer scientists and famous authors) to find out how they turned their dreams of success into reality.
The only problem was – I was scared of phoning people I didn’t know. I mean, who on earth would take me seriously when I sound like I need parental supervision to use the phone. How the hell was I going to people up and arrange interviews with these super high achievers?
But then, a strange thing happened. My success rate was ridiculously good. Whether people we so taken aback by my voice, they felt sorry for me, or though I was doing a school project – who knows, but it seemed to work! At that moment, I started to wonder if I could use this thing to my advantage.
HOC: Amazing to turn that into such a strength! What happened next?
Nadia: Well, beneath the layers of deodorant, keeping my fear at bay, everything was about to come crumbling down….
After our book was published, I launched the “More To Life Than Shoes” women’s network. With groups around the country as well as an online hub, over the years I was able to help hundreds of women grow their businesses.
You’d think that by the time I launched my second business, my confidence level would be sky high.
But, as the business grew, the doubts began to creep in. Rather than dealing with them head on, I brought in a business partner to help me. I guess, on a deeper level, I still didn’t believe I had it in me to be successful.
Things soon turned sour – it seemed even she underestimated me. She started to bully and undermine me, constantly accusing me of playing it small and being weak. After a considerable and not-inexpensive legal wrangle, I removed my business partner. I closed the business and climbed on the sofa, where I stayed, nursing my rage and bruised ego and attempting to rebuild my confidence.
What if all the mean things she said were true and I really was worthless?
HOC: What a horrendous thing to feel…
Nadia: After a few weeks wallowing in ice cream on the sofa, I felt a glimmer of strength inside me. I knew that I didn’t need her. I knew I could start again. On my own. I’d done it before and I could do it again. But this time it would be different. There would be no more pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I was going to do things my way. I was going to put myself at the heart of my business. And embrace the things that make me, me. And I was going to go big. In my own way.
I was ready to break free from fakery and kick fear in the face.
But how real was I prepared to be? Would I have the courage to really face up to the thing that made me, me?
Why on earth would I mention, let alone embrace my biggest insecurity – the thing that made me feel so uncomfortable? People would never take me seriously. They’d probably even laugh in my face. I just couldn’t do it.
I took a deep breath and was reminded of a quote, by Joseph Campbell; “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
My little voice was my cave. My thing. The very idea of being open about it gave me the fear.
But somehow I knew it held the key to everything. I got goose bumps just thinking about it.
And it turns out, if it gives you goosebumps and makes you want to throw up, it’s a good sign!
It was a risk. But you know, I had to at least give it a go. Because the chances are, if I felt little – then so did a lot of my clients. I closed my eyes and decided to take the leap. That night – as I lay in bed – it came to me. “Little Voice. Big Business.” That would be my brand.
HOC: What a start to Little Voice. Big Business! How have things progressed since launching?
Nadia: Since I finally decided to be myself in my business and embrace the thing that makes me unique, I haven’t looked back. I may not be a multi-millionaire, a celebrity or a business legend (yet) but what I have done is create a business that allows me to scale. It’s little, but it gets big results.
I’ve stopped hiding. I’m out there. In the big wide world. My people loved my vulnerability. They love the fact that I share from this raw, real place. It attracted people who became my tribe, my super fans… because I was willing to show up and build a big reputation online.
My people like the fact that I know what it’s like. They can see that I too struggle with shyness and self-consciousness. I’m not your usual, confident, successful person. I talk openly about my struggles with my little voice and the challenges I’ve faced around confidence and doubt and visibility. I have been in her shoes. I’ve allowed things to happen to me. I’ve been controlled by my business and by others. And by my fears. I’ve hidden away and not stood up for myself.
Until I decided that it was time to step up and own my business. To actually be the boss. To take control. They can see that despite my insecurities, I’ve pushed through and achieved lots of the things that they want to achieve e.g. writing books, podcasts, making videos, giving talks, plus I have lots of clients. Now I help business owners all over the world.
HOC: For our entrepreneurial readers, what advice do you have for them to start their own thing?
Nadia: Running a business is a hugely rewarding, but also hugely emotional experience.
Other people seem big and brave and strong. Maybe you know if you can do it. You might be shy. Filled with doubts and insecurities. Self conscious. Awkward. Worried that people are judging you or laughing at you.
You want to stand out, but you also might feel awkward being so visible. This can make it very tempting to hide, and avoid promoting yourself and your work. Wants to stand out, but also doesn’t want to be different or too conspicuous.
Also, running a business takes a certain amount of toughness. It’s easy to allow your business to become the boss of you.
You might be allowing things to happen to you. Instead of owning your business.
It’s common to be sensitive, to take things very personally. You might find it hard to deal with difficult situations and challenges.
As a result your business is not growing or making the kind of money or impact you desire.
To help you overcome fear of visibility. I would suggest you focus on the thing that works best for you. If you hate the idea of video. Don’t do it. Try podcasting instead. Or write an insta blog. The key is to do something that you like doing so you’ll do it consistently. If every time you go to make a video you get the fear and talk yourself out of it, it’s not going to work!
Remember too that there are different types of success. There’s no one size fits all approach. Yes, some people are bursting with confidence and self assuredness and are loud and boasty. But that doesn’t mean you need to be. Try to find a way to be yourself. And do things in a way that works for you.
My advice is to try to stay upbeat and positive. The more positive energy you put out there, even when things are not going brilliantly, the more people will be attracted to you and want to do business with you. I see a lot of sad gloomy solopreneurs who feel sorry for themselves and can’t understand why they’ve got no clients. So do what you can to keep upbeat – go for a run, dance around, eat cake – whatever it is!
I would also suggest being brave enough to get some help. Trying to do everything on your own is not the best use of your time. You should really only be doing the things in your business, that only you can do. If you’re spending too much time doing stuff that someone else is better placed to do, then it’s time to outsource it!
HOC: How about any advice for people who are stuck with growing an existing business?
Nadia: For me, I stopped looking locally and started thinking globally. I focused like a laser beam on my ideal clients, no matter where they lived in the world. So, I know that I like to work with solo business owners who feel shy and worry that they’re playing small. It doesn’t matter to me if they live nearby!
Just because you’re just you in your business doesn’t mean you can’t be big. I help my clients to create businesses that scale. So that they can continue to work from home, do the school run, walk the dog, and go to the gym, whilst working with clients all over the world!
It’s so important to own your business and not let it own you. If you want to work just a few hours a day and keep things pretty chilled, then we can design your business to do that. If you want to travel the world, we can do that too. Or if you want to wear pyjamas and never leave the house we can do that too. The important thing is to design your business around your life and not the other way around.
In my business, I’m in charge and it’s just me, there are no complications, no investors, no pesky partners, expensive premises or employees. My business is a serene, lean, money-making machine!
HOC: Where are you based and how do your surroundings influence your work?
Nadia: I work from home and from a selection of local cafes! Sometimes I just have to get out the house – I’m sure you know how that feels. The combo of caffeine and noise seems to help me concentrate and get more done. I actually wrote both of my books in cafes.
I have a cute little office at the front of the house where I do most of my work. I like that I can see what’s going on in the street outside while I work; what my neighbours are up to!
It’s totally on brand. I have lots of cute accessories and prints which inspire me and help me feel like I’m in my very own Little Voice Big Business HQ. I love the fact that if I feel like making a little video, or a podcast, everything is set up and ready for me to create something then and there.
I do think it’s important even if you work from home to have a special place for you to work on your business. Somewhere you can keep your stuff. But mainly somewhere you won’t get disturbed as often, by the Amazon delivery guy, kids shouting at the computer etc. And also somewhere that makes you feel like you’re at work, even if you’ve only commuted downstairs in your pyjamas!
HOC: What experience of doing what you do has stood out and meant the most to you?
Nadia: I love working with my clients. Watching them go from stressed, overwhelmed and often on the verge of giving up, to shining bright is truly fantastic. I love seeing clients who were stuck and scared, finally taking steps forwards and achieving things they never thought possible. Sometimes when I hear how well their businesses are growing, that they’re now fully booked, or breaking income goals they never thought possible, it brings a tear to my eye. I’m so soppy!
One of my clients just went on a luxury family holiday to Orlando. It’s something she promised her kids years ago, and never really believed she’d be able to afford. But of the work we’ve done together, and her hard work and focus, she’s made huge changes her life and the life of her family.
I love seeing my clients feel so empowered, and independent, and free. I love seeing them stepping up and becoming the boss of their business. And really owning their business and their future.
I love the fact that I can run a global business, from home, with my dog under the desk. I get to help people all over the world, and have a big impact on lots of people lives. But I can also be free to take my son to school, see my friends, go to the gym, walk the dog etc. I love having spare cash to do the things I want to do. I like being the boss, feeling free and being able to do what I want when I want.
And I love helping my clients to create this kind of independence too.
HOC: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Nadia: I love the Shakespeare quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” I have it on a bangle and on my office wall. It really resonates with me.
As someone who often feels little, and shy and self conscious, I like the fact that I have fierceness inside me; a kind of stronger alter ego. It’s this fiercer me that I tap into when I enter the boxing ring.
I mentioned my book earlier and one of the key insights from that was that most of these amazing women didn’t see themselves as confident. They too have doubts and insecurities. But, what they are able to do is to put their game face on, and look like their they’re oozing confidence, when it matters most.
I too get the doubts and I think most of the women I work with do too. It’s just part of who we are. Rather than trying to somehow become superhuman, I like the idea that you can just put those doubts to one side and fake it til you make it.
Create a SUPER YOU… like an alter ego. You won’t be expecting this, but believe it or not, in my spare time I’m a boxer. And when I step into the boxing ring, I’m BAD NAD, not the shy, awkward Nadia. I don’t melt or feel afraid, I just get on with it.
HOC: We feel like you are going to have a great answer to this one, one of our faves! If you ever have a creative block / funk; how do you get yourself out of it?
Nadia: When I go to the gym, it’s a completely different world. Sweaty. There’s blood – sometimes on the floor, and sometimes on my face! When I’m working out, I feel like I’m free of all the thoughts in my head. All the doubts are gone. There’s no room for doubt when someone is trying to smash you!
I like getting in the zone completely and clearing my mind. It helps me to think clearly so I can have new ideas, rather than getting stuck on the same thought over and over again.
Or I walk the dog. Which is a lot less sweaty.
HOC: It’s such a treat to be talking to you. Can we wrap up with some of your wisdom?
Nadia: Of course, here are the key areas that I work on with my clients, which might be of use to the House of Coco reader!
- Own Your Uniqueness – Stop trying to be like everyone else. Understand what makes you you.. and instead of hiding it, embrace it.
- Own Your Future – Focus on what’s important to you. Understand why you’re here. Create a vision of success that works for you. Make a plan and go after it. Step by step day by day. No more getting derailed and distracted by every little drama and discouraging set back. Focus like a laser on your plan.
- Own Your Values – Work in a way you like to work, that feels honest and authentic to you. Ignore what other people tell you to do especially if it makes you feel icky.
- Own Your Boundaries – Design your business to fit around your life and the time you have available. Hustle, but only if you want to. Make smart choices and focus on what works best for you.
- Own Your Numbers – Get to grips with your finances, don’t bury your head in the sand. Know what’s coming in and out of your business. Learn your numbers.
- Own Your Worth – Price yourself according to your worth and the value you’re delivering. Stop undercharging and over delivering. No more working crazy hours for tiny profits. No more running an expensive hobby instead of a business.
- Own Your Relationships – Work with people you actually like working with. Build long lasting loving relationships them.
- Own Your Visibility– Show up. Share your values and your knowledge. Be a source of inspiration and encouragement to your people.
- Own Your Systems – Put systems in place. Hire people to help you. Take responsibility for the way your business runs.
- Own Your Strength –Face difficult situations with your head held high. Stand up for what you believe. Asking for help when you need it. Connect to a more powerful you. Be confident in your abilities. Have the guts to keep pushing yourself forwards.
Find out more about Nadia’s work at NadiaFiner.com
Check out the Little Voice. Big Business. Podcast
Learn how to grow your business with Nadia’s book – Little Me. Big Business.