Featuring Raimonda Jankunaite from Women in Business
Originally featured on The Social Media Boss Blog. Reposted with permission.
Grab the vino, pull up a chair and get yourself comfortable!
The beautiful Raimonda and I get to talk about her journey on how she got to where she is today, what it takes to build a community, both online and offline, and the effect that networking has for us as business owners.
Alright, enough said, let’s get into it!
I’d love to start with your story. Tell us a little bit about yourself – how did you get to where you are today?
Wow, that’s a really big question. I have been entrepreneurial for the last 10 years – I say 10 years, but probably actually much longer than that. So, my dream was always to start my own business and be my own boss, that’s what I always wanted to do. My first business started when I was 21. I started out with an idea which I thought was big enough and worthy enough to pursue, which was in sustainability. I pursued that dream for 3 years, 4 years or so, straight from university just trying to build my first dream, and you know, on this journey, I found out that it was much more difficult than I thought, and the dream was much bigger than I could make it work – so that’s when I experienced my first failure and I thought oh my goodness, this is really daunting! Having this massive dream, thinking that your first idea is going to work out, and it doesn’t. It was really soul-crushing. So, for me at that moment it was either to go back and look for work or, continue pursuing my dream. But I always knew I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship and failure wasn’t really an option, so I wanted to carry on and try and find another avenue and dream to release.
So I carried on and I found work, not necessarily work, but I found other entrepreneurial gigs, and I was doing social media, consulting, website development, and I got myself into business funding, so I was helping start-ups get funding for a few years. Women in Business really found me. I didn’t set out to start the Women in Business community, it was something I was doing for my passion, a bit of fun, a way to bring women together, and I started one event in London with no plan, or this becoming anything more than what it is, which was one event. After the first event, it was a huge success, it was a sellout, and people started to ask when is the next event? And I said I haven’t got a plan! People kept asking, so I said ok we’re going to do another event, and another event, and then I started to see that actually this is becoming much bigger than what I was doing at the time, and over a period of time, it just became a full-time job!
What a fantastic story – It’s actually quite incredible! I think, especially starting off in business, there are so many failures that we need to experience along the way, and I think those are our biggest learning lessons. But it’s how we react to these, that is the biggest thing, you know, some people just aren’t built to deal with them, and a lot of people just don’t know how to carry on. But it’s incredible how you’ve just kept powering on, and it’s ended up being something that you love doing and it’s come to you! I love that!
I can’t say it was easy and I can’t say it was an easy bounce back. I think the first failure can either crush you or make you, and it was a bit of both. You know, at some stage it did crush me, and I just had to find a way to get back up. For me going back to 9-5 was just not an option, that’s not what I wanted to do, so if that wasn’t an option, I had to find something else!
My second question was going to be about if you knew that Women in Business would take off and become a full-time business, and if you knew how successful it would become, but I think you’ve basically answered that one – no, you didn’t know, it’s boomed and it’s become incredible!
I had literally no idea! I started to see signs, but you know, I just did not have a plan for it. Other people set out with a plan to make a business and it’s fantastic, and I believe people should start with a plan. But I didn’t start out with a plan, and sometimes the best businesses and the best ideas happen organically, or on its own. You start something off and you start to realise, actually, people want this and people need this.
Yes! I think a lot of the time, people go the wrong way about it, and it’s more or less about trying to chase the success and the money first, and then find the happiness after. But I think if you’re doing what makes you happy initially, the success will always come, so I think that’s a big takeaway from that. Have there been any surprising lessons for you along the way? What were they and why?
The whole business took me by surprise, to say the least! Being where I was, being entrepreneurial but always feeling alone, you know, you have a few friends, your family, but truly they don’t necessarily know or understand what it is that you’re striving for and understand your journey. And people were not understanding. To be honest, I’ve learnt to be ok with that and find people who do understand me, who do get me, and that’s something that I’ve realised, that you’ve got to surround yourself with like-minded people, because your family and friends aren’t going to be your customers, they aren’t going to necessarily be your first cheerleaders. My family didn’t know or understand what I was doing for a long time until everybody else realised that I was successful, and then my family was like ‘oh yeah, this is taking off!’.
I think energy is so, so contagious! You’ve got to surround yourself with those like-minded people to be able to stay motivated and keep on trucking along. Now with 130,000 followers on Instagram, it’s pretty safe to say you’ve got this whole social media stuff down pat. Not only is this an incredible achievement as is, but the fact that Women in Business was founded in 2017 and you’ve achieved that much exposure since then – insane! So tell me, what would be your top 5 tips to anyone wanting to create a successful social media presence for their business?
There are so many things about social media that we can talk about here today, but I started off with thinking about people that I wanted to communicate with, and people that I wanted to attract to my business. When I started off in 2017, I didn’t start out with social media, I started doing what I love, which was events. Then I started with a group because the group had a purpose – that purpose was to connect the women who attended our events. The next thing that came was a Facebook page because we needed a place where we could actually promote our events. So it was kind of gradual. But when I started my Instagram, I didn’t start it just to have another channel, or you know how everyone starts and they set up all of their social media platforms – I didn’t do that.
When I realised I was going to take Women in Business as a business and create a brand, I started an Instagram page for Women in Business, but with the first thought of what does my audience want to see? What are their interests? What am I actually going to talk about? That was really important because what I committed myself to was one post a day. I said if I’m going to start an Instagram account, I’m going to commit myself to one post a day, and if I can do that, then I’ll be happy with that. That’s my only commitment, and I thought ok, I need to know what do they want to know about. So I thought about myself – what would I want to see? Because I was running a platform, not necessarily for me, but for women like me. So I thought about that and wanting to build something distinctive, so a brand was important to me. A brand, the visuals, the look and feel of it, how we communicate was important to me as well. Again, a lot of people use social media and they just put everything and anything on there, and that’s not the way to go about it. You can do that on your personal profile, you don’t want to do that on your business because your business represents a brand, and you have to be conscious on what it is that you’re going to talk about with your brand.
If you can’t make them important, if you can’t serve them with the right message and the right content, how are you going to do that when you get a thousand or ten thousand or 20 thousand?
You’ve got to have the same mentality, serving the best content that you can. That was the mindset that I had, just connect with people and speak with people – and I still do that! I’ve got almost 130,000 followers now and I manage my account myself, I respond to people myself and talk to them, really, truly talk to them and comment on their stuff as well, and tell them how great their account is as well, because social media is that, being social. It’s not there just for promotion, it’s there to be connecting with other people, that’s what it’s for.
YAS! I could not agree more, and it all makes sense on how you’ve gotten to where you are! You have got to engage like you said, social media is for being social! I really, really love those tips and I think a lot of people tuning in will definitely be able to take a lot of things away from that. I’d love to talk about the effects that networking has for us biz owners. With a business like Women in Business, that revolves around connecting ambitious women in business together from all over the globe, what sort of impact has this had on your business?
It became a business. To start with, I had to really stop what I was doing to pursue this 100%, because when something starts to really work, you have to dedicate your time, and your passion, and your effort into it – so it transformed my life! I definitely saw when we started to reach 10,000 and more followers, I started to see the whole transformation in the influence, and the way people see you, and the way people talk to you, and the benefits you can have as being an influencer.
I didn’t set out for that, but it’s kind of the byproduct of your success, or when you’re becoming more successful people start to see it, they want to associate with you, they want to work with you, they want to collaborate with you, they want to host events with you – it really becomes this magnet that starts to attract everything around you, and it becomes a platform where you have a voice, and you have to be responsible for that voice and everything you’re sharing through it. You have to feel that sense of responsibility, and I think I had to take everything a lot more serious when it comes to my business and put certain procedures in place because when you go at that rate, you’ve got to really have the boundaries set. That’s really important because if someone asks ‘can I get a shout out’, and another person comes along ‘can I get a shoutout’, you’ve got to have procedures in place in order to deal with the footfall that comes your way.
I can definitely understand that, and I’m sure you would get MANY of those requests! Now, I’d love to know, Is there a right and wrong way to network? What would be your best pointers on how to network successfully?
I have some people approach me in some very nice ways that work immediately, and other ways that you kind of just ignore the messages and think oh my goodness, but they actually turn out to be real people! There really is an art to networking. You have to have awareness of yourself and where you are, and what it is that you’re trying to achieve, but also have awareness for the person that you’re trying to approach.
In my view, let’s say, if someone approaches me for a collaboration, you have to be quite clear what it is that you want, and it has to be a two-way street. It can’t just be a benefit for one side, it has to be a benefit for two people, so you’ve got to be conscious about that when you’re approaching someone for a collaboration.
A lot of people try to do a blanket approach to everything and it’s like, you’re not going to get results at all, so you may as well spend a good amount of time to research the people you want to collaborate with, people that you want to interview or to work with, and really pursue it and get the result that you want, as opposed to sending 100 messages that aren’t really spot on and they’re not researched, just blanket approached and it doesn’t work. I really like how you approached me for this interview, you understood that I am busy, and in time I will come back and say yes to you. You just said ‘ok, would you like to set another date’, and that was really sweet because my diary does get filled up, and it’s not that I wanted to say no, not at all, I wanted to say yes, but I just didn’t have the time.
You are one busy lady that’s for sure, so I understand that completely! I think that’s a big thing, you know, a lot of people just kind of think they’ll send a hundred messages, but if they’re not personalised, people just think they’re talking to a robot – there’s no attraction to that whatsoever! But back to your community, you have built such an incredible community through Women in Business – both online and offline! What do you think has been the main contributor to this? What is your best advice for anyone trying to do the same?
I guess something has to unite them, they have to have a purpose – whether that’s an interest that you’re uniting them around or like-minded people who are coming together. One of the basic needs of humans is belonging, and community serves that purpose, giving us a platform where we feel a part of it. So when you think about creating a community or a group of people, you’ve got to think what’s that one common thing that unites us? What brings us together? If everything falls away, what’s that one thing that unites us? So creating that sense of belonging, and that unity for your community is really important, and then building the values around that, you know, values are so, so important!
One of the strangest things that everyone experiences within the community is not just a sense of belonging, but a sense of real care, support, and love. That’s what our community feels when they come to our events when they engage in our groups, they engage in our threads – they feel a sense of belonging, love and that support because innately that’s what our community was built on – values. So when you create values, and you truly believe in it, and everything that you do you follow these values, you create your community who are like-minded, who live and breathe the same values. So when it comes to that interaction, whether that’s online, offline, or during an event, they have the same sense of feeling and that belonging that’s united around these values. It’s amazing! I don’t how it happens but when you are led by the right values, I believe that you can instill that into your community and all live by them.
Absolutely! Like I said earlier, I really believe energies are so contagious, so I really couldn’t agree with that more! Do you think that maybe that’s what the main difference is between those people like yourself who have been successful in this industry, and those who have failed?
I don’t know whether they have failed or not, but I think everyone has their own pace, and I was really lucky with this community really taking off and women wanting to be a part of it, but yes, it’s true that as a leader, as a person behind any idea, any business, any community, it comes down to you to lead your community in the right way.
So there are things that obviously happen. Nothing really happens by chance, so it’s down to the leader to create that base, that platform, and then everyone comes on board. I don’t really know how to describe it, but I guess we’ve just been really lucky, being there at the right time, with the right idea and the right branding, and to be honest, there is clear need from the women for things like that. I feel really honoured to be able to serve so many women!
For any ladies just starting out in business or those even just thinking about it, what would be your biggest tip to them?
Don’t be afraid to fail. There are many times where we don’t take opportunities or we don’t want to show up – even little things you know, it doesn’t just have to be about your big idea. You will fail, that is the true answer. You will fail at some stage, but if you constantly think about the failure, you’ll never take the next step, and for you to find out whether something works or not, you actually have to take that step. So everything – all the answers, all the knowledge, all the wisdom comes in taking action and succeeding or failing – and it’s going to be one or the other. And the quicker you find out whether it’s a good idea or bad idea, whether it’s a good decision or bad, the quicker you’ll go past it and you’ll get to the success, because there will be failures, there’s not one successful person that has never failed – it’s impossible. So can’t be afraid to fail, just keep going!
And you’ve got to think about your audience, definitely, you’ve got to think about who are the people, because a lot of people build products, build services, and invest a lot of time and money without testing the idea, without testing the product, without thinking about their audience – and that’s like walking blind. You know, if you’re going to build something, you’re going to spend time and money. Sometimes people spend a lot of money, but other times, you spend a lot of time, and whichever it is that you’re going to spend is a very valuable resource that you’ll never get back. So you have to do your research, you have to go test the waters, do the questionnaires, do the basics, you know, really, really do the basics. When I have meetings with my clients, sometimes I come back to Swot Analysis, and Swot Analysis is one of the first things you learn in business school, it’s the basics. But sometimes even the basics open the eyes to your possible threats, your possible opportunities that you never thought about, so you’ve got to cover the basics before you make big leaps and big moves.
There’s a lot of takeaways in that. I really love how you mentioned that you’ve got to move past the failures in order to be able to take the next step because I think that is such a big thing. It is hard to not dwell on them, and yes it does crush you, but it is just about moving forward, taking that next step and learning the lesson from that failure in order to come back bigger and better! Let’s delve into your personal life for a moment and tell us what does a typical day look like for you? I can only try to imagine how much you get done in just one workday!
To tell you the truth, there is no day like the other.
I think that’s why a lot of us get into it as well. Working a 9-5 there are things like funerals for example that you have to ask for the day off – it’s nuts when you think about it! Special occasions like weddings, birthdays, children’s sports events – all sorts of things that are so important to each individual! I think that’s a huge motivation for it as well.
Sometimes I have my days where I don’t feel like I’m performing at an optimal level, and sometimes I just feel like sulking, and if I feel like sulking that day, that’s what I’m going to do! Just because people think you’re successful, it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. That’s a huge misconception that so many people think, that oh it’s easy because you’ve got so many followers – it’s not. I still experience days where I’m not feeling 100% motivated, and that’s ok, you’re going to have those days, but what I can’t imagine, is having to go work and pretend that I’m ok when I’m not. I think that’s the best part of owning your own business, that you can have different days and you can allow yourself the time if you need it.
So, on that note, for a woman as successful as yourself, you must have some pretty incredible sources when it comes to Inspo! So I’d love to know, who, or what do you turn to for inspiration when you’re feeling flat?
You know my biggest inspiration for when I’m not having a good day? I want to have a simple telephone conversation, or call like this, with one of my community members, one of my team members, with just another woman. Just having that conversation would inspire me to keep going again. It’s not anyone famous or super achieved, it’s just having a conversation with another person and it just gives me that motivation again that I have a purpose. I have a purpose because I am helping these people to improve, and live a better life, and build their businesses, and that’s what keeps me going. That’s what really inspires me.
I love that! I think that just goes to show how genuine of a person you really are! You’re probably the first person that I’ve actually asked that question that has come back with something like that as well, so that’s really cool to hear. Now I know you’re a busy lady and have another call lined up after this, so thank you so much for your time, it really has been an absolute pleasure chatting with you! Before we go, I’ve got to know, what’s next for you and Women in Business, and when are you heading to Australia!?
Oh my goodness, that’s a huge question and I’m actually really excited about, hopefully very soon, visiting Australia and doing our event! It’s such a good question in terms of what’s next for Women in Business because since my last event in London early this year, I pledged that we would take our events international. It’s been two years that we’ve been hosting events in London, and it’s been amazing, but now I feel there are so many women in different parts of the world that need our events and need the community around them. So my next big goal is to take Women in Business to different parts of the world, starting with the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe, we’ve got South Africa on the list, there’s a lot of places we want to go to and I think it’s going to be amazing! So I hope that Australia will be hopefully 2020, around November or December in 2020 we’re planning to be in Australia.
That’s so exciting! I will pop that in my calendar and I will be counting down – I’ll be there with bells on, that’s for sure!
Women In Business Founder
Raimonda Jankunaite is an inspiring public speaker on entrepreneurship, women in business and technology and crowdfunding. She is a founder of the Women In Business international community and events.
She thrives on seeing other women succeed in life and business, that is why she dedicated the last few years in Mentoring, Coaching and Empowering Women through the work of the Women in Business Club.
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