Hi, Sophie. Welcome to the show. For those who are listening, who is Sophie Thorne?
Hi, Jaz. Thank you so much for having me. I am a serial entrepreneur.
And my job title, if you will, is business strategist. I help women make the shift from solopreneur (when they’re running their business by themselves) to CEO – so that they can grow their business with ease. I work predominantly with female entrepreneurs looking to do three things; streamline their strategy, create scalable systems and develop a CEO mindset.
I’m sure we’ll dig into this in more detail in our conversation but I started by working for a corporation for eight years as a strategy consultant. I then set up Scaled and then subsequently exited my first business, which was an eCommerce business.
And I really learnt what works and what doesn’t work in the process, which is what led me to build this current business where I can help other women to not make the same mistakes I made, and to be able to have the life and business of their dreams.
I love that you’ve kept that strategy thread throughout. How did you get into corporate strategy? Was that something you were super deliberate about? Or was it a more romantic story?
Yes. And no. So I studied French and Spanish literature at Cambridge. I loved it, but certainly not the most vocational degree in terms of graduating and knowing what path to go down. When I graduated, I was a little bit lost about what I wanted to do.
I had spent a year abroad living in Paris, where I was a project manager at a translation company. And what I’d learned through that was that I like to organise people, and I like to organise things, and I liked that kind of higher-level view of things, that bird’s eye view approach.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have an attention to detail, but I don’t want to be doing the task, I prefer that kind of higher-level view. I found myself managing a pub in Mayfair whilst I was trying to figure out what I should do with my life.
I remember being quite disheartened, so I sat down with my dad, who was the best person to speak to about these kinds of things and he told me to write a list of all of the things that I was good at, and start there.
With this list, I started to understand what my strengths were, what my weaknesses were, what I liked doing and what I didn’t like doing. So even though I couldn’t find the career I wanted, I had an idea of what I didn’t want.
I then put my strengths into a search engine for careers and consulting popped up. I don’t know if you’d call that romantic.
It’s definitely very random. Like a new age matchmaking.
And as it happens, it was absolutely the right career for me and has really laid the foundation for everything I’ve done since. I did fall into it. And I speak to people now who are early on in their careers or people looking to start businesses and I tell them not to worry so much.
I think people get hung up on perfection whereas actually, you can fall into something and it tends to work out. Even if the job itself doesn’t work out, you get something out of that experience that you can then apply to something else.
I was definitely like that at school and university. I see life or a career as puzzle pieces, and we’re just putting them together.
It isn’t going to be a lovely straight line, but inevitably, the puzzle pieces will fit together. I love structure, which does mean that the more creative side of things is a little bit harder for me as I have a very neat, very tidy, very organised view of things.
What made me good as a consultant now makes me good as an entrepreneur and is effectively what I help people with – because that very much is my zone of genius.
What is a zone of genius?
A zone of genius is really when you’re in what’s called the flow. It’s that moment when you’re doing a certain activity, whether that’s in your personal life or your professional life, and everything almost feels like it’s happening magically, it’s just the right amount of being challenged and just the right amount of finding it easy – mixed with just the right amount of excitement.
The performance is something that you’d want to repeat, not just because of the output but because of the way that it makes you feel.
When it comes to running a business or managing your career, the amount of time and energy that you spend in your zone of genius determines how successful, how happy and how fulfilled you are.
What did you learn from working in the corporate sector compared to entrepreneurs?
I think that the idea of hard work is societal, it’s systemic to a certain extent that we are taught that you only get results if you work hard. And our education system is entirely based on that idea. Even if you choose to do something more vocational, there’s a pass or fail grade which in the real world, doesn’t exist.
I think that it’s a mindset shift that needs to happen and I don’t think we, as a nation, as a society, are educated around that shift of not everything being graded.
What is your career teaching you?
Patience and perseverance. I am now helping other people with their businesses and seeing that great things take time.
It’s very easy when it comes to your own business or your career, to think that everything needs to happen straight away. So the combination of persons and patients is perseverance. I’m not trying to combine the two words into one new word, the combination for me is around the patience to sort of sit with it. To sit in it and wait.
Allow the good to happen, allow the learnings to happen. Perseverance allows you to do the same thing over and over again, quite consistently to see the results. I’ve recently started teaching aspiring entrepreneurs. Previously, my business was very much focused on helping people who already had a business, even if it was very small.
Now I’m helping people who have an idea to start a business. One of the things that I’m trying to drill into them is, having one target market, one offer, and doing it consistently for one year. You can see, as I’m telling them – their eyes are wide, and they’re like, what? It’s an unpopular opinion but success does not happen overnight in whatever field you’re in.
And it’s about having the pace, patience and perseverance to stick with it, to keep going, keep trying because that’s when the results come.
If you could share three lessons or three pieces of advice for those who want to know how to create a career with ease, what would that advice be?
The first one is to ask for help. That does not have to be paid help. I’m not necessarily talking about delegation, it’s just that we tend to want to figure things out on our own.
Asking for help, certainly for my business, even for my career, has been so helpful.
The second lesson, which is quite a personal lesson for me, but I think is valid for anyone listening is to do the mindset work. I don’t necessarily mean that in a woo-woo sense, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I would consider myself to be quite a practical person.
I have realised over the past 18 months how much I was holding myself back, and how much my thoughts or beliefs or limiting beliefs if you will, were the reason that I wasn’t able to scale my business to the next level.
There’s this inner critic, this inner dialogue, you don’t deserve that pay rise, or you couldn’t possibly go for that promotion, or you’re never gonna be able to scale your business to six figures.
I think the only solution that I found is doing the mindset work, whether that’s journaling, meditation, therapy, whatever. There’s so much stuff out there, and you have to find the thing that works for you. It’s so important. And I think that leads on to the third big lesson, which is, just be you. I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. When I first started, I was trying to copy others for want of a better word.
I saw someone else have a certain degree of success and I’d try and mirror it. I was so preoccupied with what others were doing, I wasn’t being authentic to myself. I wasn’t trusting myself and ended up on a different path. This happened again to me last November when I overhauled my business. If you were to look at my p&l, if you were to look at my client roster, if you look at all of that it was all working, but it wasn’t working for me.
I wasn’t getting the joy, the ease, the flow. I shook it up, I shook up my entire team, I shook up the way I delivered offers and products to the world. There is such a thing as following your inner compass, and it’s so powerful. Stepping into that power, regardless of whether it’s for your career or your business is so important.
How can people connect with you and find out more about your work?