If you have the passion to start a business, people will rally around to support you, says IMAGE Young Businesswoman of the Year Cora Murphy
When Cora Murphy, Clinical Director of All About Healthcare, won 2019's IMAGE Young Businesswoman of the Year, it was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to improving the lives of others. Her business, All About Healthcare, provides homecare options to those who need them most, including people with disabilities, elderly people and children and young adults.
We sat down with Cora to chat about what it takes to set up a business, and the best (and worst) business advice she's ever received.
How did you manage money at the beginning of setting up your business?
When myself and my business partner came together, we had very little money - about €3500 from my end and the same from hers - but we built up a small nest egg and quit our jobs as nurses to put everything into the business. It was a few years of just saving whatever spare money we had, and then going for it. The biggest challenge was having no safety net, and having to take the leap purely on faith — but I'm so glad we did it, because I think that otherwise, you don't have the fire and the drive to really make it work.
If I had have stayed working part-time, and had a cushion to fall back on, the hunger wouldn't have been there — but on my own, I put everything I had into making it work because I had no other choice. Not everyone is in a position to do that, like if you have kids or a mortgage, so you have to be realistic about how much you are willing to go without.
In the beginning, we had a tiny little office, and no office furniture, but people were so understanding and helpful. I really think it's an Irish thing, that we want other people to succeed and do well, and when we told people we were a start-up, they wanted to help us and raise us up. We set our website up for about €300, we went to an auction exchange for furniture, we set up an internet phone as an office phone — everything was set up to save money where we could, and it worked.
People were so helpful and pushed us to succeed and it was such a lovely feeling to have that help from everyone around us, from our landlord to our accountant.
What qualities do you need to have to be successful in business?
You have to be very resilient because you are going to get a lot of knockbacks. Things won't be smooth, especially in the early days. You'll want to give up a lot, and I think it really is more difficult for women to push through that and put up that extra fight to succeed.
You have to be able to put your pride aside and ask others for help. People will always ask how you're getting on, and we love to keep the mask of "yes, everything's perfect" when really, you may feel under a lot of pressure. Tell others that you need help, and that you're struggling. Don't be afraid to appear vulnerable, because not everything can be done on your own.
The final thing is you have to love what you do — you have to have the passion for it, because if you don't, other people will see right through you. I have reps coming in all the time trying to sell us products, and you can tell straight away who loves what they're selling and who's doing it for their sales record. Be genuine, and you'll inspire others.
What was the best business advice you ever received?
It's an obvious one, but don't let the money going out exceed the money coming in. I know it sounds ridiculous but cash flow is the biggest worry for any business getting set up, and you need to know exactly where your money is going and where it's needed. It's easy to start off pumping money into it, but you'll soon see how it's depleting your own bank account.
And what was the worst?
The worst advice I got from people was to quit. You get a lot of naysayers, telling me I was mad to leave a stable job, that it would never work out. You have so much negativity around, and I've actually met so many people who were on the road to setting up their business, and quit because of negativity in their ear. I'm so glad I didn't listen to that.
Featured image: Cora Murphy being presented with her IMAGE Young Businesswoman of the Year Award by Sinead Murphy, Marketing Director, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. Photo: Kieran Harnett
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