How To Get Off The Fence With Erica Diamond
Erica Diamond is an entrepreneur, a mother, and a go getter who proves that you can have it all if you work hard enough for it. Erica's story inspires women and young entrepreneurs to find their passion and get what they want from life. Here's how she got off the fence and turned her dreams into reality.
Erica graduated from McGill University with a degree in Psychology and minor in Marketing. She always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur.
“My plan was to get a great job, work for a few years, go back to do my MBA and then become an entrepreneur [except] I bombed my GMATS, I didn’t get into MBA school”, so instead [of waiting for another opportunity] I thought, I’m going to start my own business, NOW."
At the age of 24 years old, she took the ultimate leap of faith: she had saved up money living at home and decided to launch a website and build a marketing plan and began her journey as an entrepreneur. She sold branded promotional products (pens, t-shirts, mugs) with corporate logos which quickly became a success.
After seven years in the business, and pregnant with a second son on the way, she decided to seize the opportunity to sell her company. She stayed home for three years after that with her young boys, which is exactly what she wanted at the time.
It wasn’t long though before she got the entrepreneurial itch again, and in 2009, she decided she wanted to get back in the game. “I was really stuck and on the fence about what I could do now. I knew I didn’t want to go work for anyone, I wanted to make my own money and my own schedule. I wanted to be independent, take a risk, and become entrepreneurial… again.”
"I went to a mommy's luncheon and I met this woman who presented herself as a blogger. At the time, it wasn’t such a trend yet, and I didn’t even know what a blogger was! But after talking to her, I thought, “AHA, that could be my next business idea!” I’m going to start a blog where I will document my journey getting off the fence and will share my own vulnerabilities, as well as spotlight other women who got off the fence and who can teach us how it’s done. I will share inspirational stories, but REAL candid stories, where we can all take the leap off the fence together.”
I just really envisioned a place where we can all safely be ourselves. There were celebrity moms who caught on early on Twitter like Denise Richards and Brooke Burke who had millions of followers, so when they were sharing my articles on Twitter, it became a natural evolution of sharing. The blog simply grew organically.
From that came corporate sponsors, a book, a weekly job on TV, and speaking engagements. Shortly after, I decided to get certified in life coaching, since I’d been mentoring women in business since I was 25 years old. I have decided to dedicate my life to building other women up and helping them.
A few years ago, I really wanted to take the concept of “getting off the fence” and bring it to everyone and anyone who is stuck— men and children included. I launched the “Get off the fence” global movement, and it came with a mobile app called Get Off the Fence, where you can enter your goals, and create your monthly “OFF THE FENCE” action plan.
In November 2015, HADRY, my fourth business idea was born. I didn’t have any previous fashion experience, but it is a fashion headscarf that is water resistant and breathable, and lets you swim and protect your hair from harmful UV rays and keep it dry, all the while looking stylish. The idea came to me one day when I was at a golf course sunbathing by the pool. This young mom was swimming in the pool with her baby wearing the locker room’s plastic shower cap to protect her hair. I thought, “there has to be a more stylish and functional option for women than that,” and that was the birth of our patent-pending accessory invention.
HADRY stands for HAIR DRY (my husband thought of the name), and then the logo came to life. We’ve sold at Ogilvy’s, on HSN, on ABC’s The View and of course our e-commerce store at HADRY.co is open with our prints and styles, and we’re always looking for more selling parterships on television— American really loves HADRY.
You play many roles on a day to day basis: you're a mother, an entrepreneur, a coach, a brand ambassador, a speaker, how do you manage all of it?
Somedays are super busy, and some days are quieter and that’s exactly how I like it - I love the balance. I love that when I wake up in the morning, every day is different. So this morning, I started my day at Global TV and then I went to my son’s french play. I’m here with you now, and then I’m coaching two clients after lunch, finished with some writing this afternoon for WomenOnTheFence.com. I enjoy the work life balance that comes as an entrepreneur, but at the same time, no one should be fooled— I’m always looking for my next sponsor, my next speaking gig, my next coaching client, my next brand. I say often, “there is something to be said about that steady pay check!!" Entrepreneurship is not easy, and it’s not for the faint of heart. I have yet to find anyone who says that being an entrepreneur is “easy.” But it’s what I know, and love, and am passionate about.
What advice would you give young aspiring entrepreneurs?
1. Do the work
The way to get the confidence is to do the work and the research. So if you can’t decide what you want to do, can you marry your passion with your innate talent? Think - what am I really good at? Can you take that and can you marry it with your passion, what you love to do, and turn it into a business? Then do the research so that when you’re ready to launch, you’ve crossed every T and dotted every I. Most new entrepreneurs undervalue their offering because they don’t have the confidence in their product or service yet. The answer? Don’t launch too early or too soon - be confident so you don’t sell yourself short.
2. When ready to hire employees, surround yourself with a team who plays to THEIR OWN strengths, and to YOUR WEAKNESSES.
And always play to your own strengths. For example, in my first company, I was great at sales and marketing, and while I of course understood and read our balance sheet and income statements religiously, I outsourced my accounting. I played to my strengths, and outsourced my weaknesses. I like to do what I do best, and give my weaknesses to people who do it better than me.
3. Never start your business underfunded, and put YOURSELF, and not just your idea into your business plan when getting funding.
A great tip to remember when you’re looking for an investor or financing from the bank for your startup, is that people don’t only invest in ideas, they invest in the PEOPLE BEHIND the ideas. So, if you were salesperson of the month seven consecutive months in a row at your previous job, put that in your business plan. If you can do something exceptionally well, or have won prestigious awards in your field, showcase that. Put all your talents in your business plan. Show that you’re hungry and driven, show that you’re ready to work your idea— put yourself into that business plan as the driving force behind the idea.
4. Your unique sauce is simply….YOU.
I know sometimes it’s scary to look at your competitor or compare yourself to other people who are doing what you’re doing, (or want to be doing), but it’s important to see what other people in your marketplace are doing and ask yourself— how can you do it better? Ask yourself, “where’s the loophole?”
Identify the need in the market, and fill it, with your uniqueness. When I came up with HADRY, I looked around and saw there were fashionable headscarves out there, but none that actually served a purpose for the beach with water resistant protection, UV, breathable, and stylish. It just didn't exist, so I knew I was onto something. We then did focus groups, market research, made different styles, options, etc.… THINK— is there is there a need in the market that I can fill? Then do a TON OF RESEARCH.
Who keeps you motivated?
Myself. I don’t think anyone else can motivate us, I think that it has to come from within. Not every day I wake up motivated and ready to conquer, but still always try and push myself to work harder than I did yesterday. I work hard because I love what I do, but I also want to be a role model to my boys, and show my husband and my kids that we can work hard and reap the benefits of hard work. I want to show them that it is a very rewarding and special feeling when being creative. I am also very inspired by people who have given birth to their own idea, have watered it, loved it, nurtured it, struggled with it, and given it sunshine to grow. People like Phil Knight of NIKE, like Sara Blakely of SPANX come to mind.
What do you credit to your success?
Tenacity. Ass busting work. I am probably one of the most tenacious people you will ever meet. When you throw me out the front door, I come in through the back. Plain and simple, if I believe in something, I rarely give up. I think most people give up too early. But at the same time, I try not to beat a dead horse. Knowing when to walk away is also key. Knowing the difference just comes with age, experience and wisdom, I think.
What does it mean for you to "Be Gossy"?
Be in charge, know what you want, dare to dream, be bold, ask questions. Learn and give back!