TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
I have my own legal advice company called Legally SMART. With Legally SMART I help (starting) business owners to get their legal affairs in order from the start. I draft contracts, general terms and conditions, privacy documents related to GDPR and give legal advice. Aside from legal advice I also give them business advice regarding other matters that need to be taken care of, I do this partly based on my own experience as a young entrepreneur.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
In October 2017 I met the owner of an upcoming business at the 3 days Millionaire Mind Intensive. He was about to franchise his business formula and had drafted his own franchise contract. He asked me to look it over. At the time I was a couple of months in my first job after law school and had just come up with my idea for my own t-shirt line. I agreed to take a look; it was not good to say at the least! So I drafted a new franchise contract for him.
I realized that there must be more of these small business owners who take matters into their own hands to avoid high legal hourly rates and costs and so Legally SMART was born. But because of the t-shirt line, it wasn’t until later that I moved forward with Legally SMART.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
Legally SMART is not my first business. In January 2017 I graduated from law school and started working as a company lawyer trainee at the leading trust company in the Netherlands. I always pictured myself as a lawyer at a law firm so this was the first step away from that. Somewhere around the summer I started to really think about what I wanted to do with my life, if I was on the right path or not.
The answer came in August 2017. I was talking to this guy on Tinder and asked him what he did for a living. He told me he was a DJ and the first thing that came to my mind was; “just what the world needs, another DJ!” At the time everybody was calling him or herself a DJ in Amsterdam. Immediately I thought that that would be great on a t-shirt. I continued to think about the current trends in Amsterdam, Hipster, Koffietentjes (coffee bars in Dutch) and Entrepreneurs (all those MacBooks in the coffeeshops) and decided to really take action on the idea and so JustWhatTheWorldNeeds was born.
The next 1.5 years I breathed JWTWN (JustWhatTheWorldNeeds). Every spare moment aside from my fulltime job and weekend was invested into JWTWN. I realized that I wanted to become a fulltime entrepreneur and not be tight to a company and boss. I wanted to be my own boss and be free. At the end of my traineeship in August 2018, I got offered a job at the number one law firm in the Netherlands. I didn’t want to get a new job, but I was ready to leave my current one and was nowhere near being able to live on JWTWN, so I took the job. I am happy I did because with that my dream of working at ta big law firm was fulfilled, I could cross that off my list even if it was just for six months. I started the job on September 2018 and quite in February 2019.
I had hired a young company for the social media of JWTWN, they too had drafted their own contracts. After reading those (again not good) I decided I really wanted to pursue Legally SMART. So from December 2018 until February 2019, I clocked even more hours since now I had an even more demanding 60-hour job and not one but two businesses! I did not plan to leave my job so soon, I was aiming for June/ July 2019, but things speeded up with Legally SMART and I could quite sooner, I also hit that point where I could just no longer spent time on a job I didn’t want to do. The best way to describe that feeling is by the poem Blossom by Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Soon after that, I realized (and kind of already knew) that for both companies to succeed I had to focus on each of them separately. And so I decided to put JWTWN on hold for the rest of 2019. It was a really painful decision and felt like a failure. It’s my firstborn. But it needed to be done so I can have two great companies later, instead of two half companies now.
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
My advice would be to follow your heart always! Get to know you and what you stand for and take it from there. As you do this your purpose and your best business idea will come to you and as long as you live your purpose you cannot go wrong. But be smart at the same time, don’t quit your job too soon, a girl has got to eat ;). Wait for your blossom moment and then jump. You’ll know when it has arrived when it arrives, you’ll feel it in your bones!
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:
I am a true optimist so I never think in terms of obstacles but rather in terms of opportunities. So my biggest opportunity was and still is ME. My own fears, outdated believes and self-sabotage is my biggest opportunities to grow as a person and thus my business. It is an ongoing process to find a balance between carpe diem and being responsible and will be until the day I die. By my daily rituals of reading about self-development, meditation, working out, eating healthy, attending webinars and seminars and still have fun, I grow each day into my full potential and the person that I already am deep inside and that can’t wait to come out.
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
My proudest accomplishment is turning my life around at age 23. Up until then, I had started and quite several studies was working here and there, not having my own place and partying way too much. After a bad breakup with a guy who told me that this was it for me, I decided enough was enough. I made a list of all the things I wanted to do and crossed that list off. Within a year I got my driver’s license in 1.5 months, got my own apartment in downtown Amsterdam (where I still alive 7 years later), I got enrolled to college and law school which I completed, just to name a few. That year, 2012, is the foundation of my life as it is today and what it will become after that. I have a tattoo on my right wrist to remind me every day of how far I have come and what I am capable of. Funny side note: the tattoo is an owl sitting on the Roman letters spelling 2012, that same owl/ tattoo is the inspiration for the logo of JWTWN.
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
I am truly grateful for the journey so far. Having a fulltime job and two businesses require some discipline, I still benefit from that time today. I also really much enjoy my new found freedom. By doing what I love, setting goals and working towards those goals I blend life and work, which kind of doesn’t feel like work. During the week I get up at six and start the day meditating for 15 minutes then I go to the gym for an hour. After that, I take a walk in the park and watch people rush by heading for their jobs as I contemplate in peace what my day will look like. As I walk home I put on a morning motivational speech to get me in the right mode. I take a shower when I get home and then start working. Doing this consistently helps me to create the life I want.
This doesn’t mean that all my days/ and weeks look like this. Like I said earlier, it is all about balance and I am very good at throwing myself off balance with my self sabotaging behaviours. But that is life and like I said; it’s an ongoing process. Key is to just continue where you left off and get up every time you fall and keep going.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
Oprah, Eckart Tolle, Michael S. Singer and a couple of other spiritual leaders/ writers. I get inspired by the stories of successful people who have made it. And I get inspired by little things. In general just life, itself is such a miracle on its own to me, that it humbles me by its simplicity and laws and makes me want to get the most out of it.
WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:
I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur. By asking the right questions; why am I here, what do I want to do with my life, what makes me happy, the right answers came. The universe will answer any question you ask, always. So make sure you ask the right questions. I don’t see myself as having a career. There is a list of things I want to do and I continue to work hard to cross all of the items of. They are all completely different things but at the same time a reflection of who I am. Therefore there is not one word to describe what I do. To me, the word career means doing one thing or different things all related to each other and that is not the case for me. Instead, I choose to surrender to life, take it as it comes and does what my heart tells me to. My life’s purpose and doing what makes me happy and contributes to the world is my career.
HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
I prepare for success by the daily rituals I described earlier on. I also constantly look in the mirror. I try to first see my mistakes and then learn from them by not repeating them. I try to live in honesty and with integrity and be responsible. I believe that life does not give you what you want or need, it gives you what you deserve. So in order the be successful I have to become a person deserving and worthy of success. By trying to becoming the best version of me I prepare for success.
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
I wrote a business plan. It is a very effective tool and also very important. It helps you to see if your idea is a good one or not. A lot of people think of it as a hurdle to get over to get funding. They write it for other people. That is a shame because it really is a good way to re-evaluate your business idea and see where it needs improvement, so you are actually writing it for you. Or at least you should be. I see a lot of requests on Facebook of people looking for others to write their business plan, to me that is really frustrating. It is lazy and setting yourself up for failure. If you are not even willing to take the time to look at and write down the core of your business, chances are you will crumble under the work that follows.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?
Like I said earlier I don’t see obstacles or disadvantages only opportunities. People compete and focus on the wrong things. Focus and compete only on and with yourself. Get to know you, know what you want and take consistent action towards your goals. Everything I have in my life I have created regardless of the circumstances at that time. That’s the beauty of being your own boss, only you can hold you down and tell you that you’re not good enough. It is all in your head. Don’t label yourself in any way, just do what you came to do.
MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…
I don’t have a favourite business tool. Most of the time I have no idea what I am doing hahaha! I do make a lot of to-do lists so I can clear my head. Problem is that I have several lists in different places, so there is a lot of room for improvement there! So I guess organizing and better planning are the business tools I would love to be better at.
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…
The best piece of advice I recently got was also the most difficult one for me. And that is to focus on one tjing at the time, whatever you focus on grows, so make sure to focus on the right thing and give that you’re all.