Barbells to Boardroom - Welcome to The Fifth Project
I'm a Co-Founder, wuuuuuuut?!
It's pretty much year since I first dipped my toe into what is now the business I've Co-Founded. In one year, my life has changed from part-time receptionist and blogger/PT/nutrition consultant, to CEO and Co-Founder of a fitness business. I've learnt more in the past year than I did in 3 years at university; my attitudes, ambition and self-belief have come a hell of a long way, and the exciting thing is that there's still a HELLA long way to go.
A year ago, an opportunity was put in front of me by two people I'd met the year before, and who I know call my co-founders. They'd won a place at a start-up accelerator/incubator that provides initial business funding, as well as business development mentorship...and food and accommodation in Italy for 6 months.
Exciting? Obviously. Scary? Err...yeah. Here's the thing. I've lived with anxiety for some time (along with 6 million other people in the UK apparently), so the thought of pitching up to a new country, where I didn't speak the language, to work and live with people I didn't know that well, and do to a job I wasn't really sure I could do. Combined with the fact that I was pretty comfortable in my little bubble - plenty of time for the gym, eating well (read: probably a bit too well)...personal training and nutrition coaching business going to plan...everything under control, just the way anxiety likes things to be.
The thing is, nothing is ever really achieved from the welcoming surroundings of your comfort zone. And so I took a week off work for a, ermmm, "family holiday", booked some flights and headed to a little campus in the middle of rural Italy. I fell in love almost immediately. It was environment like I'd never seen before, like a university campus but full of innovative young businesses, people from all over the world, with little robots cutting the grass. Good coffee was ONE EURO. I met some awesome people, we spent days being mentored, developing businesses…and nights in local bars drinking local wine. It was a world away from the 9-5 I’d left a few months ago, and I knew I’d never go back. Why sit at a reception desk when I can sit in the Italian sunshine doing cool shit?
We spent 6 months there refining our idea, culminating in a “demo night” where I got on stage and pitched to nearly 300 people - the youngest female to pitch on that stage ever. (In your face, anxiety.) We moved back to London and the months since have been a whirlwind of learning, growing, making mistakes, and learning some more. I've learnt business skills I never had before, I've learned to keep going when the shit hits the fan, BIG TIME. I've gone from sitting in meetings not being able to say a thing, to leading them and coming out with what I want. I've learned that it's ok to be learning, and to make mistakes, and accepted and embraced my imperfections (for the most part) knowing that I'm getting better every day.
I haven't been “comfortable” since about this time last year, and I have no intention of being comfortable for a long time. Becoming a business founder and pushing myself into uncomfortable situations has shown me just what I’m capable of…and it’s more than I thought. The Fifth Project and community is a diary into what it’s really like to be 24 years old in the world of start-ups growing a business, and I hope a support for other young people with awesome ideas, determined to do their own thing.
If you’ve got an idea, and you’re not sure what to do, please just start somewhere…anywhere, and see where it takes you.