#FemaleFounders - Gaby Mendes, Talk Twenties
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#FemaleFounders – Gaby Mendes, Talk Twenties

No one has it all figured out in their twenties, no matter what social media might be telling you. 

Luckily, Gaby Mendes, Founder of Talk Twenties is here to help twenty-somethings navigate adulthood through educational podcasts, blog posts, events and resources. Whether you’re looking for advice on how to save money, job-searching tips, or help understanding your pensions, Gaby has got you covered. Heck, she’ll even give you the lowdown on how to organise your wardrobe. 

We sat down with Gaby to talk challenges, confidence and twenties. 

1. Which three skills would you say are crucial to being a founder?

My word for this year is tenacity, so the first skill I’d say is crucial to being a founder is being tenacious. You have to be willing to not give up and know what it is that you really want. When you do know, go after it and be tenacious about it. 

Resilience is also massive. Similar to tenacity, I think you have to grow a thick skin as a founder because you’re going to go through so much. There are so many different obstacles that you have to overcome. You have to be able to get up every day, even if things are hard, and keep going because your business is reliant on you.

I’d also say that being open-minded and knowing how to adapt to a situation is important. 

Sometimes what you think will work in your head, doesn’t work in reality, so you need to be open-minded about taking a different route to your original plan. Being open to new opportunities, training or software that could help you as a business owner is another important aspect. If you’re too narrow-minded, then you might not see the options and opportunities that are out there. 

2. What is your favourite thing about being a business owner? 

The fact that I’m building my own dream. When I was working for somebody else, I was helping to build their dream. But, with Talk Twenties, I’m building my dream and creating something that has never existed before. Whilst it could potentially exist without me in the future, right now it’s dependant on me building and growing it. That’s pretty unique as a founder.

I think a lot of founders would say that they’re proud of what they put out into the world, and I’m proud of the fact that my platform is all about helping others. I’m making my dream happen but, at the same time, I’m helping other people with what they want to achieve in their 20s. 

3. What have you found challenging about starting your business?

This is an easy one! With Talk Twenties, I feel like there are so many avenues that I can take the business down. We could do events, podcasts, online courses and more. But, right now, I’m the only person who’s working full-time on the business. The hardest part is deciding what we should be focusing on at the moment and figuring out what is most important to our audience. 

There are so many facets to the business which makes it really easy to get overwhelmed. I think, in times like this, it’s important to go back to being open-minded but also acknowledge that I can’t do everything at once. When I feel overwhelmed I focus on what is going to help the audience the most, and go from there. 

4. What are the biggest barriers you face when it comes to growing your business? 

A big barrier comes from the societal pressure that says that you have to have 100k followers to be considered a success – which isn’t true at all. There are 9 million 20-somethings in the UK so, in theory, they are our target audience. But, if you look at our channels, there aren’t 9 million people tuning into our podcasts. Hate to break it to you. The hardest thing is constantly being reminded that you need more followers when, in reality, you don’t. 

Your impact is so much more important than your follower count. There are so many things that you can’t see. For example, no one can see how many newsletter subscribers we have, or how many podcast listeners we have. I think it’s crazy that you end up being defined by one thing like Instagram followers. Of course, the more people that we meet through Talk Twenties the better, but I’m much more concerned with the impact that we’re having. Our goal is to help as many people as we can. If more people come across us in the process, then great, that’s a success. 

5. If you could learn more about one area of marketing, what would it be? 

For me, it’d definitely be email marketing. Social media platforms are changing every day, and it’s really hard to keep up with all the different platforms and run a business at the same time. One thing that has remained pretty consistent over the years, though, is email marketing. 

I find that people often attract me through my emails, rather than on Instagram for example. I’m much more likely to buy something through an email than I am through a social media post. Email marketing isn’t something that we’re doing that well at the moment but, in the past, we’ve had positive feedback whenever we have tried to do more of it. So I think it’s a case of understanding what the best routes to do more of it are. 

With email marketing, you can guarantee that your email will land in someone’s inbox. They may not necessarily open it, but they will get it. Whereas, when you post on social media, you have no control over where your post lands. You can even boost your email if it hasn’t been opened – you can’t do that on Instagram. 

6. How did you recognise that you were an entrepreneurial person? 

I didn’t realise. I think the best thing about my situation is that I never really intended to be an entrepreneur. I trained to be a teacher and fell into this role. I worked in a secondary school when I was 21/22 and was given a group of sixth-form students to teach. So I was teaching students that were only a few years younger than me. 

They’d ask me questions about how to get a credit card, what it was like to start renting, and what careers they should have. It made me realise that, despite having gone through university, I still didn’t have the answers to any of their questions. I thought to myself, how am I supposed to teach them this stuff when I don’t have a clue myself? 

I realised that there was a big gap in knowledge for 20-somethings and there was no support for it or space to talk about how you were feeling. At the time, I was going through a quarter-life crisis as well. I’d just moved to Liverpool, wasn’t sure what I was doing and was getting overwhelmed with it all. I realised that no one ever talks about this. Online, it seems like everyone has everything figured out but no one does. I wanted to create a platform where you could talk about those things. So, I guess I made Talk Twenties out of necessity. 

7. How do you fight Imposter Syndrome?

My Imposter Syndrome kicks in when money comes into the conversation. That’s where I feel most uncomfortable; talking to brands, asking people to pay money to come to my workshops – anything to do with selling really. I have started to overcome Imposter Syndrome by pep-talking myself, and telling myself that it’s ridiculous to say that I can’t do things before I’ve even tried to do them. 

Often, my mind likes to catastrophise things before they’ve even happened. I’ll stress myself out thinking ‘what if someone pays money to come to my event and then hates it?’ when it’s unlikely to happen. Sometimes when I get an offer for something with Talk Twenties that sounds amazing, I’ll instantly tell myself I can’t do it before I even think about it. Once I think things through, I realise that I can do it. But I’ll go into shutdown mode sometimes.

I’m really lucky to have a group of people that support me and can point me in the right direction when I’m unsure of my next move or if I’m doubting myself. If I’m struggling with something then I’ll ask for help – that’s something that I’ve always been good at doing.

8. If someone was struggling to start a business due to confidence, what would your advice be? 

That you can do it. I think confidence comes from proving to yourself that you can do something. However, if you set your expectations ridiculously high, how are you ever going to prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving your goals? 

My advice would be to set goals that are realistic and achievable. Dream big but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. In the past, I would set myself a crazy amount of goals for the week and wouldn’t feel confident in myself if I couldn’t get them all done. What I’ve recently started doing to combat this is breaking down my tasks into three big tasks. I’ve found that I feel a lot more confident making progress on three big tasks than I ever did when I was trying to do a long list of smaller tasks. 

If you’re looking to start a business right now, sit down and write three big tasks that you can do today to move that business forward. 

9. If you could magically change one thing about your business now, what would it be?

I’d really like a team of people and a Talk Twenties HQ. If I could magically change something, I’d definitely skip to that part. In a couple of years time, I’d hope that that’s something we’d be able to do. I can see the value that having volunteers for a few hours a week brings to the business so I can only imagine what it would be like if I had a team that worked with me full-time. It would be brilliant to share this journey with the people that I have now. 

10. Tell us about another brilliant businesswoman that our readers should know about 

Olivia Hanlon from Girls in Marketing – she’s amazing! Girls in Marketing is an online community for female marketers that helps them to upskill and share updated information about what’s happening in the industry. She’s in her early twenties and launched the platform not long after graduating from university. She comes from a psychology background but she did a lot of SEO freelancing while she was at university. By the time she’d graduated, she had a network of people that she’d done marketing for and ended up going into that. After a few years, she launched Girls in Marketing. It’s a really amazing platform that she’s built and she’s a great person! 

Other local female founders to take note of

We’re so lucky to have so many incredible female founders here in Liverpool. If you want to carry on discovering local female-founded companies then check out our interviews with Tracy Fishwick, Founder of Transform Lives Company and Sarah Lovelock, Founder of Lovelocks Coffee Shop.

To keep up to date with the latest news from Talk Twenties, make sure to follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’ve got more female founders to tell us about, come and speak to us over on Twitter.