Shevonne Joyce Jemimah Ashleigh

Female Leaders, Shevonne Joyce and Jemimah Ashleigh, The Business Experiment Podcast

Shevonne Joyce and Jemimah Ashleigh, Co-Founders of The Business Experiment Podcast decided on a whim to start a business podcast to share with the world the REAL ‘guts spilling’, tumultuous journey of entrepreneurship. This was based on their day job personal experience as entrepreneurs: Shevonne is Founder of Yellow Palomino, offering professional business coaching to female entrepreneurs, and Jemimah is Founder of Tangs Design, a bespoke handmade jewellery business.

Little did they expect that their candid conversations would attract listeners in over 30 countries, barely 6 months in. In a world that venerates ideals of material and aesthetic perfection, and overnight success mythology, stories of struggle are often hidden or celebrated well after the fact. This is comforting to those who made it through the tunnel to the other end, but seriously discouraging to business owners who are presently running the gauntlet of start up stress.

By baring their personal and professional vulnerabilities throughout their ‘live’ journey, and encouraging other business owners to do the same, Shevonne and Jemimah constantly demonstrate courageous leadership, and have inspired a devoted following.

Since The Business Experiment started in 2016 you have amassed listeners in over 30 countries. As leaders, how do you want to influence this tribe?

As leaders, we want to connect with business owners out there and let them know they are not alone. We’ve created a tribe of business owners who not only feel supported, but support each other and are REAL about where they are in business.

Shevonne: “There are far too many businesses failing and business owners crashing and burning because many people enter the world of business and entrepreneurship without understanding what it actually takes to be successful in business. Why would they? Not many people have spoken candidly about this before our podcast.”

Jemimah: “The majority of us are solopreneurs and it’s a difficult journey to navigate. We created a community where we could talk about the business real. So much of what people see is the end result of someone’s success, not the journey in between.”

What marketing and communications strategies have been successful in growing such a large podcast audience in such a short period of time?

Our strategy has been simple from day one. Let’s talk about the real of being in a business and document this in real time. From the moment we launched, we have gone out and authentically cared about our audience. Everything we do is to help them.

There are two Gary Vee quotes that apply to our strategy: 1. The best marketing strategy: CARE. 2. Document, don’t create.

Shevonne: “We live our promise of documenting the good, bad and ugly by talking about our wins and our biggest (sometimes public) failures in real time. Who else really talks about their failures in real time? It’s usually past tense like, ‘5 years ago I was selling everything I owned to fund my business and now I make $50 million a year.’ We’ve given business owners a safe space to talk about the real of that, and this was desperately missing.”

What is your greatest WHAT THE BLEEP moment of all the WHAT THE BLEEP moments you have heard to date?

We interviewed Leanne Kemp from Everledger recently. We connected with her to see her chucking on her pink ugg boots and running out the door. She explained that we’d have to interview her from an Uber. She had just received a royal invitation to meet Prince Charles and accept an award, so she had to dash to the office.

This was literally the coolest, most insane what the bleep that we’ve had the privilege to witness!

What are some of the lessons you have personally learned from the people you have interviewed?

Successful entrepreneurs have a few things in common:

  1. They didn’t always know where to start – they just started.
  2. Most have an insane amount of belief in themselves, even when the entire world doesn’t believe in them.
  3. They are relentless in their pursuit for success. They don’t sit there complaining about problems, they find a way around them and they work hard.

Shevonne: “You will find that truly successful people are the ones who don’t tear others down. They celebrate their own success and that of others. They’re also not afraid to take risks and approach things with the attitude of, ‘the worst they can say is no, the best they can say is yes.’”

Jemimah: “They don’t overthink it and figure it out as they go along. Every single person we’ve interviewed knew the greatest rule for entrepreneurs. There is no substitute for hard work. They all believed in the end goal and were obsessed with it.”

What’s been your greatest challenge?

Our greatest challenge has also been our most amazing achievement, our rapid growth. We knew we had nailed our niche but still did not anticipate our podcast would grow as quickly as it has. We literally started this as a fun side project by googling ‘how to start a podcast.’ The next minute we’re in 30+ countries, being interviewed by leadership experts giving advice on thought leadership and listed as the #3 business podcast you should be listening to next to Ted Talks Business.

People often think that this is the dream. Let us assure you it’s not always what it seems! We have literally spent the first 6 months of our business like squirrels at a rave. We had to manage our exploding business with existing resources, which meant VERY long hours, juggling unexpected bills, much laughter, many tears and what the bleeps. Not to mention, we both have our own separate businesses! We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way in hindsight though.

Shevonne: “In addition, we were suddenly put more in the public light than we anticipated and suddenly people started coming up to us at events and asking “are you Shevonne from the podcast?” It was a bit daunting at first. We had to sit down and work out how we wanted to manage our public and personal lives.”

Jemimah: “The growth was amazing and really challenging but we’ve also had the difficult task of navigating a business over an online relationship. We have been based in different states this entire time and now different time zones! We’ve lived on Skype, Facebook Messenger, Zoom and texting each other. We’ve had to make life changing decisions over Facebook. We have made it work but when technology fails us, it’s failed hard! We’ve also had to be so honest and trusting in each other. We have seriously talked more to each other than our own husbands.”

What are you most proud of?

Shevonne: “Moments like when people write in to us and tell us that our podcast has saved them from quitting their business.”

Jemimah: “Honestly, it blows my mind a little that we created this whole movement after a simple passing comment on the phone with each other. I’m proud that we’ve held the same idea and built something more amazing than we could have ever imagined.”

What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?

Before we started our podcast, we had people say to us, “who is going to want to listen to you two talking about business?” 6 months later 30+ countries are listening and our listener base grows daily. If we had listened to those people, we would never have started.

Shevonne: “Worry less about where you’re starting and just get started somehow. Do your best and give it your all. You are enough just by being you, exactly as you are.”

Jemimah: “Get really clear on what you want to achieve and what your vision is. It can change over time, that’s fine but get really specific on what you want. Once you have that clear, you are able to reverse engineer how you are going to get there.

You don’t build a wall in a day. You lay one brick perfectly followed by the next one, and so on. Remember: We don’t get what we ‘want’, we get what we have to have.”

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.