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AMA: Isabel Sachs, founder of I LIKE NETWORKING

AMA: Isabel Sachs, founder of I LIKE NETWORKING

Table of Contents

We sat down with Isabel Sachs, founder of I LIKE NETWORKING, to discuss diversity, productivity, and why inspirational quotes might not be the way to motivate yourself.  

Hi Isabel! Could you share the story behind your startup, including the problem you set out to solve and the inspiration that led to its creation?

I LIKE NETWORKING was born out of a need to address the lack of equity and belonging for marginalised and underrepresented individuals in creative industries. In 2020, I lost my job due to the pandemic and after some Netflix and crying I decided to do something to support others in a similar position.

We set out to solve the problem of limited access to mentoring, networking, and professional development opportunities for women and non-binary people within the creative industry, whether they were seeking jobs or aiming to start their own businesses.

What were the initial challenges you faced when launching your startup, and how did you overcome them?

As with any idea, the initial challenges were limited resources and a small team (mainly myself!) against the overwhelming demand for our service. We overcame these by leveraging our passion and dedication to the cause, seeking partnerships with like-minded organisations, tapping into the power of online communities, as well as quickly assembling an advisory board to help steer the organisation.

Could you tell me a bit more about your team, and how you've grown the business?

Our team has grown organically, initially with support from the Kickstart programme. I also budgeted to have a financial assistant and accountant as those tasks would take me a lot longer to do on my own and they are better delegated.

But it's still super small and mainly freelance/part-time as we gear up support when we have larger programmes. We need the organisation to be small and nimble as we grow and solidify our offer.

What are the metrics that you never take your eyes off and why?

The metrics we never take our eyes off include mentee success stories, mentorship satisfaction, and other metrics that assess our impact.

Success stories and satisfaction are our main drivers business-wise.

We look at our various income streams and see where we can be more efficient in sales and leads.

Have you embarked on a fundraising journey? 

We have been a bootstrapped organisation since day one. Last year we had a grant from the Arts Council to pilot a larger mentoring scheme which was essential in helping us evolve and develop.

Diversity and inclusion are core to your mission. How do you promote this in the business itself?

We do this in various ways, one is to intentionally seek mentors, advisors and partners from diverse backgrounds. Our program is open to individuals from all walks of life, and we actively engage with underrepresented communities.

Do you have a favourite motivational quote or mantra that keeps you inspired on tough days? If so, what is it?

I am not a big quote person! When I need motivation I’ll usually call someone or go for a run – sometimes we need a rest, not a motivational quote.

But I do like something one of our mentors told me:

Think about the one thing you need to do TODAY that will drive your company forward.

It helps to focus your mind.

What's the most unusual or surprising productivity hack or ritual you've come across in your career or among your team?

I love time-blocking tasks!

My calendar is colour-coded and I use it to plan everything. I will always plan the next day the evening before. I also know when I am best suited to write applications or have meetings and try my best to schedule my time around those.

And we practise what we preach: having a supportive community around us, from fellow entrepreneurs to the mentors and advisory board, can be incredibly beneficial.

But I don’t subscribe to the idea that we need to be productivity machines. Oliver Burkeman’s book, Four Thousand Weeks, is something everyone should read!

Thanks for the recommendation! And for your time, Isabel. It's been a pleasure.
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