Angela Bryant is the founder of angelrated.com, an independent directory and user review site focused on the products and services most frequently used by female online business owners; and is also the co-founder of Cowork Crowd, coworkcrowd.com, an online coworking and accountability community for women in business.
She is also a podcast host, certified health coach and travel blogger. In her spare time, Angela enjoys year-round wild swimming in the Thames, singing with her choir and brain-training with cryptic crosswords and logic puzzles.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
After studying a degree in Maths at the University of Southampton and my Master’s in Operational Research, (which is basically maths for business), I entered the corporate world. I worked for well-known companies including British Airways and Vodafone, yet after a number of years, I realised that I had allowed my personal ethics, morals, and beliefs to slip down my priority list. I found a role leading a sustainability consultancy, then moved on to run a climate change charity; pivoting to work with organisations that were making a change in the world and which were closer to my heart.
However, in 2012 I suffered from burnout and quickly realised that I was working long hours and putting everything into my work in order to make someone else’s dream come true. I decided that in order to create the impact that I wanted, I needed to make a change for myself and so I left the corporate world to go traveling and refocus on my goals. I established several businesses, qualified as a health coach and created the UK Health Coaches Association, but still felt I hadn’t found my calling.
In 2017, after spending my time researching and creating different online businesses, I had a realisation about where my focus should be placed, and that started the next step of my career.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Once I had spotted that there was a lack of unedited and unbiased reviews relating to the digital tools and online courses that I was using to build my businesses, I realised there was a gap in the market and all of a sudden the seeds were planted. These seeds grew into what is now known as Angel Rated, an independent review site for online business owners, that came to fruition in 2019.
One of my goals is to continue helping other female entrepreneurs to embrace their love for what they are doing and to make a difference.
How did you achieve awareness?
Building awareness has been a continuous process since the outset. I am a member of a number of large communities of online business owners, so a lot of the initial support came via my networks. As well as sharing on social media (both free and paid), I’ve written meticulously researched guides to the various digital products and courses that are available and have shared these via the Angel Rated blog, which drives additional traffic from search engines.
For Angel Rated Facebook has worked really well, but specifically Facebook groups that are dedicated to online business owners. These are often places where people are asking a lot of questions about which courses to buy / coach to hire / tool to use and they frequently ask for recommendations. Pointing them towards Angel Rated allows them to see multiple options and independent reviews in one place rather than relying on whoever has seen their post to answer their questions.
For Cowork Crowd, Instagram has been working well so far, especially as we start experimenting with more lives and reels.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I decided at the outset that I wanted to build the business from scratch myself and keep everything in-house. This bootstrapping approach has probably meant that growth has been slower than it could have been with external investment, but I am happy that it was the right decision for me. I have invested a considerable amount of my own money into the parts that I was unable to do myself (such as the website build) but am confident that this will reap greater rewards further down the line.
What are the key successes?
As my business is women-focused I believe that I have made a positive impact across my industry with regards to taking a step towards gender equality. There are still fewer female entrepreneurs than male, and it isn’t seen as a valid career choice – for instance, it’s not suggested in schools – so the more we can do to support and encourage women into starting their own successful businesses the better – and that is why I think both Angel Rated and Cowork Crowd have had such a positive impact and been such a standout success. I also won an award – Product Creator of the Year at the 2021 Digital Women Awards – for Angel Rated, which was a very proud moment.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
At the start of this year I had been a ‘solopreneur’ for 12 years, and the year began like any other year – with the added fact that we were all still reeling from the impact of COVID and lockdown. Throughout COVID I had been part of an informal peer accountability group, and every so often we would have a virtual coworking session, which was transformational. It really helped with loneliness, structure, accountability, procrastination and so much more.
It was in July 2021 that I co-founded Cowork Crowd with a fellow entrepreneur, to offer other business women that same support. This was the first time I’d had a business partner and I have learned so much from the experience.
There is an African proverb ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together’ and that by far has been my greatest learning of the past year. By having a business partner to share pressures and responsibilities, and to check in with every day, it has meant that business growth looks totally different to that of a solopreneur. My partner has a completely different set of skills to me, and it has been such a lesson in how sharing the workload can increase progress, while reducing stress.
What are your plans now/for the future?
I have so many plans for both of my businesses!
With Angel Rated, we will be continually adding new products which are used by online business owners. This will include online courses, services, coaches, and programmes. We will also be continuing to grow awareness of the site to ensure that each product has as many reviews as possible, increasing the usefulness of the listings to the online business community. Finally, we plan to put a lot of effort into our marketing channels, focussing on the blog and podcast so that more people are exposed to the reviews and product comparisons we offer, as well as giving product owners a platform to share what they offer.
For Cowork Crowd, the newer of my two businesses, we plan to initially increase the membership with a view to appointing community managers. This will allow us to increase the number of sessions available and the number of time zones we cater for. Longer-term we plan to build our own digital platform to host the coworking sessions. We also intend to expand the membership to include courses and other resources which will further support the members with their productivity, time management, and focus.
Finally, I will be continuing with my personal goal as an entrepreneur; each year I donate a percentage of income to charities chosen by Angel Rated’s reviewers, and that will continue. However longer-term I plan to establish a foundation to fund research into alternative approaches to everything from energy to health.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Based on my journey, I would say that it’s never too late – you can totally change your life in your forties (or later!) and you don’t need to follow the path that is expected of you. If the corporate world isn’t for you, that’s ok. If you want something different from the 9-5, that’s ok too. Make your life and your job work for you and what’s important to you. And don’t ever stop searching for your true purpose in life! I would also say that success takes hard work and it’s important not to get sucked into all the flashy stories online about ‘overnight’ success – there is no such thing!
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Ask yourself what is your vision for what you want to create in the world, and how can you bring your unique combination of skills, passions, and experience together in your business to bring that vision to life? That way you always have a bigger picture that is pulling you forwards, and you are building a business based on who you are rather than trying to fit into a mould or be someone that you are not. Figuring out how to have fun along the way is also super important.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
I try never to put people on pedestals, but I have learned a great deal from the following people:
- Denise Duffield-Thomas, a money mindset mentor who teaches female entrepreneurs how to make money and change the world, while staying chilled and down-to-earth (@denisedt on IG).
- Suzy Ashworth, a transformation coach who has inspired me as she has pivoted, grown and evolved to great success over the past five years (@suzy_ashworth on IG).
- Amanda Cook, founder of Wellpreneur, who helps people to start and grow their wellness business and does so while staying grounded and connected (@wellpreneur on IG).
- Charelle Griffith, an online marketing strategist who is the queen of consistent content (@charellegriffith on IG).
- Marissa Loewen, a business coach who always shows up unapologetically as her full self (@createtherules on IG).
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
As above, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together’. I have also always loved ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’. – Anne Frank
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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