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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Holly Wood

Holly Wood, living in Manchester, is the qualified psychologist and digital marketing expert behind Flourish First. Holding a degree in multimedia technology and design as well as a masters in psychology alongside 13 years of digital marketing experience, she’s built her own brand whilst helping countless others to grow and scale their businesses unlocking the power of ‘you’ in marketing.

As one of the original influencers and bloggers in the North West, Holly championed online digital content as a key marketing channel before opening up a platform and community via her business We Blog North. Evolving this later into the Northern Blog Awards and later into launching Flourish First, Holly has always been a pioneer of the opportunities and potential that digital marketing can offer. Championing flexibility and positive mindset she’s passionate about helping others to unlock their limits and build the lives that provide the freedom that they want and deserve.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

After university, I went straight into being an Events Manager, then a Wedding Planner and then a stint working on commercial brand activations at an exclusive central Manchester location. Back in 2010, I started a blog to document my work and life, as I was relocating from London to Manchester and taught myself the foundations of digital marketing (SEO, social media and email marketing).

As the influencer marketing industry started to boom, I commercialised my blog and hosted blogging events, alongside my full-time job and loved it! I learnt so much about digital marketing, sponsorships and collaborations and grew an incredible online and in-person community. I started a business, WeBlogNorth, which became my full time job, following being made redundant on my first maternity leave in 2015. I didn’t have a business plan as such, I just leaned into what was going well and the gap in the marketing that I’d identified. WeBlogNorth grew to a community of thousands of bloggers, influencers and content creators in the North of England and I founded the first Northern Blog Awards in 2017. Fast-forward to lockdown and I was successfully creating content and mentoring other solopreneurs to do the same, so that they could grow a brand and business online too.

I decided to study a Masters in Psychology, which I continued throughout the pandemic, alongside growing my mentoring and coaching business and certified as a Positive Psychology Coach. This unique combination of Psychology, Marketing and solopreneurship, allowed me to pivot my offering slightly and focus on supporting other women entrepreneurs to build the business and life that they truly want. That’s when my brand Flourish First®️ was born, as I truly believe that when you combine the mindset and inner-wellbeing work, with marketing and growing a business – the magic (and success) truly follows.

Now, in 2024, I enjoy supporting growing solopreneurs, six-figure business owners and have recently stepped into the corporate world, to bring the ethos of Flourish First®️ into more lives. My work with Flourish First®️ offers a unique way of looking at wellbeing and performance in the workplace, as well as success in business and entrepreneurship.

What I’m most passionate about, is bringing the science of Positive Psychology to the lives of everyone, in and out of the workplace and business space. I am on my way to doing this, with my Flourish First®️ app, set to offer a daily dose of Positive Psychology into your back pocket. The ripple effect of flourishing is incredible and I want more people to experience it.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

Flourish First®️ has been a culmination of each iteration of my entrepreneurial journey: the digital marketing expertise; the online community building; the in-person events, the Psychological studies and the coaching and mentorship. I enjoy supporting individuals as closely as I can, so creating a Coaching and Mentoring business, allows me this proximity to support people on their journey to flourishing. The recent Consultation and Workshop facilitation for organisations, has been an organic development of the business and means that flourishing and success can be enjoyed in entrepreneurship and as an employee.

My Flourish First®️ app is a total passion project. As I delved into my psychology studies and found a love specifically for Positive Psychology, I wanted more – specifically, tools that could help me apply the science of Positive Psychology to my life. When I searched, I found either academic resources or wellness tools that didn’t feel like they applied to my lifestyle. So I decided to create a positive-psychology focussed wellbeing app, that is grounded in science and wellbeing. I wanted it to have tools that anyone could easily access and try themselves – from parenting advice, to meditations and affirmations, from career development, to strengthening relationships. I spotted a gap in the way wellbeing was being presented and wanted to show that self-awareness and inner work isn’t “just woo-woo”.

How did you achieve awareness?

I’ve always utiilised digital marketing and specifically social media to grow a community online – sharing my personal and business journey to attract others who are on a similar path (or who might like to be).

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

I’ve never had funding. I started my business when on maternity leave and with very limited funds. This is the beauty of the online space, I was able to start with very little outlay. However, it was me funding the events and buying the first round of drinks, as I was growing my personal brand and building awareness.

My business didn’t start to generate an income until almost a year in, when I introduced a membership model and some recurring revenue. In the last 3-4 years, I’ve invested in my own personal coaching and mentorship, alongside building a small team, to allow me to be able to grow and scale that I want to in the next 5 years.

What are the key successes?

Conceptualising and releasing my own app, that I truly feel passionate about.

Building a business that allows me to work flexibly, around my young family and means I can enjoy both work and parenthood in the way I want to.

Helping 1000s of women in the last 8 years gain confidence and have the knowledge and tools to build their own vision of success.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

Everytime there is a global or economic crisis of some sort, us companies-of-one really feel it! The pandemic was the first major challenge for my business, as the live-events I’d partly relied on had to stop. I also see shifts in the coaching industry that have made it harder for some to grow in the way they deserve. At the moment, there is a lot of worry with money and that can lead to many feeling fearful of making the investment in themselves and their futures.

I overcome these challenges by remaining agile and able to pivot my messaging and offering. And of course, by utilising my Flourish First®️ framework and Positive Psychology tools to remain positive, resilient and determined to keep going.

What are your plans now/for the future?

My current focus is to get my app out there into the world – I’d love for one day, hundreds-of-thousands of people to have Flourish First®️ in their back pocket and be applying wellbeing, mindset and self-awareness tools into their lives, daily. Following that, my dream is to write a book, sharing my 5-Steps to Flourishing.

I wish to continue coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders within orgnisations and teaching marketing and mindset tools to help people navigate and grow in the online space.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but it can be so incredibly rewarding. I encourage you to really consider what your vision of success looks like. As business owners, we’re encouraged to think about the money and profit, which of course is an integral part of it, but when you dig deeper, that’s probably not the reason you want to start your own business. So do some work really figuring that out first, as the more anchored you can be to that vision of success, the more easily you’ll be able to face the inevitable challenges that entrepreneurship will through your way. And do not think that you have to, or should do it alone! Seek support and find communities every step of the way.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

  1. Deeply connect with your ‘why’, as that’s central to absolutely everything
  2. Discover a small yet consistent wellbeing practice of your own, that you can enjoy daily (that’ll benefit your mind, body and soul)
  3. Seek support from a coach and mentor sooner than you think – I wish I’d done it sooner!
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of building your own community! You can launch and sell almost anything when you have people ready to receive it
  5. Even if your offering isn’t unique, the way you offer it and what you bring to the table will be – and people will be attracted to that! So be sure to infuse more of you into your business and marketing

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

Oh this is so tough! I am inspired by so many people every day, as I get to see women working against the grain, to create careers and lives they truly want and deserve.

  1. My mum for being one of the most down to earth people I know and an endless source of love and support
  2. Sheryl Sandberg for being the first female on the board at Meta
  3. Munroe Bergdorf for being the most incredible trans activist
  4. Dame Helen Miren for setting such an incredible example of what being a woman in your 70s looks like
  5. Claudia Jones, founder of the Notting Hill Carnival, for the work she contributed as a feminist, journalist and political activist in the UK and beyond

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“Done is better than perfect.”

“Life has got all those twists and turns. You’ve got to hold on tight and off you go.” – Nicole Kidman

“Be courageous. Challenge orthodoxy. Stand up for what you believe in. When you are in your rocking chair talking to your grandchildren many years from now, be sure you have a good story to tell.”— Amal Clooney

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?  

Website: https://www.holly-wood.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/4533668186707012

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theflourishmentor/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hollynicol/

Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/HollyNicol