Geraldine Huybrechts is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who offers corporate event management & social media coaching services. She is passionate about empowering fempreneurs, daring them to step out of their comfort zone and make their dreams come true by staying true to themselves and following their heart.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
10 years ago, I was diagnosed with a severe burnout and a light depression. While recovering, I suddenly pictured my dream: one day, I would be my own boss and feel free.
Tell us about your business.
My core business is corporate event management, but I also offer social media and business coaching for solopreneurs and startups.
It is becoming more and more my mission to inspire female entrepreneurs: by sharing my personal story “From burnout to a successful business founder”, and by daring other women to step out of their comfort zone, believe in themselves, listen to their inner voice and follow their heart to make their dreams come true.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Every couple of months, I offer a free coaching session on social media or business authenticity for startups. And sometimes, I have giveaways. So, keep a close eye on Instagram!
I’m a strong believer in lifelong learning at all levels: personal, spiritual, and professional. I initially studied Law. I was inspired to become a lawyer and defend my father, who is an artist and who was dealing with colleagues stealing his ideas.
I then developed a passion for organizing events and followed studies in Business Event Management plus training in Protocol & Diplomacy. I’m also very into digital marketing and I hold the Influencer Marketing certificate. Given my curious and open personality, I have many interests.
I regularly attend training workshops, seminars, and conferences, for example, on Business Psychology, the Enneagram, Emotional Intelligence, Spiritual Intelligence, Intuition development, Master your Mindset…
I was also a keynote speaker during the seminar “Mindful Exponential Leadership” with Ismael Cala, plus I have been interviewed by several (online) magazines.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Belgium, Europe. However, I used to work for an incentive house, so I’ve traveled a lot and have a worldwide network of contacts.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Starting your own business in Belgium involves a lot of paperwork! One of the most important first steps I took was to find a good accountant with whom I could discuss my business plan.
Plus of course, you need to have a good business structure and model. Your branding should reflect your services and values. A professional graphic designer built my website and created my company logo.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Networking, online and offline, is the best way to create brand awareness.
Online, your website is your business card, 24/7, so have it built by a professional and use SEO keywords. Surround yourself with professionals like a good copywriter and photographer to provide high-quality content and images. And it is essential to communicate consistently on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram).
Offline networking is all about meeting people in real life. There are always a lot of networking events to attend. Make sure you distribute your (printed) business card (also professionally designed).
Interacting with people in an authentic and friendly way remains a great way to grow your business. Most of my work comes via word-of-mouth. This combination of online and offline networking is very powerful.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Setting up a business as a single woman, without any financial back-up was very challenging. I also moved to a new house at the same time as I started my business. Outside of these, the corporate events industry has seasonal fluctuations. For example, during the summer, demand is generally low.
So, it was clear to me from the outset that I would need to organize myself in order to earn sufficient income in 9 months to cover a full year. This made me strong. I know the value of money and I know how hard you need to work to run a business. That’s also why I’ve started offering social media coaching, which is more regular and longer term.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Step by step. As a single solopreneur, you have no one to fall back on. Setting up a business is about investing, focus, dedication, hard work, living minimally, setting boundaries and no holidays during the first 2,5 years!
It is recognized that the first 3 years of launching a business are critical. I am happy and proud to have survived. I know how to put a business on the rails and I now love sharing this knowledge with other startups and fempreneurs. Offering additional services also helped me to overcome these challenges.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Life, in general, has its highs and lows. I can put difficult times into perspective because I know “this is temporary and will not last forever”. With this mindset, you feel strong and know deep down you will survive. I believe nothing is a coincidence, everything happens for a reason and you can learn from bad situations. It’s a process. Life is a process of getting to know yourself better.
For example, I was working as a subcontractor on a large event production with a difficult client. Communications were not crystal clear, there were a lot of last-minute decisions and changes. I did want to be distracted from the task in hand, so I set my boundaries, kept calm and focused.
Despite long working days, in general, 10 to 15 hours per day during several weeks, I made sure I took good care of myself by listening to my body, getting enough sleep, and finding a healthy balance.
That worked for me and in the end, the event turned out well. But based on this experience, I’ve decided to no longer engage in large event productions. My priority is to have a good quality of life.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I’ve worked for many companies – from SMEs to multinationals, to government – so I can adapt very quickly to any environment. As a highly sensitive person, I have strong emotional intelligence, I’m empathic, I understand and feel the needs of the client very quickly.
Regardless of the sector or size of a company, I only want the best for my client and will act as if I’m organizing this event or positioning the brand for my own company. Thinking and brainstorming together in a holistic way is the best way to reach a client’s goal.
I believe 1 + 1 = 3: I have an extensive network and I am surrounded by a dream team of freelancers, each with his/her own specialty. Lastly, the combination of offline communication (organization of events) with online communication (social media) is perfect. For example, for a product launch, I will also provide input on a client’s content strategy.
So, in a nutshell: I offer a very personal and holistic service. I become part of the company and pay the same attention and dedication to each client as I would to my own company. And of course, I would not be happy unless I was continuously learning and sharing my knowledge, experience, and network.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Don’t worry about what others think about you. It’s none of your business! When I was younger, I wanted to please everyone. Now, I understand that I can’t be friends with everyone. So, I make choices. I only want to be surrounded by authentic and positive friends. And business is business, so you need to be assertive and set your boundaries.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Find a mentor, you will learn a lot and you will save a lot of time when starting a business. CHOOSE WELL on all levels: on a personal level (choose your friends, your activities…) as well as on a professional level (choose your clients, projects…) Dare to say no and listen to your inner wisdom.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My iPhone X! I can’t live without it: all my emails, pictures, videos, apps, social media apps, access to all my files, are on it. It is so easy to use.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I read a lot of books. Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was a true eye-opener. In fact, it is work in progress; you have to read and reread the book time and again to understand all the finesse.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Video marketing and YouTube.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
- I would like to do more interviews to become more visible.
- I would like more assignments in the MICE industry as an influencer.
- I would like to give inspirational keynotes.
- I would like to be seen as a role model.
And perhaps my biggest ambition is to further inspire fempreneurs.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @geraldinehuybrechts, @events_geraldine_huybrechts
Hashtags #mysmilemytrademark #belgiangirlboss