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Sharon Murray: Build Your Brand With Everyone’s Favourite LinkedIn Expert

Want to establish your brand on LinkedIn? Sharon Murray is here to assist you in seizing opportunities.

Choosing three words to characterise Sharon's style on LinkedIn, we'd go with authentic, refreshing, and sweary. I'm sure she'd be okay with that, after all, she refers to herself as, "Sweary, Menopausal & Proud to be Irish."

You see, Sharon sets herself apart from the typical LinkedIn expert crowd, and LinkedIn is all the better for it.

While her expertise is undeniable, what truly distinguishes her is a commitment to shooting straight and telling it like it is. You'll know this if you follow her. She doesn't sugar-coat the truth; rather, she fearlessly speaks her mind. Her candid approach is a breath of fresh air in an arena often marked by stuffy pretence.

We've been connected with Sharon on LinkedIn for a while now, and we've quickly established that when you work with Sharon, you're not just gaining a mentor; you're enlisting the guidance of someone who values straightforwardness as a cornerstone of her professional philosophy.

Here's her journey, in her own words.

Can you tell us about your journey as a founder? What inspired you to start your own business?

I'd always wanted my own business but I never knew what it would look like. My father owned shops so it was pretty much in the blood. As a single mum, I need the financial security of a consistent income. But when I reached 51, with one child away to Uni and had been bullied in 2 jobs, I knew the time was right.

It was now or never. With 20+ years of experience in admin, I wanted to stay in that field. I'd seen this new craze of being a Virtual Assistant and decided - yep I'll do that! I hadn't a bloody clue what it was, did zero research or training but walked into work and handed in my notice.

I knew it would all sort itself out - and it did! At the worst, I thought - well if it goes tits up, I can temp. Thankfully I never needed to. That was in June 2019. In May 2020, I pivoted into being a LinkedIn Coach and I've never looked back. Since then well... that would be a Netflix mini-series (I would be played by Sandra Bullock - the resemblance is uncanny!)

What challenges did you face in the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey? How did you overcome them?

My initial challenge was knowing what to charge. My very first job was to curate and input information into excel spreadsheets. I completely misjudged the time it would take and was totally undercharged for it. 

Fortunately, the client was so understanding.

I was open and honest and said - Listen, I'm new to this and I've totally underestimated this job. His response - yep I thought you had lol! So never be afraid to say that you've fucked up.

That's lesson 1. Lesson 2 - Trust your gut. I took on a client who was a total Delboy and charmer. I knew deep down that he was probably full of shit but I was still so new to being a VA and I needed the money. The result - he pissed off leaving me with a £600 invoice that he never paid - fucker!

How did you identify the target market for your product/service? What made you confident that it would resonate with customers?

This has been an area I have found challenging but the bottom line is - my ideal client is ME. Because essentially most of us do what we do because we have struggled and been there at some point.

There have been many times when I've strayed from this and experimented with other audiences but they have never felt quite right.

My biggest learning - I had to discover who exactly I was. I had to dig deep and allow myself to be vulnerable. Once I discovered the true ME that had been hidden for many years, that was my ideal client completely identified!

What were some of the major obstacles you encountered while building your business? How did you navigate through those hurdles?

I've a list as long as my arm lol - keeping accounts, writing content, using tech, networking, marketing yourself, etc. All things that I've never had to do in my life. I could never have gotten through any of these without surrounding myself with amazing like-minded business owners, particularly in Facebook Groups. I've made some incredible friends - we've laughed, cried, ranted, celebrated - and they have made me the business owner I am today!

Could you share a specific moment of doubt or failure you experienced along the way? How did you bounce back from it?

February 2020 - I'd been a VA for 8 months and I was struggling. I didn't even want to get out of bed because I thought - What's the point? No one is going to buy anything anyway. I posted in a Facebook Group that I'd been in for a while to say that I was close to throwing the towel in. The support was insane. One girl in particular immediately rang me.

I've never forgotten it. She reminded me of my skills in LinkedIn and told me to put together a cheap package to get started on the platform. She'd phone back in an hour to see what I had come up with. I had only just taught myself LinkedIn 6 months prior but I loved it and I had thought about creating a simple service for business owners. So I gathered myself up and drafted a basic £49 package.

At this stage, I had £6 in my bank account. My friend loved it and I thought - well if I can sell maybe 3 or 4 of them, that'll pay a couple of bills. The host of the Facebook Group allowed me to go Live and promote the package.

I sold 18 of them in 24 hours. It was the day my business changed!

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How did you approach scaling and expanding your business? What strategies did you employ to ensure sustainable growth?

In the 4 years I've been in business, I've worked with 4 business coaches - some good, some not so good. Regardless I know there's always been learnings from working with them and in my view, all learning is growth.

I'm also an avid reader and have read some amazing personal and professional development books.

If nothing else, they are amazing sources of content for social media posts lol! I'm constantly asking for feedback, watching what my peers are up to, and am not afraid to experiment and take risks. In my view - what have I got to lose? It was a risk walking into work 4 years ago and handing in my notice but it was the best thing I ever did. I don't want to have regrets and wonder - what if?

Did you face any scepticism or resistance from others when pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams? How did you handle it?

I've never thought about this but - no, I never have. Because my family had been in business, they were incredibly supportive. My partner has been amazing and has gotten me out of many financial difficulties over the years - bless his little cotton socks!

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea but I've worked very hard at finding MY people and surrounding myself with people who have the same personality, character and values that I have. This is KEY!

Can you describe a key decision you made that significantly impacted the trajectory of your business? What were the factors you considered?

My whole life I conformed. I lived in the shadow of my older sister who was pretty and popular. I had spots and braces and was a total nerd! I never stepped out of line in school. I went to Uni, married the boy next door and had 2.4 children. None of which worked out by the way.

Being a business owner has taken on a huge journey of self-discovery and only recently I had the biggest realisation - all along there's been a secret rebel inside, crying to get out.

This awareness has completely changed my business - my branding, my audience, my messaging - everything! I'm no longer hiding in the shadows or following the rules. I'm a disruptive, sweary LinkedIn Coach and I fucking love it!!!!

What advice would you give to aspiring founders who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey?

Trust your own decisions. I didn't believe in myself and paid a lot of money to coaches who I felt had much more experience than me and therefore would have superior skills and knowledge. Essentially I used them as a crutch. But when I went through a difficult stage in my business and money was tight, I couldn't afford a coach.

That was when I realised that no one knew ME or my business as well as I did. I had been pulled in so many directions that I'd lost sight of why I had started my business in the first place. Never ever forget your WHY!

What role has mentorship played in your entrepreneurial success? Were there any specific mentors who made a significant impact on your journey?

To be honest, I've never quite understood the difference between a Mentor and a Coach. I've worked with people who describe themselves as a coach - never one who had the title of mentor.

To find out more about the services Sharon offers, visit her LinkedIn page.

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