“You must overcome your own self-doubt and that awful voice in your head telling you, ‘Who do you think you are trying to start your own business’?”
Left unfulfilled with the regular 9-to-5 job, Nicola Cilliers of Purrtastic Presents has long been interested in starting her own business. But whispers of self-doubt held her back for many years – that is, until she signed up for a membership course. After realising she already had all the necessary skills, Nicola gained the confidence to turn her dream into a reality.
Since 2020, Nicola has been curating a niche cat-themed e-commerce store. Her goal is to brighten up her customers’ day with an amazing range of clothing, accessories, home décor, and mugs that celebrate kitty love through humour and style.
With this newfound freedom in running her own business, Nicola joined the HerBusiness Network for guidance and support to further its growth. In fact, her goal for the end of this year is to become a full-time solopreneur.
When she’s not working on designs or marketing, it likely comes as no surprise that Nicola loves spending quality time with her cats, Peggy and Sally (the mascots in her business logo!). She’s also committed to contributing to animal welfare causes, adventure travel, and staying curious about the world.
Who’s your favourite entrepreneur and why?
Rachel Miller of Moolah Marketing. She’s the social media queen and is probably the happiest person I’ve ever come across. Apart from that, through her, I found another membership organisation that has been a godsend in terms of the nitty gritty mechanics of how to get various marketing events done and she’s also how I learnt about Suzi and HerBusiness!
Why did you start your business and what gave you the idea?
I started my business because being a business owner will give me the freedom I crave, and have craved for my whole adult life. I find working a regular 9-5 stifling and honestly just terrible for my mental health and overall life satisfaction. So it’s a mixture of pull and push factors.
For over 20 years I’ve always had a desire to start my own business but never had a concrete idea, had no idea where to even start if I did have an idea, had no resources and suffered from that voice in my head saying “who are you to start your own business”. So I always shelved it and continued to be unhappily employed. But the seed never left and kept returning regularly, only for me to push it down every time. I even did a Masters degree in the hope that if I could just find a career I felt made a difference, then I’d be happier and would feel content. If anything, this was just a temporary distraction and my desire to start a business came roaring back to life with a vengeance after I’d finished my postgrad studies.
I finally made the leap when my friend told me about Sarah Chrisp (aka Wholesale Ted). She’s a young Kiwi girl who’s been incredibly successful with dropshipping and selling print on demand items. I signed up for her membership course and learned all about print on demand, setting up my Shopify store, and just everything I needed to get started. She made it so easy! That was the spark that lit the flame. And I’ve been on a learning journey ever since.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
My business is still very part time at the moment as I’ve only made a few sales and I work full time in a 9-5. I honestly enjoy everything – designing my products, learning about social media marketing, learning how to grow my email list, and I’d also rather do SEO than my day job, which I think says a lot!
What three pieces of advice do you wish you’d been given when you started?
- Don’t just sign up to any old course or membership because they shout about how great they are. Recommendations are the way to go. The trick is to find the first reputable person. Once you’ve got that first one, you’ll quickly link up with other amazing teachers, courses and memberships and you’ll never have to pay for a dud again. That is how I found out about Suzi and HerBusiness! It all stemmed back to Tony Robbins who mentioned someone at one of his events, which lead me to someone else, and then someone else and then to Suzi! Reputable recommendations are the way to go.
- Don’t be scared about blogs and doing regular newsletters. It all seems incredibly scary (I know they did to me!) at first but they don’t have to be. Once you know their purpose and that they can be about anything you want, the fear melts away. I put this off for over a year but have just now sent out my 4th weekly newsletter. The fear is gone.
- You must develop a love of learning and be curious. Thankfully I have this but I can see that if you don’t have this, you won’t get very far.
What advice would YOU give someone thinking about starting a business?
Think about the niche you want to serve and let the products follow from that. Don’t decide to sell product X and then try to fit a niche around that. Love and understand your niche. It makes putting in the long hours much more enjoyable and fun. If my niche was something very boring or something I hated, there is no way I could stay up until 2 or 3am making and scheduling social media posts or learning about marketing.
Klaviyo for email and mailing lists.
You must overcome your own self doubt and that awful voice in your head telling you “who do you think you are trying to start your own business…”
What skills and knowledge areas would you recommend those starting out in business get acquainted with quickly?
- Learn about getting traffic to your website
- Learn how to grow your social media presence
- Learn how to grow your email list
- Work on your own self belief and develop grit
What does your IDEAL business look like? Even if you’re not there yet, what would it look like if your business was ideal?
I’m able to work from my home office and live in a small-medium sized community, away from a big city. One that gives me the freedom to live where I want and spend more time in Canada (where my siblings now live). I’ll have the freedom to spend time in South Africa to see my parents and friends regularly as well and can work from either of these locations for several months on end.
What problem does being a Member of the HerBusiness Network solve for you and your business? And, how?
It’s going to help me work on “me” and learn to be strategic about my business (I’ve not had any focussed plans for it up until now – unless you count “resign from my day job” as a plan). Working with other successful women will help open my eyes to what is possible and hopefully put me on a trajectory I’d not yet even thought was possible.