BITE Focus

“You have to let your inner coach be louder than your inner critic”

The This Way Up panel at BITE LIVE 2020 explored how best to focus on and launch a new project, to build your confidence and take your time.


Every single one of us has ideas we’ve never executed. First chapters under our bed, business plans on the back of a napkin only to be left  scrunched up in the pocket of a coat. Because it is in the execution of those ideas that the magic lies, in the launch of a new business that is made reality. 

As Sarah Ellis, Co-Founder of Amazing If explains: “Until you start you don’t know, until you start you can’t learn. You just need to get started.” Ellis was speaking alongside Sherry Collins, Founder, Editor and Creative Director of The Pitch Fanzine on a panel at BITE LIVE 2020 co-hosted by Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief and Rebecca Rowntree, Creative Director and Host of the This Way Up podcast. 

Rowntree, Ellis and Collins are all entrepreneurs who have taken an idea and made it reality, no mean feat at the best of times let alone those we are living through at the moment. They offered their practical advice and tips to all those looking to do the same or simply those wishing to boost their creative confidence. 

Move away from the destination and actually think about, day to day, how am I moving forward with positive momentum?

Sarah Ellis

Give your idea the space to breathe

Collins started the Pitch Fanzine almost five years ago with an original intention to showcase talent. She says of the process that she took her time with bringing the brand into the world. “I gave it time instead of rushing,” she says. 

Ellis is quick to point out that although Amazing If has been around since 2013, she didn’t in fact intend to create a business or a “side project”, a phrase she says didn’t even exist back when her and her Co-Founder Helen Tupper first embarked on the Amazing If journey. She points out that she too has lots of ideas that she does nothing with; “the thing I’m best out is coming up with ideas and the thing I’m worst at is finishing things.”

What she says has been key is finding in Tupper a perfect partner in business. While Ellis comes up with ideas, Tupper organises and executes the ones worth pushing forwards with. “Together we’re good at converting those [ideas] into something useful,” she adds. The aim with Amazing If was to, as Ellis explains, “make career development democratised.” Once they had settled on their why, she says, it was about truly believing in what they were doing, advice she passes on: “having the courage and the confidence to talk about that idea in the first place and then really not worry about what it was and where it could go but just start.”

As one audience member posted in the chat, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” A quote which  is attributed to Earl Nightingale.

Moving from plans to possibilities

As Kemp noted, 2020 has seen us all moving through the same storm but in remarkably different boats. For Rowntree, this year has seen the birth of a daughter, a very different kind of new project. She says that, even before her daughter was born, it was essential for her to stay creative: “I had to keep that creative spark alive because I knew it would make me a better mother.” For her, what’s most essential when launching something new is to remember that you did it for enjoyment. “When you start something you almost have to check your temperature and check, am I enjoying this?” she adds.

Ellis speaks powerfully about the shift from plan to possibility, about checking in with both mindset and skill set. When it comes to mindset, Ellis believes, “it’s around how can we stay optimistic?” She cautions that this isn’t about being happy all the time but instead shifting perspective because, she adds, “when we’re optimistic we’re good at spotting opportunities, solving problems and asking for help.” 

Optimism is something that can be learned, she says, and also enhanced by recognising, every day, the very small successes you have. The problem is, she believes, that we are very outcome focused. We need to instead, “move away from the destination and actually think about, day to day, how am I moving forward with positive momentum?” Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write those successes down. Make them real. Then when it comes to skillset, says Ellis, it all comes down to following your curiosity. “What are you curious about, what are you intrigued by, what gets you frustrated, what are the problems you’d want to solve?” she adds. 

What’s the one thing that’s going to be true at the end of 2020 that isn’t true today?

Sarah Ellis

Time well spent

Several of the audience questions were about how to best make use of your time, how to ensure you are working towards your new business whilst also, often, juggling your full time job in the process. Ellis smiles as she points out that there are many truths about time, including the fact that we all have the same amount. But, she says, when it comes to launching a new business, “You do time trade offs and you have to work out those tough choices.”

You have to ask yourself, she says, “what does time well spent look like for you?” Ellis was frank and honest as she explained that she works a lot. And would in fact work more if her child care responsibilities didn’t occupy her time. She believes in the power of something she labels “active rest,” the process of not simply lying on the sofa watching Netflix but rather a moment, she explains, “where you are present, immersed and absorbed in something other than your job.”

For Ellis it’s about having the confidence to say what works for you because, she says, “only you know what time well spent looks like for you.” There’s no point feeling guilty she says because you have to decide what is worth the trade off. In order to do this she says, be specific about what you want to achieve and communicate that to the support network around you. Tell them what matters to you and ask for help where it’s needed. 

Ellis believes that so frequently we set ourselves unachievable goals, two, three or even four things we want to launch, write or create. She urges people to focus on just one, to make progress one step at a time. Think about, she says, “what’s the one thing that’s going to be true at the end of 2020 that isn’t true today?”

Ultimately, launching a new business in any climate is about confidence. It’s about, as Ellis explains, ignoring “those little things in your head that tell you you're not good enough.” It’s a falter in confidence that lets us believe that we can’t do something. As Ellis offers, “you have to let your inner coach be louder than your inner critic.” So, for your next idea, instead of thinking of its potential to fail, focus on the enjoyment you get from it, take your time and move forwards with total belief in the idea you are putting out into the world.

If you would like to continue the conversation further, join the This Way Up Facebook group

To watch the full conversation, visit the dedicated event page, Change, courage and creativity in a crisis