INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020 SERIES:
MY INSPIRATIONS – DAY 3
March 8th 2020 is International Women’s Day and by way of celebration I decided to publish an article a day from March 2nd – 8th on some of the women who inspire me the most. Day 3 looks at entrepreneur Nikki Collins. See the full list of inspiring women here.
Nikki Collins: MD, Max Mindpower
From the victim of a tragic car accident in her teens to the Managing Director of an award-winning toy company, the story of Irish entrepreneur Nikki Collins reads like a Hollywood movie.
After living with poor physical and mental health for more than 2 years following a hit and run accident whilst still in her teens, Nikki Collins turned to mindfulness in an attempt to deal with where life had taken her. Incredibly this played a crucial role in her making an unexpected recovery.
Despite having always presumed her future lay in her work with horses Nikki began to pursue a new passion for psychology. When she became aware of the number of children affected by mental health issues she decided that this was a problem she wanted to tackle.
In 2018 Nikki launched Max Mindpower, a range of toys and books designed to teach children mindfulness as a way to improve their wellbeing.
Nikki and I crossed paths in a chance meeting at the Ideal Home Show in London in early 2018 not long after she launched Max Mindpower and I immediately loved the concept. More powerful still was Nikki’s enthusiasm and it was clear that serious research had gone into developing her toys and books to ensure that children get the benefits that mindfulness has to offer.
Read on to see the full interview with Nikki Collins and learn more about what inspired her.
what is your business and what led you start it?
I was in a car accident in my teens that changed my life. I always thought my future lay in horses, but the universe had other plans. Following the accident I became disabled and developed a range of mental health disorders such as PTSD, severe anxiety and depression and also something called Panic Disorder.
After a couple of years in and out of hospital with persistent physical and mental deterioration, I was recommended that I try mindfulness as a way of coming to terms with my new life, but I ended up recovering.
This sparked my insatiable passion for psychology. While I was studying I couldn’t help but notice the rise in mental health issues affecting children today and thought I could help.
In 2018 I launched my business where I’m the Managing Director of a children’s toy company, Max Mindpower. We make a range of mindfulness toys and books and recently developed a new app.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in growing your business?
Hard to say, I find lots of people inspiring but probably my parents, I got really lucky with the pair of them. When I was ill they always believed I would get better and when I did they encouraged me to push myself and always reminded me that I was stronger than I thought.
My father always had his own business, like his father, and encouraged me from a very young age to do the same. He was such a fan of entrepreneurship and really instilled in me that anything was possible. He championed self improvement and into his sixties never stopped learning.
Sadly he died before I launched this business, but I know he would have loved it as he was such an encouraging presence in my life.
Luckily my mother is supportive and knowledgeable, she keeps me going. They are so brave and aren’t afraid to gamble and you need that fearlessness in business.
What’s your number 1 tip for anyone struggling to overcome overwhelmand keep going?
Look after your mental health and remember that you are more capable than you think. I think a lot more needs to be done in this space and I have certainly felt overwhelmed on occasion.
Do simple things like take time for yourself to relax, try to cultivate a life away from business, exercise, eat right and try to meditate everyday.
I’m quite careful to make sure the people with whom I ask for advice have relevant experience and have a positive outlook; I just discard the rest. Surrounding yourself with positive people who understand your journey and that create the right environment for you to succeed is very important.
I think stress is natural with the amount of debt, decisions and risk involved in starting a business. Having a healthy understanding that stress is something we all face definitely helps as sometimes the worry, shame and desperation that can be associated with these things is isolating.
I have found Mindfulness to be really beneficial, especially early on in business when I seemed to be filing every role; it’s really easy to be hassled. I try to take time throughout the day to count my breaths, especially after I get a difficult phone call or email. It also helps with big picture stuff; when you are caught up in the day to day running of the business it’s easy to get stuck firefighting and not working towards something bigger.
With mindfulness it gives me time to stop thinking and strangely enough when I start thinking again it’s much more positive and productive.
What’s been your favourite miststake and what did you learn?
I try my hardest to not look at anything as a mistake. I don’t ever really look back – only forward. I think there is a fine line between learning from previous experiences and berating yourself over past failures.
However, objectively my biggest mistake was outsourcing early on, when I could have done most of that job myself and ended up having to. It was a costly lesson in the end. Now I feel that you have to learn the ins and outs of all the processes in your business, whether or not you think it’s relevant.
I started studying law as you really have to understand what’s happening in a business from every level, especially legally.
If you were to start your business again today, what would you do differently?
Time! I would have given myself more time. Most people drag their feet starting a business – I’m totally the opposite, I’m completely impulsive and I make huge decisions on the spur of the moment.
Most importantly I would have taken the time to assess costs and returns of opportunities more. In saying that I’ve learned that lesson now and I’m also the type of person that has to learn from experience.
I always pause and think when I receive any out of the blue phone call offering me some “great opportunity”; as most of them are not. This was actually the biggest cause of stress for me in my first year in business; I felt rude saying no to people and then I ended up wasting a lot of my time worrying about cash flow because strangers convinced me to overcommit. I do look back and wish I skipped all that and hung up the phone more.
On that, new businesses are targeted by companies touting “sales opportunities”, enticing them with fanciful figures and very loose payment terms. I was shocked to discover how little protection in law there is for new companies that can be the victim of gross mis-selling.
This would be the one thing I tell anyone starting a new business – don’t fall for the sales spiel, don’t be afraid to be rude and remember these people don’t care about the longevity of your enterprise like you do!
What do you love most about having your own business?
I’ve actually never had a job, so I don’t really know any different, I’ve always run my own businesses and that really suits my lifestyle.
I’m an absolute work horse, it pains me to switch off, so I love the fact I can structure my work as I like so it’s sporadic throughout the day. I like to work in the evenings and have the morning for going for a run, mucking about with my horses and also I travel constantly, so for me I can work from anywhere in the world.
I sometimes toy with the idea of getting a job (as every self employed person does from time to time) but I don’t think it would really suit me.
Where can people find out more about your business?
Our website is www.max-mindpower.com and our social handles are @maxmindpower on twitter and instagram.
Thank you so much to Nikki Collins for sharing her story!
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