The Rebel Office team is so excited to publish our first Founder Feature, showcasing one of our amazing, long-term clients: Frederike Harms.
Frederike Harms is an executive business strategist and coach, helping successful entrepreneurs implement growth-enabling strategies and solutions. Frederike brings her signature forward-thinking approach and 15 years of experience working on global, multi-million-dollar projects to companies like Unilever, Mercedes, and Starbucks.
Frederike believes in clear strategies and processes to grow a business in a sustainable way. She applies her solution-focused and practical mindset and strategy to anything from the law of attraction to outsourcing. Frederike is the creator of the Scale your Genius Blueprint.
She holds a Masters in Science in Business Psychology and a degree in International Business. She lives on the south coast of the UK with her partner and her dog, Shadie.
You’re going to love her! Let’s jump in.
Meet Frederike Harms
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family – my family owns a bakery, which has been in the family since 1898. For me, it was never really a question of whether to have my own business one day or not.
I got a permanent job after graduating from university but didn’t last long before moving into a freelance role. I then gave the corporate world another chance when I moved from Germany to the UK – mostly because I didn’t have a network here and had to start from scratch – and again, I lasted 4 years before quitting my job in a knee-jerk reaction when I was so unhappy that it made me physically sick.
I’m not cut out for office politics, slow decision making and the neverending waste of effort – it frustrates me terribly.
As an entrepreneur, I can choose who I want to work with and how long for. I still work with big organizations sometimes, but only for limited time periods and on defined pieces of work.
If someone asked you: “Should I become an entrepreneur?”, what would your response be?
But go in with your eyes wide open and build a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs, because building a business isn’t easy.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t cross everyone’s mind. A lot of my friends prefer the predictability and security that come with a permanent role. So if you have been and are thinking about it, then there’s a reason for that.
But don’t just quit your job without a plan and/or savings, because you’d just make it so much harder for yourself to succeed.
What’s been the biggest, most rewarding part of being your own boss?
Being able to be 100% me.
I had to learn this the hard way. I set out wanting to please everyone to make sure I attract all the clients.
Now, I know that I only want to attract those people that are my ideal client. Those that get me. That like my sense of humour and don’t mind that I swear too much.
Tell us about an obstacle that you had to overcome while running your business, and what did you learn from it?
Finding the right business model.
I thought I wanted an online business so I could choose my hours, work from anywhere in the world and be 100% flexible. BUT when I took some time to think about what I loved most about previous roles and the moments I felt most fulfilled in my professional life, I realized that I thrive on human connection. Even though I’m an introvert, I love nothing more than the energy in a room of motivated and creative people with big walls and lots of sticky notes.
So, while I want to be flexible, I had to create a model with some face-to-face interaction – I just have to travel more to make that happen!
What is one thing that you wish you knew from the very beginning when you started your business?
That I don’t have to do it on my own.
After the initial excitement wore off, I found myself feeling quite overwhelmed and exhausted with everything I had to do. There was so much to learn too: from creating lead magnets to building funnels, from finding a name for the business to building a website. And writing so much copy! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to write so much!
And I knew hardly anyone that could relate. Most of my friends were still in their 9 – 5’s, gladly switching off their computers at night and not worrying about anything business-related again until the next morning.
I had to build new relationships with other entrepreneurs to find support and fit in again. That took some time and I had to overcome my impostor syndrome to feel like I could call myself an ‘entrepreneur’.
What are the top three biggest challenges you see people encounter when they try to set up systems for growth?
- Time. The biggest challenge is time. Setting up systems requires some time and it doesn’t generate revenue in the short-term. We’re so incredibly busy and are working hard to build a business that pays the bills and then some, so it’s hard to say ‘no’ to an income opportunity and instead prioritize something that’ll enable growth long-term instead.
- Flexibility. A lot of the systems out there are very rigid and are very difficult to maintain when the world around us is changing at an unprecedented rate. I work with my clients to create a solution that makes life easier, focuses them but also has time and space for the unexpected.
- Overwhelm. Processes and systems are often way out of my client’s comfort zone and actually triggers memories of corporate life. They’re not sure where to start and what to focus on without overcomplicating it.
Why processes, systems and scaling? What about it called to you and said “THIS is what you need to be doing”?
I’m German, so it’s a genetic thing! And I’ve been working as a project manager in the business transformation space for most of my career, so I know how to take a big goal (=scaling a business), set everything up to make it happen and then deliver it.
But also, I saw a need. So many of my fellow entrepreneurs were working in their businesses seven days a week and they were exhausted. They have that dream of creating passive income streams, taking their business online, launching new services or products, but just didn’t have the time. The solution is to get help – something that’s a non-negotiable when you want to build a business that doesn’t need YOU 100% of the time – but hiring a team adds complexity and requires you to teach them how you do things. That means getting it out of your head and onto paper. That’s where I come in and help.
I start with defining what exactly my clients want to be doing, what they want their life to look like and then we define goals in line with that. The rest is about delivering those goals.
Have you ever made an investment in or for your business? What was it and was it worth it?
Absolutely. I heavily invested in the first two years of my business: In courses (because I don’t like reinventing the wheel), in Masterminds (to build my network of peers) and memberships (for the ongoing support, resources and training).
I also started outsourcing tasks that would take me too long to do myself and take up too much time I could spend on generating revenue, I hired an accountant before I even had a business and worked with a coach specializing in passive income.
You’ve been working with Rebel Office since 2018. What’s been your biggest takeaway from working with Sarah?
I love that Sarah completely understands where I am and where I want to get to. She’s been there and always offers great advice about the next steps and options.
I love that Sarah believes in what I do on those days when I don’t and never thinks an idea is too crazy or big, but just offers her support in making it happen.
To anyone struggling right now with getting their business where they want it to be… what would you say to them?
Stick with it – you’re meant to do this. And get help. Don’t think you have to or can do it on your own. We’re too close to it to make the right decisions on our own sometimes.
And help doesn’t always have to be expensive. You can ask peers in the co-working room at the Rebel Office Resource Library for advice or to hop in a quick call to brainstorm. However, working with a coach can also push you forward incredibly quickly, so don’t hesitate too long to spend money on that either. No point in reinventing the wheel when someone else has done it and can help you do it too.
Connect with Frederike
To learn more about Frederike, her Scale Your Genius Blueprint, or to just say hi, you can connect with her on Instagram @frederikeharms, on LinkedIn, or over on her website. You can also take her quiz to see exactly how ready your business is to scale.