Nicola Peake on The Art of Monetizing What You Love
Nicola Peake is ‘The Entrepreneurial Queen of Connection & Community’ and the Founder of Peakes Private Members Club and is an inspirational business leader who has learned how to monetize doing what they love. They took some time out to share their insights with Rob Barratt, Co-Founder of The Industry Leaders.
Can you begin by telling our audience a little about yourself, your business, and what led you to pursue your particular passion as a profession?
I have crafted a life I love, having consciously created a business to fill my days with my favourite things - people, connection and incredible luxury experiences, after spending the previous few years running a business that pushed me to my limits, and working in a corporate environment which broke me. I’m on a mission to support others in business to enjoy life alongside building their empires, having experienced the flip side of the coin, when despite earning 6 figures in a career I loved, at the age of 41 life didn’t feel worth living.
I'm curious to know, what was the defining moment that made you realize that this passion could actually become a business? How did you identify the unique value it could bring to others?
After leaving corporate life with fast cars, big bonuses and luxury entertaining due to a toxic situation, then running a 20K a month business from home which ended up making me miserable, I realised that I craved connection, and community and that without these 2 things the money meant nothing. Running a business where I was alone the majority of the time and working 24/7 made me feel isolated, and was in huge contrast to what I’d loved during my career - working with, and helping people. I realised that I couldn’t be the only one feeling like this, and so vowed to fill that gap for other corporate high achievers who had turned to entrepreneurship, but were left feeling lonely, and isolated, and like they were missing out on the perks of corporate life. Peakes Private Members Club was born focusing on building real relationships, collaborating, sharing successes, asking for help, networking, and enjoying unique experiences together.
Every entrepreneur faces obstacles, especially when turning a passion into a business. Can you share some of the initial challenges you encountered and how you overcame them?
My biggest initial challenge when I turned to entrepreneurship was building the wrong business! I ‘accidentally’ created a business in lockdown, creating for others something I myself enjoyed - What started as an idea whilst drinking wine in the garden, right at the start of lockdown, became a fully-fledged business, Chouxlicious, delivering Afternoon Teas all over the U.K. I initially loved running this business from home, because it gave me a way to connect with the world, whilst we were in lockdown, but I hadn’t bargained on how I’d feel when the world opened back up - I hadn’t thought that far ahead. The rapid growth of the business and scaling it left me with a life I didn’t recognise, or want. I generated 6 figures within 12 months, and quickly went from £1000 months to £20,000 months.
But, as the world started to open up again, and people began to get back into the world, I found myself stuck in my kitchen, alone, day in and out, working 6, sometimes 7, days a week. The stark contrast between this new life and my previous career, filled with people and busyness, became apparent and I started to resent the business, feeling isolated and lonely.
I initially struggled to admit the passion had gone, and tried to bury the apathy but the business was making me miserable. Accepting this and realisingI needed to move on was huge, but around this time, I started getting out networking to get my people fix, and I saw my real character come back. I connected back to who I was and what I needed and then all became clear. I had to start again with a new business.
Monetizing a passion requires a solid business model. Can you walk us through how you developed yours, and the key factors that make it successful?
When I started Peakes Private Members Club I knew this was where I was meant to be. This WAS my true passion coming to life and I knew there was a need for it for others too - but I’d seen lots of networking events that were badly done, and also many networking organisations struggling to make any decent money. I decided from the off that I was going to target the luxury end - because this is what I desired from events, and I wanted to create unique experiences for other high achievers. I wasn’t targeting big numbers of people, I was more concerned about connecting with the right people who I could build genuine relationships with. I knew what it was like not to be the ‘popular girl’ at school and I was hugely conscious to create an inclusive community.
Many people worry that monetizing their passion may take the joy out of it. How have you managed to balance the business aspects with staying true to what you love?
I am still my own best client! I create events and experiences that I enjoy and will thrive off and so I get to build a business I love every day. I just have the added bonus that I get to make a living from sharing these experiences with other incredible business owners too. I am a very numbers driven person so I am conscious of creating a profitable business, but I’m also committed to this business for the long term so have happily invested back into it to help it grow.
As your business grew, what strategies did you employ to scale it while maintaining the core values and essence of what made it special in the first place?
As I have built the business I have layered it, so as well as networking events I now support a fabulous group of entrepreneurs looking to grow through a Mastermind, and I also run retreats. People love my events for the fun vibe that’s always blended with huge value and incredible experiences, through which people connect.
Your journey is truly inspiring. What key insights or pieces of advice would you offer to someone looking to turn their passion into profit?
1.Try to think forward and imagine what your business will look like in 3 or 5 years time. If you don’t want that outcome you need to build it with an exit strategy in mind from the early days, or indeed consider if you want to build that business at all
2. Make sure you continue to love what you do. Don’t create a beast that runs away with you, or you’ll be stuck in a business you no longer love. Keep checking in with yourself to make sure you are building a business that is still driven by passion, because even when you’re making huge profits this can lead to misery if you’ve lost the passion.
3. Think of ways to build upon your core offering - what else can you offer your audience, your raving fans, your valued invested customers - give them more opportunities to work with you, and you’ll increase your revenue potential as well ass continue to strengthen those relationships.
Reflecting on your journey so far, what are you most proud of? What future developments or projects are you excited about in your business?
I am glad that I had the guts to refocus from creating something more mainstream, as was my original plan, to creating something more exclusive. Having realised I didn’t want to attract members who made other people feel how I’d been made to feel over the years; not good enough, or ‘the odd one out’, who I wanted to attract changed, and it was the best thing that could have happened. I now have over 100 amazing members, who are creating real business relationships, supporting each other, working together, and buying from each other.