I was asked to sit on a panel last week for Enterprise Nation’s “Show Me The Money,” event, held in KPMG’s Platform X, and it was a real pinch-me moment.

Not that I haven’t done similar things before, I have done quite a few, but for the first time in ten years I felt confident enough to simply be me, to share my story without worrying that I will say something “wrong,” i.e. something deemed naïve or foolish by the audience; which was made up of entrepreneurs at various stages of their own journeys, as well as funders –from banking experts to Microfinance Ireland and venture capitalists to Enterprise Ireland.

I won’t say I didn’t have a few butterflies starting but there was something really comforting in taking to that stool and sharing a story I am very proud of. Without external support we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have gotten started or been able to continue at stages, and we wouldn’t feel as free to pursue the bigger picture with all the autonomy of an investor-less business. We’re proud to have smart, insightful and driven investors and appreciate the advantage of their experience. Though we’ve raised external funds, we (myself and my husband Brian) have also put every penny we have into Emu Ink over the years, and, like any business, we have had our bad days – but we’ve never given up on the dream. Never ever have we felt there isn’t a way to make it work and when you tell your story out loud and people in the audience nod and they smile and they come up to you afterwards to thank you for sharing – it is an incredible feeling, because you realise that as an individual sharing a story, being you is enough.

I know this might sound sentimental but, particularly in the early days of business, we often hear about imposter syndrome, and I have had that, at these events, many times. This time though, it isn’t that I felt I deserved to be there but more that we all have our individual stories and aspirations and beliefs and there comes a day, where you realise that it isn’t just about money, or scaling, or conquering the world – it’s about sharing what you’ve done and what you believe, so it might help the next person to feel confident in their own decisions and recognising their own needs. In that moment I felt that me and my story were enough.

At a recent event the audience, me included, was told that the number one rule for entrepreneurs was “not to fall in love with your business,” and there was a time where I would have shied away from admitting, in a similar room, that that’s far too late for me. Now, however, I’m ok with that, more than ok, because I am happy and fulfilled and what we are doing at Emu Ink, in schools and sports clubs and wider communities, is meaningful and exciting and I want to be a part of it, I want to see it to the next stage, and the one after that and beyond.

Some of us build business because of that love and if there is anything I’ve learned, as our business thankfully goes from strength to strength, is there is certainly no shame in that because you doing you, really is enough.


By Emer Cleary
Founder & CEO
Emu Ink Publishing