The Importance of Gut Instinct

What is Gut Instinct?

Collins Dictionary: noun – an instinctive feeling, as opposed to an option or idea based on facts.

Having a ‘Gut Instinct’ about something may sound a little ‘woo woo’. But please read on because learning to follow your gut instinct (intuition) can do wonders for your business.

Milly Inspired is the third company I have launched. The other two did well but once they were up and running I felt something was ‘off’. That feeling (intuition) was right and although they made a profit, different aspects of the businesses were much harder than they needed to be. Those businesses and I were not a perfect match and so over time I moved on. When Milly Inspired Ltd launched I felt different, very positive, no negative inner dialogue. Opportunities also came quicker and easier. It just felt right (and it still does today).

Those feelings may sound familiar and they can come up in all aspects of your life.  You may be able to identify past feelings when you thought a relationship or situation was wrong. Maybe you felt some uncertainty about someone you had just met or a job interview that on paper was perfect, yet for some reason it still felt wrong for you.

Why using Gut Instinct is Useful in Business:

Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what is best for you, is paramount for lasting success. – Oprah Winfrey

You can see from the quotes in this post that many famous business people use their gut instinct when making day to day business decisions. Small businesses need to relying on instinct and experience to make business decision much more than these famous entrepreneurs as they are unlikely to have the funds to research ideas before moving forward on them.

I have already explained how I felt much more positive when launching Milly Inspired, compared to previous business ideas. This feeling I now use on a daily basis when making decisions large and small. For example, I start planning our next collection by brainstorming all the ideas I have. I then highlight the ideas I feel are the best (using only gut instinct to select them). From there I use my learnt experience to eliminate any ideas that for whatever reason are less likely to be successful. Finally I use my intuition again when deciding what ideas to progress first.

The Science behind Gut Instinct:

I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of Statistics. – Richard Branson

TED Talk Video: Food for thought: How Your Belly Controls your Brain, by Ruairi Robertson

This is a big topic and one I’m not qualified to answer. Instead, I’m going to give you a quick overview of the science behind gut instinct and if you want to learn more please listen to the TED Talk video above.

Intuition is nothing new. The feeling of approaching danger would have been present in prehistoric man. This means it has been past down with our genetic history and is reinforced in us by our parents and our environment. In the last few years, Scientists have found there are more neurones in our stomachs than our brain. These cells react to uncertainty and warn our brains of danger or even bad decisions. Making ‘Gut Instinct’ an actual physical reaction.

These reactions can appear to people in many different ways. Here are just a few:

Thoughts: This thought could be as simple as feeling a new idea should not be progressed. However, normally these feelings are much harder to decipher. You maybe thinking about a dismissive reaction a business friend had to your new idea. When thinking of their reaction, out of nowhere you may get the thought ‘your friend was stressed or unwell‘. That thought is a little out of context (it is nothing about business) but that would be your intuition picking up on the situation and explaining their reaction. Or the thought maybe less detailed like ‘there are other things going on in their life’. Gut instincts are thoughts that come into your mind naturally and although you have no reasoning behind that thought, they still feel true to you.

Feelings: This is a feeling that can appear in one area of your body or all over. I know some people can get sudden pain or sickness feelings when they know an idea or situation is not right for them. Personally, I literary feel it in my stomach (a proper gut instinct moment). For me, a bad idea also feels foggy, like I have no energy and even slightly saddening or nauseating. Over time I have literally learnt what the feeling of a negative idea is to me. In contrast, a positive idea gives me energy, makes me smile and I feel light and ready to work.

Steps to Following your Gut Instinct:

You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

By now you may have noticed there would have been times in your life that you would have been using your intuition but you may not have been aware of it. Below are a few tasks that help directly engage your intuition when making daily business decisions. The more you carry out these tasks, the more you will be familiar with your intuitive feelings, until one day it becomes second nature:

Ask a Question:

The easiest way to directly engage your intuition is to ask a question and receive the answer. To do this simply take a moment to shut your eyes (optional) and ask the question in your head. Take a deep breath and then your next thought will be the reply. You can also write down a question and then automatically start writing the answer.

Modern Meditation:

Calming the mind through meditation will help access intuitive thoughts. However, I know not everyone can follow this traditional practice. Instead, going for a walk alone or even taking a relaxing bath can also be a form of meditation. To get guidance while doing traditional or modern meditation, simply start the activity with the intention of getting the answer to your question before that activity ends. As you progress through the activity be aware of your thoughts and feelings and see where they lead you.

Ask for a Sign:

A fun way to search for guidance is to ask for a sign. For example, I always see white feathers when I’m on the right track. Simply pick what your sign will be and affirm to yourself, if this idea is a good idea then I will see that sign at some point today.

The Rules:

Here is some extra guidance to help you on your way:

  1. Don’t push for an answer: If you actively look for your sign, chances are you won’t see it. If you ask yourself a question and then think up the answer, that is you, not your intuition. You need to keep your mind clear and then the answer will come.
  2. The answer may not make sense: Sadly we don’t always get simple yes or no answers. Instead, another better idea may come into your mind. Maybe you think of a person you need to contact for the answer. No matter how the answer is delivered, you will feel uplifted when you receive it.
  3. No answer is also an answer: Yes this is true. If you ask a question and don’t feel you get a reply then that is the answer. You can wait a while and try asking again in a different way but if you still don’t get a reply then that is your answer. At that point try asking if you are on the wrong path or what the right path is.
  4. Remember the answer maybe a feeling and not a thought: When asking questions be aware how you feel immediately after. A positive or negative, happy or sad reactions can also be your answer.

To Finish:

To finish off I wanted to show you this video by Jess Lively. US Business Owner turned Life Coach, Jess will explain what intuition is and how to access it in her own words. She also explains how she converses with her intuition:

Do you use your gut instinct and intuition when making life and business decisions? We would love to hear your intuition stories in the comments field below.

Gift Design Guide infogram

The ‘Small Business Gift Design Guide’, by Creative Business Gems

Early this year, we went through our Milly Inspired sales data to identify the most popular occasions, themes, and relationship types, in terms of gift purchases. We then looked at other small gift design studios and carried out the same study on their more popular products. The infogram above shows the results.

To help you understand the guide, I’ve defined the key terms:

Occasion Gifts: This is a product that has clearly been designed for a specific occasion, like a Christmas hamper. Alternatively, it could be a more general gift with occasion-specific personalisation or graphics added to it. A photo album with ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ on the cover would be an example of this.

Themed Gifts: These are similar to occasional gifts. However, the themes are less seasonal, and not attached to one specific gift-giving event. Examples might be a personalised print with a friendship theme. It could also be a keepsake box with ‘Memories’ engraved on the lid.

Relationship Gifts: This category includes gifts that physically state the recipient’s relationship to the customer. For example, a keyring that says ‘Happy Birthday Dad’, or a bracelet with ‘Daughter’ added to it.

The results of our study also revealed a number of additional insights I will share with you over the coming months. But for now, here are a few little sneak peeks:
Popular pendants:
1. Letters
2. Birthstones
3. Snowflakes
(Crystals came out at the bottom of the list.)

Common words used in gift design:
1. Story
2. Family
3. Thank You
(The word ‘Gardening’ emerged as the least commercial phrase.)

What do you think of our findings? Would you like more information like this? What kind of information would you find useful? Let us know in the comment field below.

Creative Business Gems Launch Giveaway

Spread the love and win £100 of Hobbycraft gift vouchers to spend on your creative business.

So we are hitting the ground running by starting our first competition right away. It is a simple ‘like and share’ giveaway. All you have to do is:

1. Head over to either our Facebook or Twitter page.
2. Find the competition graphic above posted on that social media page.
3. Then Like our page and Share the graphic.

It’s as easy as that!

Here are the links again: Facebook and Twitter.

The launch giveaway will run all month, ending on the 31sh May at midnight. I will announce the winner here on the 1st June 2017… exciting!

To make sure you hear about future competitions, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below.

Note: This competition is not sponsored by Hobbycraft.

Creative Business Gems Love list

Look Who Made The Love List….

Over the years that I have been running Milly Inspired I have met some truly amazing entrepreneurs, read books that have changed my whole outlook on running a business, and attended events, workshops and meet-ups that have helped me to reach the next level. What and who these amazing sources of inspiration are is just the type of information I want to pass onto you guys so my aim is to keep a list of my top resources, my CBG ‘Love List’.

This list will change and evolve as I find new resources so do keep coming back to view the most up-to-date list.

The List:

Books & eBooks

1.Shape up your Business by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker

One of two books written by the founders of Personally, this is the one I found more useful, mainly due to it’s insights and tried-and-tested small business lessons. The book is full of case studies from Partners, so it is the perfect read for anyone aspiring to sell on their site.

One of two books written by the founders of Personally, this is the one I found more useful, mainly due to it’s insights and tried-and-tested small business lessons. The book is full of case studies from Partners, so it is the perfect read for anyone aspiring to sell on their site.

2.How to Style Your Brand: Everything you Need to Know to Create a Distinctive Brand Identity by Fiona Humberstone

This beautifully stylish book takes you through the branding process, from the conception of your business through to communicating to your audience as an established company.

This beautifully stylish book takes you through the branding process, from the conception of your business through to communicating to your audience as an established company.

3. Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

A self-help book for creatives. This is perfect for anyone wanting to live a creative lifestyle who is fearful of taking that initial big leap. Gilbert draws on her own life experiences as a creative, and other well-known creatives, to inspire you to take that first step. Personally, I find hearing other people’s stories gives me confidence that I am on the right path, so I often have the Audible version of this book playing in our studio.


1. Handmadeology

A hub for all things Etsy. Started by Timothy Adams, this blog is packed full of useful Etsy advice. Plus. you can connect with other sellers via their social media pages.
2. UK Handmade

An advocate and supporter of all things UK craft. I have used their forum numerous times, and their ongoing support for creatives always motivates me.
3. Female Entrepreneur Association

Started by Carrie Green, this lady has created an online meeting place for business women from all over the world. I joined their Members Club a few years ago and love being able to communicate to other female business owners. Plus, the themed monthly information packs they send out to their members are very useful.

You don’t have to join their membership site to find useful content. Have a listen to Carrie’s weekly podcasts over on their blog, or have a read of their ‘She Means Business‘ magazine.

Training – online and offline:

1. Paperfest

Originally a yearly event bringing together people from the world of Paper Goods, Paperfest is now part of the London Tradeshow, Top Drawer. Top Drawer runs in January and September each year, and both events are FREE to visit if you run a small business. Paperfest hosts talks throughout the three-day event; these have included speakers from major retailers like Waterstones and Selfridges.
2. Nicole’s Classes

Personally I have completed their Photoshop, Illustrator, Photography 101 and Table Top Photography courses (wow, I didn’t realise I’d done so many). The courses are affordable, practical and some of the most useful I’ve taken. You simply purchase the course you want from their website and select the date you want to start the 4-week course. Once purchased, download their software. When the course starts you sign in and that week’s notes and videos are ready to go. You can also upload any work you have done, so your teacher and coursemates can add notes.

Nicole has kindly set up an offer for Creative Business Gems readers. This will allow you 15% off all her courses with the discount code ‘CBG15’. All you have to do is add the promo code at checkout.

3. Start Small, Dream Big

From the owners of the blog, A Beautiful Mess, these sisters have written several ecourses. I have friends who have purchased different ones and all have enjoyed them. For small business start-ups I’d pick the ‘Start Small, Dream Big’ course. Again, it is affordable and easy to access. The courses are self-study so you can work at your own pace.


1. Holly Booth

Owner of Holly Booth Photography. Holly has been our product photographer for many years. She is now one of the photographers recommends that their Partners use. Holly creates quality, on-trend photos. Based in Derby you can visit her for a day or a half day shoot. Alternatively, you can now post her your products, and she will photograph them for you and post everything back. Plus, she is one of the most cost-effective photographers I have found.
2. Jenny Hyde

Owner of Copper Boom Studios, Jenny and I used to work together at Now she offers mentoring, courses and workshops for Partners. Plus, Copper Boom Studios is available for e-commerce product descriptions and photography.
3. Claire Yuille

Owner of Indie Retail UK, a website and ecourses to help launch your wholesale collection.

So that is our first ‘Love List’. Do you have any suggestions you think we should include in the future? Maybe you run an e-course or host a networking event that would be perfect for our list; if so, then please get in touch.

Gender Reveal Trend

Gender Reveal Moodboard – view Pinterest Board for photo sources.

Gender reveal parties are a new trend, straight from the US. Just like baby showers, this is a rapidly growing trend within the UK, with couples looking for fun ways to reveal the sex of their baby to their family and friends. For more inspiration, take a look at our gender reveal Pinterest Board.

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Welcome, I’m Gemma

If you are a Craftsperson, an Artisan, Design-Maker or Micro Manufacturer, looking for product design inspiration then is a blog written for you.

I have run my own Designer-Maker Business, Milly Inspired, for over 7 years now. Today our six-figure company is still growing at 50%. Learn how to get the same results right here!

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