Today we’re saying hello to another new interviewee – Nicky Lloyd Greame from personal and business coaching and mentoring organisation People & Potential. She came to me via another interviewee, dance fitness entrepreneur Mel Carpenter – it’s always nice when one of my interviewees shares with others that they’ve found this a useful process both for their personal development and for their web presence! Nicky came from a position where she’d run her own businesses before and, back in the corporate environment, wanted that freedom that self-employment brings. She took positive action for herself, and now concentrates on helping other people to take positive action for themselves, too, which must be a lovely satisfying job to have! Let’s meet Nicky and see how she got where she is today and where she plans to go from here …
Welcome, Nicky! What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called People & Potential and I started it at the beginning of this year, 2014.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I have run my own businesses previously, (salsa teaching and events companies – for eight years) but went back to a ‘normal’ job at the end of 2010 as was feeling like I needed more of a challenge, and also experienced an element of social pressure to conform to the norm and get a regular job. Juggling being a full-time single parent with a full-time job proved to be very difficult and stressful, so I started looking at other options.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
After three years back in the corporate world, I began to feel unhappy, and sadly went through a series of experiences which led to severe stress, anxiety and depression. After collapsing in hospital, I decided I had to take positive action – for me and my daughter – so began an intense journey of self-development. I quickly realised that the key similarities in all of the jobs/roles I’d enjoyed was helping and coaching people. This became my key focus and I’ve never looked back!
Had you run your own business before?
Yes – I ran two businesses in the past. My first business, an events management business in London, only lasted about a year, but my second business, ‘The Salsaholics’ lasted for 10 years (in fact, I still have a number of loyal customers who I still train privately. I also now coach dance professionals in all aspects starting up a business – from what language to use when teaching to the practical aspects of running a successful business).
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I must admit, I took a bit of a risk – I quit my job (following a motivational conference I attended – during which I realised I HAD to commit to my dream) and put all my energy into getting it off the ground. I also got a lot of help from the Enterprise Allowance Scheme run by the government. They provided me with free courses, a business advisor and a business start-up loan – along with a weekly allowance for 13 weeks to help me launch my business properly.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
That it really is not as scary as you think it will be… quite the opposite – its exhilarating. The fear we build up in our heads, whilst it can feel very real, is really unjustified. You have to realise and accept that things will not go to plan, and it may feel like it’s going wrong – but that is your opportunity to pick yourself up and find another way. And every time single time this has happened, I’ve always had a better result.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Don’t let your fears drive you – it’s truly astounding what you can achieve if you just take that first step. And don’t give in to negative thoughts … if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I would have found a coach/mentor sooner … I now have three (for different aspects of my life) and it has transformed the way I do things/look at things – and they keep me on track, because despite anyone’s best efforts there will always be those days when panic, frustration, doubt or even fear sets in.
What are you glad you did?
Quit my job and followed my dream. I’ve never looked back – and my daughter tells me every day how much she prefers her mummy now she’s so much happier all the time. My work/life balance now is perfect, as I am in control of it.
What’s your top business tip?
Two things really: Firstly, manage your time flexibly but effectively. I diarise everything, including exercise, research, meditation and checking Facebook/social media (try to only do it twice a day otherwise before you know it you have wasted a few hours). At the beginning of the week, I set myself general goals for the week – with a time allocation against each… and I review these each morning. I find this works much better than setting daily goals and then getting frustrated when you can’t meet them.
Secondly – invest in yourself, both in terms of time and money. Don’t underestimate the impact this can have on your work and home life. I am always learning and growing now – and I also give priority to meditating (just 15 mins a day), exercise and relaxing. It IS NOT a waste of time – and if you are crazy busy it is actually even more important that you do it. I get so much more done, and often better quality work done, when I have invested in myself.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
My first thoughts are that I it has stayed the same – but actually it’s grown quite naturally and I am finding the opportunities and clients I really want to attract are coming my way. My vision has always been to provide single parents with opportunities and help that is often not available to them, either due to money or time or even awareness – and this has been the bulk of my clients, despite me not specifically targeting them in my marketing. I am also a huge fan of joint ventures, and am finding that I’m meeting people weekly who have great synergies with the work I am doing and want to expand into … so I have a number of exciting joint venture projects in the pipeline.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I will have two or three books published (I am writing a series of self-help books for single parents – “Lessons from a Single Mum”) and I will be hosting regular workshops and events, in addition to growing my one-to-one client base. I also plan on being a guest speaker at key events empowering parents – particularly single parents. My vision includes transforming the negative association people often have of single parents – eradicating stigma and celebrating their successes and achievements.
Nicky certainly has big plans for the future, but having turned her own life around, I’m sure she has fantastic theoretical and practical resources behind her to be able to build this area of business. I love the line “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself” – how often should self-doubting or self-undermining businesspeople remind themselves of that?! Mentoring is so important, too, and I’m glad Nicky mentions that she has a mentor. I’m putting together a workbook to help readers of my books mentor themselves, as I get questions about providing mentoring services myself fairly frequently, and it’s great to see people realising that we can all work together and support one another in our business endeavours. Find out how Nicky was doing a year later here.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.