Creating a business and making decisions that are in line with your core beliefs and values is more likely to be a lasting and positive choice.
It allows you to be who you really are, and do what you really need, in order to achieve what you want. And it will draw like-minded and loyal clients to you.
Benefits of your values-driven business
Creating a values-driven business:
- Allows you to be yourself
- Differentiates you from others
- Plays a key part in creating a professional brand
- Guides your decisions and interactions with others
- Communicates with, and attracts, loyal customers
- Fast-tracks meaningful relationships
- Can inspire loyalty beyond reason.
So where then to begin? Inside out. First determine your own personal values and build your business or self-employment opportunity from this core.
This is the approach Leigh Johnson, then aged 46, took when she established her recruitment business.
Following her childhood dream
Having my own business was a childhood aspiration. I love being my own boss – the freedom, flexibility, taking responsibility, and creating something of value that helps others. Deciding what to do was easy. I was working as a recruitment consultant for a large international firm and found recruitment suited my skills and talents.
I decided to go out on my own, and was able to turn that into a successful business and get others to share my goals and values. I was up and running with very little start-up capital, just some cash from my own resources.
Creating her niche
I established the company values and defined the behaviours that went with those values from the outset. Finding the right market and level of service centred on:
- Providing a professional and personal service
- Employing the right people
- Doing business with the right clients
- Innovating to meet their needs.
I developed a brand strategy, created a simple business plan, leased premises and a CRM system, and bought 2nd hand furniture! I hired my first employee, kept focused on our specialisation, then got out there and told people about it.
It’s important for me to be trying new things. I was driven to be successful and this, along with continually learning and sharing, kept my energy levels high. Doing the ‘same old’ and/or repetitive work de-energises me. Going into business or being self-employed creates a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and also learn about yourself.
Taking a leap of faith
I knew my enterprise could be successful. Initially I worked 60 hours per week. I used specialists for advice and outsourced the things I wasn’t good at. Spending time doing the stuff that creates revenue, and starting to build systems from day one helped maximise the likelihood of success.
The advice I would give to someone who has never started a business is to surround yourself with people who have done it before, or are self-employed. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Get a mentor or coach!
Millions of people around the world create small enterprises so that they can feed their families. Start small, part-time and try out some of your ideas.
Business development (face-to-face meetings), networking, marketing and building brand awareness helped me grow my client base. Being socially responsible and creating our Skilled Migrant Programme, in partnership with Victoria University and the Rotary Club of Wellington, has also given the brand a very positive image.
Getting professional advice, (business advisor), using specialists (i.e. finance) focusing on business development and building market awareness have been the secret to success, managing cash flow, and generating regular income.
Best and worst moves
Hiring migrants who brought great skills, excellent motivation and surprised me with their ability to keep growing has been one of the best moves I’ve made.
Knowing what I now know, I would always ensure I hired the best people. They don’t have to be the highest paid.
Worst move? Taking too much responsibility on myself when things weren’t going well which led to burnout.
While I had a lot of technical skills, I’ve had to learn to let go, and trust others. Mistakes happen and we learn from them together.
To maintain balance and find time for my family I avoid being a perfectionist. I look for the 80/20. Sometimes good enough is just fine. And done is better than perfect.
To succeed in business you must be prepared to take responsibility and make decisions, some of which won’t be right but that’s okay. Just keep making them. I also take time out every quarter. You must trust your people and disconnect so that they can make decisions while you are away.
Action and Innovation
Lately, I’ve been using the word ‘enterprise’ instead of business or self-employment. Personally it has connotations involving action and innovation. Also it can be about being socially responsible while being economically sustainable.
Establishing her company values and ensuring her behaviours reflected those values from the outset helped Leigh create a strong brand—one she is proud of.
Her deep belief in equality and being socially responsible, and her passion for helping others is also reflected in her successful Skilled Migrant Programme, giving her brand a very positive image.
It was an inspired move. My own experience working as a recruitment consultant confirmed that many employers discriminate against people from other cultures. I was once moved so much by their plight I wrote a magazine article entitled, What Colour Are Your Skills, to focus attention on the fact that it is what people can do, not their place of origin that defines a person’s ability to do a job well.
Leigh now works less in the business and more on the business to maintain better balance. She is passionate about helping women who suffer as she has, from depression and anxiety, and shares her story of recovery on her personal blog: www.leighjohnsonnz.com/blogging.
At the time of writing, Leigh has also made a decision to retrain as a Well-being and Transition Coach, and I am honoured to have been her business coach and mentor through this journey. She’s also excited about a new online project that is in the planning phase.
“I’m calling it: ‘Fabulous at 50—The Professional Woman’s Guide to Being Anxiety Free.’ This web-based programme will provide tools to help women avoid the negative experiences of burnout and anxiety, that can get in the way of enjoying what should be an exciting time of life.”
Find out more about Leigh Johnson, and the wonderful work she does here: www.leighjohnsonnz.com and on her blog.
Action Task! Start Smart
Identify and record any lessons you can learn from Leigh’s experience that you could apply to starting, or redefining, your own business. Summarise some possible action steps.
Be inspired by other entrepreneurs, and gain practical strategies to help you plan your beautiful business, purchase your copy of Mid-life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself TODAY!
Mid-life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself is available in paper back and e-Book version from Amazon.