The key to success is the people you surround yourself with

Appearing on the Business Growth Secrets Podcast

It was a pleasure to appear on Adam Stott’s 268th episode of his 5-star rated podcast: Business Growth Secrets. From building his own multi-million-pound business from scratch to interviewing the likes of Floyd Mayweather and John Travolta, Adam has built up a reputation for being one of the UK’s top speakers on business, entrepreneurship, and coaching.

In this episode, I discussed my business journey, how I balance career, health and family, time-management secrets and my number 1 rule of finance for businesses of any size, in any industry.

Click here to listen to the podcast in full

What led me to the C-Suite

If you have been either following me or Shape Beyond for a while then you will be well aware of my career journey to date. However, what isn’t so well-documented is my science background and how this relates to my experience in business.

Growing up, I was always interested in numbers, process and order. Whether it was maths, physics or chemistry, I was drawn to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects much more than the arts. It has always been a long running family joke that I enrolled in extra maths lessons to get out of sport and I would probably do the same again now if I could, as would some of my daughters!

I was lucky. In the local comprehensive in a small town in the Lake District, no one ever questioned my choices or study preferences. In fact, I would say we had more girls than boys studying these subjects. And in choosing a subject to study at University, when I was advised to do a course that I would enjoy, I chose Chemistry. 

It was only much further on in my career that I realised how few women go down the STEM route which I personally think is a massive untapped talent base. Schools are working hard to encourage more girls to study STEM subjects however progress is slow. Only 35% of STEM degrees are awarded to women and even fewer STEM roles in the workplace at 24%.  Why is this? I just don’t get it. Perhaps because it pushes against stereotypes? Perhaps it is a lack of self confidence? Perhaps it is thinking too laterally about the subject versus the wider skills this area of study can bring. 

Well, whatever it is, I credit a lot of the success in my career to my science background and also the amazing teachers I had way back then who wholeheartedly encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do and be whoever I wanted to be. STEM subjects teach process, problem solving skills, precision and order. But also hone the skill of asking why? Being curious. Always looking for ways to improve and push new boundaries. All essential skills in today’s never-normal business world.

My mistakes and my advice

During our conversation, Adam credits me for having such a successful career whilst also being a mother to 5 children and asks if I could offer any advice to people that may be looking to progress their career whilst starting a family.

But the truth is that I’ve made a lot of mistakes during my career and my advice to anyone is to understand that there have to be trade-offs. If I could go back in time, I would have liked to have prioritised my family and myself ahead of work more than I did. After almost 30 years I am finally achieving more balance in my life. And however much I would love to say that as women, or a working parent we can have it all, in my experience that can never be the case. The key is compromise and working out what works for you. What are you willing to trade and what are you not willing to give up? There are many organisations out there that support these trade-offs much more than when I had younger children, so it is important to find one that recognises that you will be so much better at work if you have a happy family life and you are mentally and physically healthy yourself.

My business growth secret

Whilst the majority of the conversation was about me and my journey, Adam did ask me at the very end what my business growth secret would be to any business leaders who are looking to grow their organisations.

From a finance perspective, the answer is beautifully simple: cash. As the saying goes, cash is king. You run out of cash and your business is done. To me, it’s a lot like managing your own bank account and finances. Budgeting does not need to be overly complicated – although as accountants we try to make it more complex than it needs to be! There are plenty of resources out there to support you if you find this tricky.

And when you have cash, then business success comes from your next biggest asset – the team around you. Having people who truly care about your business and will go the extra mile are difficult to find, so when you do, hold onto them with your life. I see so many businesses that just assume their people will stick around regardless of how they are treated and of course they don’t. 

Having people who truly care about your business and will go the extra mile are difficult to find, so when you do, hold onto them with your life.

Generational shifts and the pandemic have both challenged people to question what they want from work and their lives in general. Flexibility, purpose, personal development and accountability are all critical ingredients to be able to hire and retain the best talent. No more is it enough to pay a fair wage. Unless you support, train, develop and trust your team they will quickly disappear taking all of that knowledge and goodwill with them.

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