Your Name and Age: Lucy Cameron, 49
Tell us about your family: Husband Clive, 3 children – Thomas 16, Amy 14 and Jamie 10.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
My background is in training, learning and development in large corporations including Crossrail and the Arcadia Group. I was responsible for all head office soft skills, performance management, IT, professional and technical training, coaching, mentoring and induction programmes. I finished my degree in Social Sciences in 1990 and completed my MBA through the Open University in 1999. You can see I’m committed to professional development with diplomas and certifications in 8 areas including Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Employee Engagement and Personal Performance Coaching.
In 2012 I started an ActionCOACH business coaching franchise to take control of my work-life balance, grow a business to support my family’s financial future and help business owners in my community to take control of their lives too. When I found out about business coaching, it really wasn’t a great leap from what I had been doing for the last nearly 20 years of my career. I’d started at Arcadia Group in Distribution, working my way up through Merchandising and Buyer roles until I became a Buyer for a department with a £14million turnover. My focus on developing the global supplier base, improving quality and driving margins can easily be related back to activities I might look at with my Business Owner clients.
I always enjoyed seeing the improvements and increased confidence in my colleagues after my training sessions but that’s nothing compared to the life changes I see when coaching my Business Owner clients. The progress we make with their companies impacts so many people, bringing job security to their staff and creating more jobs and helping to drive the local economy. How can you not be passionate about that?
When did you launch? March 2012
How did you get started?
Our USP is “Because being in business should give you more life” – I can usually help a business owner to feel more in control of their business in our first meeting which bodes well for what we can achieve together in regular one-to-one coaching sessions.
ActionCOACH has business growth strategies including group and one-to-one coaching sessions. I created a series of bitesize workshops so even small businesses could afford my help, giving them a stepping stone to my other services. When they see the value, and as they grow, they are willing to invest more to see more growth and success.
Following that, my success is, in part, down to my sales conversion rate which lifted to 100% in 2017 by:
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
Most importantly, it’s my work–life balance; finding time for school events is simple, whereas it used to be impossible! School holidays are less restricted, my coaching schedule makes it easy to have weekends away. We have now bought a wooden lodge in Norfolk where we go to switch off completely.
It is possible to run a successful business, be a great mum and get a work-life balance. I have been told I inspire women to push themselves to be more than they thought they could be and that makes me really happy.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business?
Initially, I struggled with the sales and marketing as it was a new area for me, very different from being sold to as a buyer! Lots of learning later, adding in test and measure activities, I now really enjoy it.
What has worked well about your business?
Having found a good work-life balance, I’m focused on helping other business owners find that balance too. I’ve won three Best Client Results awards since 2013. One of those companies went on to win a highly-contested industry award and they gave their certificate to me in recognition of the part I played in their success. You can see why I’m so pleased to enjoy a business with so many rewards, not just the flexibility or financial!
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
I used to worry constantly about the minutiae, always concerned with what other people would say or think and berate myself for not doing enough. We are only human and there are only so many hours in the day; I now focus on celebrating wins and only thinking about situations I can control or influence – everything else I let go!
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business?
The better question is: how did I manage to fit my family in to my life before having my own business?
In 2002, I decided to move out of London to a more rural setting where my husband and I would be closer to our families and we’d be ready to start our own family. But the pay-off was a minimum 3-hour commute to and from work each day. Between 2003 and 2008, I had three children – two boys and a girl. Childcare got increasingly difficult – our only solution was to get a live-in au pair. My commute continued to be the bain of my life with train delays, strikes and engineering works making me miss bedtimes with my kids.
In 2010 my kids were 2, 5 and 7. I felt our relationship getting increasingly distant:
My husband also commuted so the children were losing out on time with both of us!
Something had to change. I’d never considered running my own business before, but the more I looked in to franchising, the more boxes it ticked. Business coaching pulled together everything I had learnt – business acumen, the theory studied in my MBA, coaching skills, people skills, training, mentoring and coaching. So, when I launched my ActionCOACH business, it immediately saved me 720 hours a year on commuting time alone.
Clive is extremely supportive of the business and regularly attends business events with me – especially when there’s a social event to enjoy in the evening!
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
I’ve recently been granted Senior Partner status and this means I can proceed with growing a team including employee business coaches to reach many more business owners than I could on my own. I expect to reach a £1million turnover in the next 10 years.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
I don’t need to give up this business to follow other avenues of interest. Building my team will give me the freedom to pick up other projects should I wish to in the future.
Do you have an exit strategy?
Every business owner should start a business with the end in mind. When I decide to sell my business, I’ll have other Action Coaches who wish to take on my clients or perhaps one of my employee coaches may wish to step up to manage the business.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come?
This year has already been a massive step change for me; I have brought in another coach, recruited a Business Development Manager and have a 1,000 sq ft office space. In February, I also bought the BNI Kent franchise with a client.
I’m not sure I will ever stop pushing to grow the companies and feel like I’ve made it. I’m definitely proud of the team and love the results we are getting for our clients.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
In 5 years’ time, we will have a second coaching office in Kent, 3 more coaches in the team and a Trainer. BNI Kent will have grown to over 1,000 members.
This means that the 2 companies will be generating over £1 billion for the economy in Kent and Sussex. For every £1 spent that circulates 5 times in the economy, by us supporting companies to turnover £200,000,000 we will hit that magic £1 billion – really excited to see that happen and the difference it will make.
Your website link: www.actioncoach.co.uk/iq4business
For any business owners wanting a complementary business review to get a fresh perspective on their business, please get in touch. My business operates in the South of England so readers outside of this area would need to go via the national website actioncoach.co.uk