When I reflect on some of my career highlights its clear to me that sharing the secrets of my success is the path I was leading to all along. Its taken me a few years to get here (I’m 37), i’m not afraid to admit that a lot of it has been through trial and error. I appreciate every bump in the road. I now want to support as many people as I can to find their purpose and build sustainable livelihoods, as well cultivating the person freedoms that come from running your own business or working for an organisation in line with your values.
- Are you a professional wondering what or where is your next move?
- Are you sitting on a start-up idea but have zero idea where to start?
- Or are you an entrepreneur or business owner, you’re making an impact but you can’t work out how to make more money and grow?
In my career to date i’ve raised over £2m in revenue for the various people i’ve worked for. I’ve been helping small to medium businesses grow since I was 22, way back when I got my first job in advertising sales for my local magazine publishing house in Dorset. It was my first job after graduating from a digital media production degree – the first of it’s kind in the UK back in 1999 when digital was so fresh we called it New Media.
Fast forward a few years to 2002. I recall many of my first clients… from leading high street videogames and DVD stores such as Blockbuster through to the little guys – I had a student who spent his student loan with me on a classified advert series to promote his games console tips and cheats business. I could envision him and his uni buddies sat in his living room with several telephones whilst getting high and playing Zelda. My colleagues couldn’t believe I took his whole STUDENT LOAN, but in the end I helped him triple it.
I love the fearlessness of young people. I had another young client, a 16 year old who was doing his GCSEs and had started selling games consoles online (Nintendo Gamecubes I think it was – as they had just come out). I helped him grow his business over the course of the following year so much that he was able to fund his own way to university. His Dad loved me. I know this because his Dad took me out to dinner one time to say thank you.
I used to receive gifts in the post as well. It’s strange looking back. I was passionate about what I did because I knew I was helping these businesses grow, and it wasn’t just giving them access to my magazine audience that did it, I helped them re-design their advert artwork when it wasn’t particularly good, i’d package things up so they’d benefit from significant discounts and i’d give them creative marketing ideas outside of the print advertising that I could offer. I have to thank my Sales Director for giving me the confidence to do all these things after I was locked in a room for two weeks and taken through his intense sales training. I became the ultimate consultative seller. Over two years I grew from the graduate that they took a punt on for £11k a year to one of the top 2 sales people on a sales floor of 30, earning £30k a year. Pretty good for a 24 year old living in Bournemouth in 2004…
In 2006/7 I worked for an exciting VC funded tech start up who were building an early social network not unlike what Spotify is today. By the end of the decade I hop scotched to become one of the top revenue earners in the highly sought after Creative Solutions team at News International, delicately balancing the act between editorial and commercial during a tough season for the newspaper group in 2009. I never stood still for very long – sandwiched somewhere between those key learning experiences I had helped build another publishing business up prior to sale, this time swapping Clapham for the Caribbean, meaning I got to enjoy the fruits of my labour through sipping sundowners every night whilst living in a cute one bed apartment right on the beach.
The new decade brought a new dawn and I wanted to use my skills for good. Since 2010 i’ve been working with smaller companies who are trying to make a positive impact with young people. I’m drawn to organisations that are creating opportunities for young people to improve their employability and skills. Over 3 years I turned a government funded youth magazine into a self-funding (through advertising) media platform for young people to have a voice of which one of many highlights included our role in celebrating the diverse youth voices during the 2012 London riots. The Riots, by a 12 Year Old (scroll down to 10.43am to see a snippet on The Guardian) was a blog post I named and championed which went viral, hailed in the Guardian but also various other media sources and retweeted by many celebs.
Once i’d proven myself, it was time to go freelance. I emailed everyone in my professional network what i’d been up to, and that kept me going or another 18 months, working on exciting projects and with awesome youthful startups.
In 2014 it was time to do something different and I went to Kenya to support micro-entrepreneurs. I noticed how many incredible socially impactful entrepreneurs there were and I wanted to help them. I felt like if I could support them, then it was pretty likely that other professionals could too – people just like me, who wanted to travel and see the world and share their skills and make a difference. Since then my own organisation _SocialStarters (which I started with Anna Moran) has helped over 130 entrepreneurs from India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Brazil make a difference in their communities whilst earning profit at the same time. These social entrepreneurs have benefitted from over 5,000 hours of pro bono consultancy time from high achieving professionals who took 6 weeks out of their lives to support them.
It’s now time for me to share what i’ve learned, directly with those who need my support. Running my own business for a few years has taught me the most invaluable lessons about entrepreneurship.
I’m looking to support three types of people to transform their lives and their business start-up endeavours:
- Socially impactful enterprises and start-ups
- Skilled professionals exploring impactful start-up ideas
- Professionals who feel stuck in their careers
In the last few months i’ve worked with some incredible women in London and the UK who match the above criteria.
Jasmine, an events producer who wants to generate her own income through her passions and personal experience of grief, did my new two-day startup workshop. She has now mapped out how to move forward with not just one, but the two business ideas that she’d been sitting on for a while:
“It was great to have my queries and worries tackled and solved in a way that was thought-provoking and realistic (some other text-book styles of guidance can feel as though you’ve had a one line resolution offered but no depth or personal tailoring and so feels pretty empty and alienating). I also appreciated the opportunity to discuss all aspects of my idea in varying levels of depth without feeling self-conscious. Andrea was there to help me in a way that a peer, family member or friend wouldn’t be able to. I could ask anything without feeling silly and the response would be productive, honest and often inspiring. I definitely feel as though I have a stronger sense of what I now need to do whereas before I had felt a bit disordered and unsure of some developmental aspects.” – Jasmine O’Brien, events producer , soon-to-be cofounder & recent coaching client 2017
Tana, a seasoned teacher, school mistress, youth coach, mental health advocate and now entrepreneur participated in my Business Coaching workshop last week. She can now see how she can will triple her income this year through her mental health social enterprise:
“What you did for me over those two days as my coach was genuinely phenomenal. Not once did you roll your eyes (outwardly at least!!!) at my ignorance over so many basic business things; not once did you mock me in any way or put me down for not knowing or understanding…and that was so refreshing. It meant I felt able to actually ask all the questions I had. You have also helped me to see the true value of my work; the potential for a true income AND to make a difference on the kind of scale that I want – and not just with a dozen 1-2-1 children. I can see a way forward and feel a real drive to follow through and get these courses up and running – and the website changed and active…” – Tana Macphearson Smith, Founder & CEO, Clear Minds & coaching client 2017
I’ve also been working one on one with Steph, a career changer who has just landed her dream job in a tech start up that ticked all the boxes. We worked together for six one on one coaching sessions (a mix of Skype and face to face) between October and December last year. She’s super happy and says that she couldn’t have done it without the coaching support. She said this mid-way through our six sessions:
“Before my first coaching session with Andrea, I was feeling confused, unhappy and unsure about the right career for me…I am now feeling a lot more focussed, positive and motivated. Every session is very thought provoking and fun and I feel inspired afterwards!” – Stephanie Allison, Office Manager, coaching client 2016
Interested to find out more?
I’ve got space to work with some new clients over the next few months now that i’ve been developing my two day coaching programmes and have seen the results. I know that they make an incredible impact and I am just so humbled and excited to take these out into the world.
I also have room for a few one to one weekly career coaching clients. Let me guide you through the muddy waters that can be a career change or new job hunt.
Feeling a bit stressed or got the January productivity blues? Check out my recent post on productivity and how important it is to start listening to your body, including my top 10 tips for increasing productivity.