10 Lessons from 20 Years of Business

1. Raise Your Profile

When I first opened my business, I needed to gain exposure in the business world, 20 years ago the best vehicle was the Manchester Evening News so I contacted the business desk and persuaded them to write about me.

2. Be Persistent & Tenacious

I rang the Manchester Evening News approximately 10 times, I felt that I had an interesting story to tell. I was one of the first female black training consultants in Manchester and I pushed my unique selling points. Finally, the newspaper sent a reporter to my office, resulting in a photo and a write up about my new business in the paper.

3. When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door & Grasp It

In 2002 I was successful in pitching to train the volunteers for the commonwealth games in Manchester. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. I was even filmed by the BBC and appeared on local TV.

4. Don’t Be Risk Averse

10 years ago, I was asked to send a proposal for a management training programme for 40 managers based in the Middle East. I wanted this piece of work, I love travelling and wanted to work globally. After a chat with the client on the phone I decided it would be worth meeting the client. I purchased a ticket to Egypt and arranged a face to face meeting. I won the contract and off the back of it ended up working in 20 countries.

5. Be Resilient

In the past 20 years I have navigated my business through a major recession. The most challenging part was having to make staff redundant and searching for new markets for my business. I had to remain curious, optimistic and motivated, keeping my energy levels up and believing in myself. It was difficult, but I am stronger for it.

6. Identify & Exploit Your Key Differentiator

We are all individuals and have something that makes us stand out from others. Mine is that I have a real passion for Learning and Development, when I stand in front of a group of people I give them my full focus using my skills, knowledge and personality to deliver a memorable, well researched and interactive session. This week one of my delegates said, ‘Being around you reminds me of summer’. Wow! That is powerful feedback.

7. Be Credible

I made the decision to change my career from recruitment to Learning and Development/HR in 1998, since then I have gained my Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and my Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management, and now I am just completing my ILM Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and mentoring. I make my sessions interactive and fun but I have the knowledge and expertise required to back that up.

8. Volunteer Your Services

This benefits you and others. When I opened my business in 1998 I felt very lonely so I joined my local branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This was the beginning of 20 years of volunteering culminating in me becoming the Branch Chair in Manchester. I am also an export Champion for the Department of Trade and investment and a mentor on the Entrepreneurial Spark for the NatWest.

9. Have a Social Media Presence

This is the only way to keep your brand current and relevant. From delivering webinars to posting regularly on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, this has helped in keeping my clients abreast of any developments and encourages new clients to contact me.

10. Cherish Your Clients

Treat them with tender loving care, my clients know that I will work tirelessly to meet their requirements as their success is my success. Over the past 20 years their support and concern for me has allowed me to sustain my business.

If you love your work, you do not work a day in your life! I love what I do – every day is an adventure and a pleasure. I still pinch myself because I can’t believe how much joy I get from what I do. Here’s to the next 20 years!

Olive Strachan Resources