I’ve never been a massive fan of New Year’s Eve and like most years I was in bed before midnight this year. Last year was moving forward after the year I lost my son. This year it’s moving further forward having made big changes in my life. 2017 was a bit of a whirlwind; it was the year I went back to work after losing Bobby and the year I set up my own business. Setting up Simplicité and my Life & Executive Coaching business has been both exhilarating and exhausting. I think I pretty much slept the entire Christmas break! When I reflect, I see a version of the old me with lots of energy, passion and a concept that was brought to life quickly. It was a heck of a lot of fun and a healthy amount of challenge.
Setting up my own wellbeing and beauty clinic was never really on my radar, but it has brought great positivity to our lives. I think I occasionally said to my sister and husband over the years how nice it would be to own your own business. There is something wonderful about being front of house. You meet a wide range of people and for the extrovert in me, it’s like music to the ears.
What became very clear to me early in 2017 was I needed to make substantial change in my life if I was going to healthily heal from our loss. I needed to take charge and take control where there had been none for quite some time. It was a very big decision to leave the company I loved, the company I felt I had grown up in and all my special people.
Initially I decided to take four months off and holiday a lot. Those who know me probably laughed at that loose plan. In the beginning, I put no pressure on myself to decide my new life plan. I knew it had to mean more time closer to home and Lily, and for me to oversee how I spend my time. Coaching would be a big part of it, that much I knew. For the first time in a long time, I trusted the answer would come. Off we toddled to Cannes for a couple of weeks, followed by Coldplay in Paris with my best friends and onto Barcelona to take a cruise with Uncle Barry. I took a walk with my good friend Janelle just before Coldplay and saw a ‘For Lease’ sign in the old forge in Straffan village. Hypothetical ‘what would I do if I took the lease’ brainstorming started. It really did feel like doodling and day dreaming. I thought wellbeing, beauty and my own coaching room in the heart of it. A sanctuary for feeling well, looking well and living well; now wouldn’t that be wonderful I thought. I pottered off home to my husband and shared my doodling with him.
For some reason, possibly because he has always backed me, he told me to ring up and organise to go see it. The rush of excitement I can still feel, that feeling of opportunity and possibility. Off I went to Paris in the meantime and shared my thoughts with my buddies; I think they thought I was finally losing the plot. I came back on the Monday and went to see the building on Thursday. Suddenly, I had a ten-day business plan deadline. There was no going back; I could feel it in my bones. At that point I knew I needed help; I needed a coach who had expertise in this area. A friend of mine recommended that I go see Liz McKeon; a successful Author, Business Coach, Mentor and Trainer whose passion is to help her clients in the Hair, Beauty and Spa industry grow their business and harness the full potential of their opportunities. I had all the answers; I needed to create clarity around my vision and concept. We spent a day together and I wrote my business plan. The landlord took a shine to our business plan and suddenly deposits were being made. Simplicité was happening and there was no going back! These were the pearls of wisdom I learned as a young entrepreneur.
Surround yourself with talented people and don’t be afraid to ask for help
I’ve always known as a Leader the importance of surrounding yourself with talented people and I immediately knew I needed help when there was no going back. I asked my friend and brilliant interior designer to be part of the project. My husband Des was part of the dream team; he did not really have a choice in fairness, but I know he enjoyed it. We spent hours perched around the kitchen table drawing out the design, changing our minds or having our minds changed for us by the CAD system. Takeaways were plentiful, and the TV was turned on more than usual for Lily. When we got stuck on the design we called in the help of the wonderful Spa Consultant, Peigin Crowley. She challenged our thinking and prevented us from making mistakes we may have made otherwise, and she has a fire in her belly which is contagious. I connected with other business owners in the wellbeing, beauty and spa industry and I built a network of mentors who I turn to when I need.
Hire the best people you can find, whatever it takes
I did not know where to start when it came to hiring people; the heartbeat of any business. A recruitment company called Beautiful Jobs was recommended to me and I knew when I spoke to Maria Morgan (the owner) she would find me the best people. It wasn’t easy but we followed our gut and we got there in the end. I am blessed to have a fantastic people who run the business like it was theirs when I am not there.
Trust your gut, it generally keeps you on the right path
I started to see a pattern when there were nights I did not sleep well. These typically were during periods when something didn’t feel right in my stomach and I didn’t listen to that feeling. I was emotionally attached to my concept of feeling well, looking well and living well. It was during a conversation with Liz where she pointed out that I had made a decision that was not in line with my concept. I quickly reversed that decision and returned to sleeping well! When things don’t feel right now, I tune into my intuition and uncover whats causing me to feel that way.
Your idea is your north star
I learnt how important it is to keep going back to your vision and concept. Sometimes in the middle of setting up a business you can take a wrong turn that is not in line with your vision. Once I had my tag line for my business, it helped guide me in the right direction at all hurdles. It is so important to create clarity around your concept, it really does save you a lot of time and precious sleep.
Take a break
Setting up your own business is incredibly consuming. You sleep, eat and breathe it. ‘Take a break’ is something I heard very regularly from Des. He pushed me out the door to get some exercise and fresh air and I still could have done more. He made me turn off the laptop at night, so I could give my brain a break. It was not always easy to do what I was told but I am very grateful he ordered me around a bit! The best part was taking a cruise in the middle of the project with minimal internet access; it really taught me how important is it switch off amidst the madness of new business setup.
Be prepared to wakeup thinking what the hell have you done
Nobody warned me about this, but it was very real and not just once! During the project, I would wake my husband up in the middle of the night to tell him I had made a big mistake. In those fearful moments, I really believed I had made a huge mistake. You really do have to breathe through the fear and do it anyway.
You need to be distinctive; customer service is everything.
Listening to your customers, building rapport with your customers and understanding their needs is essential; customer service is everything. I feel great customer service from the highly recommended suppliers I chose for our brands. There is only ever a solution, an ear offered, and they really appreciate my custom; they make me feel valuable. My suppliers invested significant time in the beginning and continue to do so to understand the business and my business needs; it’s simply a must. We strive to make our own customers feel valued, special and experience a unique destination.
There is no point in being cross about the uncontrollables
There will always be teething problems when establishing a new business, particularly when there is a fit out involved. I was blessed with the builder we chose who only came to us with solutions. Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan with everyone you choose to work with! There were stressful moments and there were times when I got cross. Unfortunately, it is a total waste of energy and staying calm and breathing through it is a better alternative.
You will make some mistakes
We have had seven amazing weeks in business and there have been some small mistakes made for sure; thankfully nothing catastrophic and all good learning. I’m now in planning mode for Phase two of the business and I plan to invest more time in the areas where I made small mistakes. The most important learning is to spend time reflecting on the little failures and the learning it brought.
Back yourself and feed your confidence
We all know how important it is to back yourself, yet it is more important than ever when you are setting up a business. Decision making becomes lonely; I missed my peer network and my confidantes. In a corporate structure you have a lot of support; between project, training, staffing and even having a boss! Suddenly you are the boss and there is no one else but you in the driving seat. Backing yourself is crucial, difficult yet important when you are having those what the hell have I done moments. Exercise and sleep is important for my confidence as is taking a moment to sit down, preferably in your business and allowing yourself to be proud. People are wonderful and will spend a lot of time being proud of you; reward and celebrate your success preferably with bubbles!
As I reflect on my reflection, I think it is safe to say these nuggets apply to any change we are about to make; big or small. Who knows what 2018 will bring for all of us but let us all feel the fear we feel through change and do it anyway.