Article written by Jennifer Parratt the Founder of Igloo Coaching and Consulting.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Charles Darwin, ‘The Origin of the Species.’
I’m not entirely sure when Change Management became my career, I suppose I just changed what I needed to have a career I enjoyed. Ironic isn’t it?
From working in banking (please forgive me) to moving via I.T. into consultancy, I specialised in change management and communication. I actually enjoyed helping clients adapt their business to make it the most successful. You see the headlines every day “businesses find it tougher to survive…”, “insolvency reaches 10 year high…”, “small businesses are struggling…” I can’t help but wonder if listening to Mr Darwin could help these companies. Maybe. Maybe not. But you need to know that you’ve tried everything. From reviewing marketing strategies to coaching business leaders into stronger decisions, from investing in people performance to embracing social media, there are opportunities to be taken in any company. And in this market, every opportunity needs to be taken.
I started Igloo Coaching and Consulting (www.iglooconsulting.co.uk) after tiring from delivering to large corporates and spending most of the working week on the road or in the air. You can’t really make a difference from behind your own steering wheel. I wanted to work closer to home with smaller companies where I could actually see the difference my work made. Igloo was born.
Established in 2009, Igloo is a niche consultancy providing business solutions in change, communication, training and coaching.
What does that mean?
Well, if you need to make a change in your business, or even if you don’t think you need to change but your competitors are so it seems like a good idea, that’s where we come in. Most clients don’t actually know what they need to change when we arrive, they just know that they’re not making enough money, or they’re not getting enough clients, or they’re losing clients, or they’re losing their mind (running your own business does funny things to some people.) Usually budgets are tight, that’s why we do fixed price deals. There’s no point spending all your efficiency savings on external help (you’d be surprised how many people do.) We help clients retarget their marketing strategies and we support companies as they engage with their employees (which also helps with your marketing, after all, how many employees talk about their jobs to their friends and family?) We coach business owners and managers to discover better ways of running their businesses and help them to target their training strategies to ensure a productively skilled workforce , motivated to provide excellent customer service. Basically, we help companies work through the required changes to make their business more profitable. Sustainable change is hard, Igloo provides the support businesses need to survive.
Setting up a company isn’t a decision to take lightly and it hasn’t been easy. Igloo was set up during a period of economic recession when businesses were tightening their belts and contracts were being cancelled. Added to this, my previous work had been in the South East, so I had to start networking from scratch if I wanted work closer to home.
So what pearls of wisdom can I impart to you folks? Well, wisdom or no wisdom, here’s some lessons I’ve learnt:
Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.
Local councils do their utmost to help local businesses, so take them up on their offers of help and support. They have staff who are highly experienced in starting local businesses and some offer free courses to get you started. You may even qualify for grants too which all help in the initial stages. Go to networking meetings and get your name known. You may not find clients, but you may find companies you can learn from or collaborate with. This is just as important.
Get it in writing.
At the start it can feel like you’re David against the Goliaths of ‘established companies’. New opportunities crop up all the time, and even though Goliath may well be experienced and good at their job, it doesn’t mean you can’t do that job too. Do whatever you can to make it easy for a client to work with you instead. You may have to provide free services to begin with, but word of mouth is very powerful so if you do a good job, more paid contracts will follow. I’d also recommend getting testimonials from all your clients. Feedback is the holy grail of business; not only does it help to improve your product or service, but it also gives future clients confidence in your abilities. It’s your job to make it as painless as possible for clients to invest in you.
Just do something.
Running your own business will get you down. Some days nothing will go right and it’ll feel like the biggest mistake you ever made was setting up a venture on your own. At times like these, just do something. Anything. Usually accompanied by a large glass of wine. And chocolate. It may not feel like you’re getting near your goals, but at least you’re still moving if you’re still doing ‘something’. And you never know what opportunity is around the corner.
Finally, I’ve been asked about who inspires me, and honestly, lots of people do: Ellen MacArthur, Maggie Thatcher, Mo Mowlem… But at the end of the day, in my work, the person who drives me on to be better than I was before, the role-model I look up? Well, it’s my Mum (please don’t tell her though, I’ll never hear the end of it.)
I’ll leave you with a favourite quote of mine, from Paolo Coelho:
“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.”
Paolo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
Ps. He also said “Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” Pass me the Pinot Grigio…
Jennifer is the Director and Principal Consultant at Igloo Coaching & Consulting Ltd.
For a discussion about how we could help your company, contact us: