We first had the opportunity of getting to know Jane, founder and CEO of accredited healthcare training provider ECG, during her BGP journey in January 2018, and more recently she has shared her inspirational story with us. Read the interview to learn how she quit her job and successfully built not only a business, but a lifestyle that has granted her freedom, flexibility and a priceless sense of accomplishment.
Q: What inspired you to start the business?
A: As a nurse I always had a passion for resuscitation. After setting up a new training department at Milton Keynes Hospital I decided I wanted the freedom to influence improved patient care within primary care and wider healthcare settings. I always knew I wanted to run my own business but never knew what it would look like. In 2002, I took a long break to Australia. This gave me the time to really reflect on where I was going, then it became clear! Combining my training as a nurse, my passion and experience within resuscitation, along with a real gap in the market for resuscitation training consistent with primary care settings was the answer! So, I got straight to it.
Q: What was your biggest challenge in getting the business off the ground and how did you overcome it?
A: There was a conflict of interest between my role at the hospital and my new business, so I knew I wanted to do the right thing and have a clean break before starting ECG. Being single, I decided to rent out two bedrooms in my house to cover my mortgage payments before new work (and money) started to come in. It was pretty scary on day one opening up a blank diary and wondering how I was going to fill it with work! The other challenge was with my pricing - it was difficult to find out what others were charging, so there was a degree of just 'testing the market' with the pricing. You might call it making it up!
Q: What was your biggest challenge in growing the business from a start-up to where it is now or where you want it to be?
A: People, people, people. Getting the right people doing the right jobs. You quickly realise you can't do it all, you have to invest in other people, learn to delegate and trust them. It doesn't always work out well! Having people who share the same values and goals as you – and you need to communicate them well - is essential, otherwise a degree of resentment can build if you are not all on the same path.
Q: Which are your top 3 tips for small businesses looking to grow?
- Look inwardly first - make sure you have the right people, processes and infrastructure to do the job and to grow
- Find out which is your route of least resistance and most profit and focus on that
- Be really clear with your business objectives and goals and do not get distracted by other things that do not contribute to those goals.
Q: What were the personal objectives you wanted to achieve by growing your business?
A: I adopted 3 children early on in my business so personally I wanted to create a business which would keep me comfortable financially but also give me the flexibility to work part time and be flexible with my working hours, and it largely works that way very well. Keeping your personal goals and business goals aligned to each other is essential. I sometimes have to re-consider taking on work commitments if they are not in line with what I'm trying to achieve personally.
Q: How has successfully growing your business changed your life?
A: A sense of achievement and success which you cannot measure! It has also given me choices about what I do in my personal life, allowing me to choose between time and money as a balance. I also really love being able to work at being the best employer I can be, looking at ways of making my business a place where people want to work and helping to improve staff well-being and work/life balance.
Q: Any comments for business owners considering the Business Growth Programme?
A: The BGP programme at Cranfield has been life changing both personally and professionally and I only wish I had done it years ago. It is worth every penny and you won't look back!