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By Sue Jefferson

Sue Jefferson has over 30 years’ experience in UK Director and Global Leadership roles. She specialises in strategy, innovation, manufacturing & change management and has transformed teams, businesses and brands of all sizes.

Entrepreneurs can have it all - more flexibility, freedom and time - as long as you embed a certain way of working from the start.  It might not happen often enough, but you don’t have to compromise.  It’s all in the planning, planning for flexibility in its wider sense and planning what you want to do - with added sparkle!

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Know your why

Knowing exactly why you’re running your business is what gets you up in the morning and gets you over the barriers and hurdles you will face as an entrepreneur.  So, ask yourself out loud why you want to start your own business.  Here are some reasons:

  • I want to be my own boss
  • I want to make a difference in the eyes of my children
  • I want financial independence
  • I want security (eg a roof over my head, not beholden to the whims of a company)
  • I want the IP recognition for my great idea
  • I want adventure, I bore easily
  • I want to work with a different business model, based on a social enterprise.

 Do revisit your ‘Why’ once a year because our reasons may change. 

Plan with the end in mind

Most people think about where they are now and what their next steps are.  Transformational performance starts with your vision for the future and works back. This brings the critical success factors to the surface. Set a timeline for three to five years.

  • What does success look like?  Bring it to life, visualise it, talk it through with others.
  • What will you see, hear, smell, feel? 
  • What will you see and hear from your customers, suppliers, employees, stakeholders?
  • What are your measures?
  • Picture it. Bring it to life as a Vision Board – pinned on the wall or screen saver. Keep your end in mind, front of mind.

Think of the ‘end’ as a destination on your travels - a place, an experience - and your plan is your route map to get there.  Of course, like any travels, we may divert off the route map – come across a roadblock, see something interesting, pause to enjoy - but the destination remains the goal.

Create a plan on a page

What do you need to deliver year by year?  Work your way back from the future considering the key factors – what type of customers, how many, supply demands, technology and equipment, people and financial needs.  Highlight the key milestones that will need to be in place and as you move closer to the first two years, break down into quarters then first twelve months.

Your one-page plan is your route map, so refer to it every day.  It keeps you on track and accountable.  Every day are you working towards those key deliverables? Ask yourself:

  • What’s missing for this to be realised today?  What are my options to do this?
  • How many more customers do I need now and how am I engaging and converting them?
  • Tests or Equipment - what do I need next and why?  What about financing routes? Cash flow?
  • What people do I need to make next step change? Who can help?

Every day, reflect on achievements

It’s important to reflect on what you have achieved every single day.  Go to bed noting these, as too often we only think of the “not dones.”  For instance, you made a difficult phone call or made a new contact.  You will feel and sleep better before getting up the next day to move things forward again. 

Build in moments of sparkle

Work to live! Putting yourself and what makes you sparkle right at the heart of what you do is my philosophy for life.  You need to be energised if you’re going to be able to deliver your business and manage the challenges ahead.

  1. Prioritise your roles in life.  Entrepreneur, partner, parent, daughter/son, volunteer.  Within these roles, what’s important? What activities give you joy and which need parking or changing?  Sparkling is about choices and you need to step back if necessary. That includes saying “no, not now.”
  2. Fill yourself with pure pleasure. Disregard the voice saying it’s self-indulgent or selfish.  It creates and maintains your energy and your ‘can do’ mindset. Plan a range of pure pleasures - it may be as simple as pausing for a cup of tea that’s still hot when you finish it, taking yourself to a quiet place for 30 minutes to read a book, cycle or walk outside. You can also book treats - meals out, canoeing, cinema or planning an adventure or a TV game show appearance!  Diarise one ‘pure pleasure’ a day to maintain your energy and prevent a ‘slump’.  And schedule the bigger ones across your year.
  3.  Finally, acknowledge your partner/family/friends and what they do that you value – calling you, listening to you, putting the bins out, doing the washing or giving you your “me time”.  Ask what are their dreams?  Add this to your vision board and support them to realise theirs - and ask them what their best thing has been today.

A few approaches to help people deliver results and sparkle – enjoy!

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About the author

Sue Jefferson now runs her own company, Possibilities Realised. She created the C.A.R.B.O.N. Model for Sparkling Success © and provides guidance to startups and scaleups. 

She is Chair of York and North Yorkshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership Business Board, a Non-Executive Director for a Yorkshire start-up and also the author of ‘Boardroom Ready Women – How to Deliver Business Results and Still Sparkle’.

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