Dr Sam Collins is the CEO of Aspire, a coaching and leadership development company. Here she shares her inspirational story with WeAreTheCity.
What inspired you to start a business?
Aspire was created as a tribute to my mother’s legacy. She was a very independent and savvy business woman. After her unexpected passing, while I was still finding my way as a young woman at university, I was inspired to help women better themselves in their work and life. Aspire, a coaching and leadership development company, was founded in 2000. A decade later, Aspire’s non-profit offshoot, the Aspire Foundation, was created to further improve the lives of women around the world by providing women in non-profits with much needed mentoring.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge in being my own boss is chartering new territory. I have never had a business plan, I have always just set a goals and went for them. Right now the business is growing and I am learning, with the help of great mentors of my own, how to keep up with an expanding business. What is great about being my own boss is that I can create my working day around my family rather than the other way around. My husband and my three children are very important to me and I am able to balance my work with spending time with them.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
I am a huge promoter of setting goals and learning from both successes and failures. There are many different techniques that I teach on how to set goals. One of my favourite tools is creating a vision board, which is similar to a collage but uses your goals and dreams as the focus. Many of my successes can be traced back through the pictures I pasted on the vision boards. They were, at first, just pictures that liked or had a gut feeling about and now they are my real life. One picture that I pasted on a vision board when I was still living in the UK, was of a fun loving man with the distinguished look of Sean Connery, holding a young boy. Years later I noticed that a picture of my husband and our first son looked eerily similar to that picture on my vision board. As for failures, I wrote book, Radio Heaven, on how the failures that I’ve encountered in my life actually turned into my greatest assets. It was because of my failures, that I was able to become and entrepreneur and create a thriving business that I love.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
The biggest challenge that I’ve faced as a business owner is a recent goal that I set for the Aspire Foundation of impacting 1 billion women by 2020. We reached our goal of impacting 1 million women in 2015 but we still have a long way to go to reach 1 billion women. However, it was not long after that I set the 1 billion goal that I was contacted by a global technology company, Avanade. They serendipitously offered to be our corporate partner. I am more confident now that we will be able to empower 1 billion women by 2020 and help make the world a better place for everyone.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I’ve always had mentors and coaches, from the start of my business up until today. I have several different coaches and mentors at the same time. One of my most recent mentors is Adam Warby, the CEO of Avanade, our corporate partner. He is really helping me focus in on expanding Aspire and the Aspire Foundation into successful global brand and making my dream of empowering women in the world a reality.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
At our Aspire events, whether, live or online, we talk about the importance of networking and give the chance through these events for people to network with other likeminded individuals. There is much more power when we come together than we can ever have on our own. What may seem like an impossible goal to you, could be accomplished in a second if you come in contact with the right person. I’ve seen this happen time and time again at our events. We often have our attendees paste a goal of theirs on a networking board and they will usually get several contacts of someone that can help them.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
My tip for scaling a business and manging growth is don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am not an expert on everything in my business. I know what I’m good and what I love to do and for the rest of the areas that I’m not as knowledge or passionate about, I seek out those who are. Mentors and coaches, of course, are a great asset when planning for and managing business growth.
What does the future hold for you?
My family and I plan to travel the world and spend even more time together. I enjoy seeing the impact Aspire and the Aspire Foundation has had on so many people around the world. The women that are impacted, live everywhere from rural villages in Africa and the Middle East to larger cities in the US and UK and everywhere in between. It gives me great joy to know that we will only continue to reach women and inspire them create better lives for themselves and people around them.