The year 2017 is an extra special one for us here at Your Excellency Ltd. It marks 10 years of being in business, something we’re extremely proud of.
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As I reflect on the decade, I know that Malcolm and I taking the decision to set up our own executive training and coaching organisation was absolutely the right thing to do. I also know it’s been a tremendous learning journey and I share with you now my 10 lessons.
Lesson 1 : It’s bloody hard work!
Running your own business takes hard graft, diligence and determination. In the infamous words of Churchill “blood, sweat and tears” are involved no matter what sector or industry you’re working in. Your business is yours – and because of that there’s a powerful bond that drives you to ensure you do everything to make it a success.
Lesson 2 : Be the wearer of many hats
Whatever your title – CEO, Director, MD, Owner – what this actually means is that you’re going to have to wear many hats to succeed. You’ll need to grasp commercial, finance, marketing, compliance, IT and other skills and know-how. I remember early on in Your Excellency’s life, when the phone rang and someone asked for the “Finance Department”. The caller obviously imaged an organisation larger than our existing 2 Directors at the time. I had the urge to put them on hold for a few minutes as I transferred them (back to me – the other side of the desk, now holding a calculator and opening an Excel spreadsheet to feel more the part……).
Lesson 3 : Schedule in “down time”
So, running your own business means you’re your own boss. You set your hours of work. If you’re sat with your laptop on your knee firing off emails at midnight and that’s your choice, that’s your choice. But if it’s encroaching on your “down time” you need to have a word with yourself. Ensure you’re taking that much needed “down time”.
Malcolm and I set up Your Excellency Ltd so we’d have more freedom and flexibility with our time and could really enjoy the children growing up . We can be at the school gates at 3.45pm to pick up our daughter Lottie, we can join our son Josh for a golf tournament, we can attend the Christmas production on a weekday morning, we can take part in the parents relay race at sports day (okay I’m getting a bit carried away now…maybe not the latter!).
Lesson 1 has taught us that we need to congratulate ourselves for our “bloody hard work” and we book holidays and family outings in advance so we have something to look forward to.
Lesson 4 : Know your worth
In the early days it can be easy to fall into the trap of offering your services for a reduced rate and, dare I say it, complimentary/free as you build credibility and recognition from clients. That’s okay. Each opportunity needs to be accessed individually. However, there’s a fine balance needed here. I learned very quickly that people are quick to take unfair advantage of your free offers. And by offering too many “freebies” you are devaluing your expertise.
Remember, you’re great at what you do, that’s why you’re in the business you’re in. Your clients are expecting a great service and therefore there’s a commercial element to this – they need to pay for that service.
Lesson 5 : Remember, when you meet others you are building a relationship
I love the sayings that “people buy people” and “rapport is everything”. Whilst of course you are going to take heed of Lesson 3, ultimately when you meet someone for the first time it’s all about first-impressions. It’s about creating and then maintaining a relationship.
Lesson 6 : Seek out other people’s expertise and help
For a perfectionist and a fiercely independent character (I admitted it Malcolm!), this lesson is one of my greatest. There is no failure in admitting that you need help and outside expertise. Indeed you could be hindering your success by not tapping into the resources (and people) available to you. Remember that and you’ll go a long way.
Lesson 7 : Collaboration and Partnerships are key
Leading on from Lesson 5 and 6 then, seek out partnership and collaborations with other experts.
Not only do Malcolm and I deliver training and coaching through Your Excellency Ltd, we also work as Associate Trainers with other major, highly regarded training organisations – Hemsley Fraser, WMP (formerly Reed Learning), Pitman Training and international providers.
I collaborate with Executive Secretary Magazine and PA Life Magazine in providing white papers, interviews, articles and training. I work as the lead trainer and coach for Tiger Recruitment. I write a blog post for Wearethecity. I deliver qualifications and CPD sessions for the PA profession as The IAM’s preferred training provider.
Our work has evolved over time to supplement and compliment what we deliver under our “Your Excellency Ltd” brand and banner – in doing so this has contributed to our success. Thank you to everyone who is working in partnership and collaborating with us – we do appreciate it.
Lesson 8 : Be flexible
Be flexible in terms of the amount of time tasks take to complete. Add on a bit. Then a bit more. Be prepared for the unexpected. “Morph” your business according to the opportunities that come your way. Don’t be afraid to change tact if something isn’t working as you’d planned and hoped for. Be open to new ideas.
Lesson 9 : Be Honest
I’m completely treading into values now! There needs to be a transparency when running your own business. You need to be honest and direct with your customers, clients and team members. Everyone needs to know how things stand in order that they have an accurate appreciation of a situation. I was recently asked to speak on the topic of economics at a rather salubrious event in London. At the intellectual level we are talking about, this is “not my bag” in any way, shape or form so I honestly responded that this wasn’t my area of expertise (at the same time recommending an Associate as better suited to this opportunity thus promoting Lesson 7).
Lesson 10 : Time flies when you are having fun!
Malcolm and I chose to set up Your Excellency Ltd because we’re both passionate about what we do. I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are aspects of my role that I least enjoy, but for the most part I wake up on a Monday morning with a smile and vigour to do what I love doing for the week ahead.
Your Excellency’s ethos when training is that “fun learning makes for memorable learning” and I truly believe we’ve lived and breathed that in terms of running Your Excellency Ltd. 10 years! Wow! How time flies!
Your Excellency Ltd
Your Excellency Ltd a provider of leading edge personal and organisational development coaching and training based in the UK.
All our development training is tailored to your needs and delivered in a fun and experiential way. We believe the best way to learn is to do it! Our training is cost effective and brings efficiency and effectiveness to your teams and organisation as a whole. Our workshops support Continuing Professional Development and we are proud to be members of The Association for Coaching. Your Excellency Ltd is led by Malcolm and Lindsay Taylor.