This month I caught up with inspiring businesswoman Jan Ibbott, who was the founder of UK women’s business network, WIBN. After selling it in 2011 she now runs her own business, she got back to basics doing what she loves and has time to nurture her passion of street photography whilst taking some time out to create a good work-life balance.
Business: Business Buddy
Self-employed since: 2005
What do you do and what is your business?
JI: I run business networking groups for women. My involvement stems from founding the WIBN business in 2005, which I sold in 2011. I was able to keep hold of just six groups which I still run today but I really wanted to get back to doing what I love, helping women to build their brands and businesses. I’m now able to do this with my new brand Business Buddy, where I act as a business advisor and strategist.
Why did you start your own business?
JI: I was employed as a Marketing Manager for a well-known retail jewellery brand, but after a lot of grooming for the role, I was passed over for the big promotion. I was left feeling very angry so decided to leave and set up my own business. It’s been the best thing to ever happen to me… every cloud has a silver lining.
Tell us about your life, how do you manage to juggle work and other commitments?
JI: Until recently I did not have a work-life balance! I’ve always had a very serious work ethic, worked all hours, all of the time and found it very hard to relax. I’ve changed that now and would recommend it to everyone… it makes life more interesting to have interest away from work. I am fortunate to work only with the clients I want to in my consultancy business, and my networking groups are so familiar that I run them easily.
What goals did you set yourself for your business when you launched?
JI: My goals have been very different for both of my businesses. With Business Buddy it was to help as many small and micro businesses that I could, sharing my insights and using past experience to prevent them from making costly mistakes and plan their success.
What is your biggest challenge that you face?
JI: I’m very detailed in my approach and my 100% if often other peoples 75%! I find it hard not to always find more to do, which means that I find it hard to switch off once I’ve started a task or project. It has to be done fully to my standards or not at all.
What does business success look like to you?
JI: I feel that I’ve reached success. It took me a long time to build a solid reputation and business that I no longer need to market them. Business comes to me via contacts and connections I’ve made over the years. I feel incredibly lucky to have a good network of inspiring individuals.
What advice would you give a female entrepreneur starting out or growing her business?
JI: Always believe you can, and you will! If you have a good idea, try your hardest to make it work. A business usually fails when the owner does not dedicate enough time to it. 100% effort, gains 100% success. Long hours and sacrifice are what it takes to take it to the next level.
What does an average day look like for you?
JI: If it’s a networking day, I’m usually on the road around 9 am to get there early and avoid a stressful start to the day. Usually, I meet a networking member for a 1:1 before the meeting, I then chair the meeting and have another 1:1 afterwards to maximise my time out of the office. I then drive back to my home office and get straight to dealing with emails and calls from the day. I tend to finish around 9 pm, watch TV, read a book or browse the internet for business inspiration and new ideas.
Finally, if you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?
JI: Write a business plan, follow it and be prepared to become fluid and flexible. Roll with the opportunities rather than drive a business down a single track road – it’s good to organically grow.
Thanks to Jan Ibbott for sharing her fantastic story and experiences as a business owner. I’d love to hear your story! Get in touch and connect with me on social to be considered for our Inspiring Businesswomen series: email here or connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.