We chat to Kymberlee Jay, entrepreneur, business consultant and business coach about running her consulting business, not being chained to her desk and the challenge of getting new ventures off the ground.
What time does your day usually start and end?
I’m up at 7am with the intention of going for a quick run in the morning, that rarely actually happens but I feel better knowing that the intention is there. My work day usually begins at 8am with a scan of the day’s to-do’s along with my scheduled appointments/meetings and a quick email check. My day ends around 11pm, before I switch off I make sure tomorrow’s to-do’s are listed and I’m aware of what the day will look like so I can hit the ground running in the morning. I usually go to bed at around midnight and read a few pages of my Kindle before I fall asleep (I usually fall asleep much more quickly than anticipated and wake up with said Kindle on my face).
What is your favourite part of your job and what is your least favourite part?
I have two ‘favourite parts’ of my job – the first is that I’m not tethered to a desk or a specific office, I can work from anywhere in the world and that feels great – every day I am thankful for that. The second favourite has to be watching business owners I’ve helped feel more confident and achieve their goals. I’m a coach by nature and at my best when supporting others to do great things in their business. I can’t think of a “least favourite part” at all…
What inspired you to start your business? (And what made you want to be your own boss?)
I’ve known from quite early on in my working life that I was destined to be my own boss. I’m the world’s worst employee and have been fired from pretty much every job I’ve ever had. I realised that the only way I was going to have any kind of enjoyable and sustained career would be to create and manage it myself, so, I started out freelancing and learning as much as I could about business before building my own. Now I quite like my boss.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My coaching and consultancy business is based on real world experience, I advise the way that I do because I have first-hand experience – I didn’t go to business or marketing school and feel like I am in a better position because of this as I don’t quote theory from text books, if I haven’t done it myself then I’m not talking about it! I’m here to disrupt the idea that success in business and entrepreneurship is reserved for the privileged few with an MBA, as with the right mindset, planning and processes, a better business is achievable for all – and I’m here to help make that happen. The idea to start a business to facilitate this was a no-brainer.
How did you fund your business?
I’m the queen of bootstrapping! I validate my business ideas by wearing almost all of the hats to get the product or service to market, then hiring people one by one to wear those hats for me and to enable the business to grow. Of course, most of that is backed by my well-worn Barclaycard* until the business starts to consistently generate an income. (*other credit facilities are available)
What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
Challenges. Well, getting new ventures off the ground can be always be challenging, but you can mitigate challenges with planning, organisation and just getting things done. In business, as in life, there are always hurdles. So your attitude in tackling them is important!
What do you feel are the biggest obstacles to growth for SMEs in the UK?
Obstacles for growth are nearly always finance related. Starting a business is quite process driven so long as you know exactly what you’re selling, who you’re selling it to and why you’re selling it to them this part is achievable. Making it profitable is straightforward so long as you have a tried and trusted system for getting what you’re selling to those who need it. The difficult part is what happens beyond that – scaling the business is about having the funds available to do more and reach further, which is less painful if you’ve got investors waiting in the wings or your business vertical sits under the right umbrella for government funding (and as an aside, there is still way too little support for digital businesses, and also for vital startups working in a “remote” fashion though. Rant over.) – but if not there’s this super scary drop-off point where you’ve just got to jump. This means putting the majority (if not all) of your financial resources into a targeted strategy and hoping that your parachute works…
Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them/learn from them?
Not mistakes per se, more decisions I probably wouldn’t make again, ha! Most of them are to do with marketing spend, and though I am brilliant at helping others with their marketing budgets I have historically been pants with my own. I now have a wonderful person in place to analyse my marketing ideas and outlay extensively and ensure a reasonable return on investment, rather than me saying “hey, let’s buy more chocolate teapots!”.
What previous experiences have helped you in starting your business?
My experience comes mostly from working in the entertainment industry as a professional dance, where tenacity and a thick skin are paramount for any kind of success. This applies wholeheartedly to being in business – it’s not for the faint hearted. My experience has also made me impervious to the word “no” and I often find other, more creative ways to make everything happen the way I’d like it to.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to start their own business?
There’s no such thing as failure, only finding different ways of achieving success. If a particular idea doesn’t work, that’s not the end of YOU, it’s the beginning of a new opportunity that could be the making of you.
Would you do anything differently if you could start again from scratch?
I’d spend more time learning about, and understanding, the power of digital (including social media) and how it can be applied to business. I’ve been doing considerable catch-up over the past 6 months but I’m almost there now!
What do you do to relax away from the hustle and bustle of work?
I like to fight! I enjoy training at my local Taekwondo club twice a week to release some steam. I also enjoy running, just not so much when it’s at the crack of dawn.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running your own business?
Exactly what I’m doing now – coaching and consulting in some shape or form, ideally still helping people to run their businesses better.
Do you manage to achieve a good work/life balance?
I try. My family would argue that I could do better so I know it’s something I need to work on. When I work I tend to do so quite intensely, and although my goal may be to spend 2 hours at my desk, I can often still be found there 6 hours later tapping away on my laptop. It’s harder to pull yourself away from work when you love what you do!