Posted: Fri 20th Sep 2019
_Kathy Ennis is a mentor who helps micro business owners and side-hustlers transform their ideas into a profitable business. She is also an accredited trainer for the Facebook and Enterprise Nation She Means Business campaign.
The Enterprise Nation member shares insights into her day._
My alarm goes off…
The alarm goes off at 7am, but I don't get up until about 7.30am; I have a nice half hour listening to Classic FM.
I have never been a morning person; it takes me about an hour to get past the monosyllabic stage and be able to hold a conversation. If I ever have to get up earlier, it's a nightmare and I don't sleep the night before because I'm petrified of oversleeping.
People think I'm joking when I say I set up my business so I can start work at 10am!
My morning rituals are…
Coffee - a great big cup of strong coffee - and BBC Breakfast.
Once I have drunk that I can start to function, and I go and make my morning smoothie. The smoothie is full of lots of goodies like oats, seeds, spinach, ginger - then I pop in some fruits and a bit of vegan protein powder.
I am attempting to be a bit more active and get to the gym about three times a week. On those days it's coffee before gym and smoothie after.
My morning commute is …
I have an office in my home. I live in rural Norfolk, three minutes from the sea. If I stand on tiptoes, I can see the sea from my office window. I get loads of natural light and I am surrounded by trees and wildlife. Glorious!
As a business mentor the majority of my work is talking to people, and I do most of that via Zoom, so I don't need a specific space. If I do need to meet a client face-to-face it's generally in a hotel or coffee shop.
My typical day…
Hmmm, typical day? Not so much.
I work with about 10 clients at any one time - it really depends on the complexity of the advice, guidance and support they need - so there is probably at least one client mentoring session. Then it's likely I will have a couple of Discovery Call conversations with people who are interested in working with me or believe I may be able to help them with an issue they are experiencing.
Each day has to have some time dedicated to my Facebook Group, 26Piggies, and some work on my online engagement.
The rest of the time will be taken up with working through the outcomes of the action points of my clients and preparing for upcoming clients. Reading, researching and listening to podcasts or interesting radio programmes.
I am also a trainer, so there is often a need to create course content for the upcoming courses I will be delivering.
Then there's all the 'other' business activities - such as accounts, answering emails, managing my website etc. etc.
I have an overall plan and a to-do list, but each day has to be planned separately - the day before! I'm an advocate of the saying "today ain't over til tomorrow is planned"
My responsibilities are…
I'm a micro business - just like the clients I work with.
I do outsource a few things because of time (mine) and because those folk are better at it than me!
My most memorable moment is…
OMG, there have been so many (I've been doing this for years and years) but I think, for me, it's always those lightbulb moment that my clients have; when they realise why I have been encouraging them to do a specific thing or something in a particular way. And then - hey presto! - the problem is solved or the thing that wasn't working now is.
And it's not massive things most of the time, such as my 'Three Cups of Tea' process - taking three times 15 minutes a day (the time it takes to drink a cup of tea) and using that to take baby-steps towards achieving something that seems massive and daunting.
One of my clients has written a book using this method, another has got to grips with their social media.
As I said, not massive things but things that make a massive difference.
Why I love my business…
Because I can start work at 10am - Seriously!
Because I can structure my day whichever way I want. I can go for a walk on the beach or pop out to talk to a friend as long as the work gets done.
But, as well as that, it's the people I get to work with and the diversity of their business ideas (and approaches!)
Don't get me wrong, it's not all sweetness and light. I have had a to walk away from a couple of clients because our chemistry wasn't right, while some others were just not prepared to put in the work. However, on the whole, they are great.
The most challenging task is…
I still have a 'thing' about phone calls; however 'warm' they are I have to really gird my loins (do I have loins?) to pick up the phone.
Also, although I do it loads I still have to steel myself when walking into a room full of strangers. So, networking in a new place with new faces can be a bit of a worry.
After work …
I watch telly.
If you look at the About section on my website you will see I describe myself like this: "I'm a TV enthusiast; everything from makeover programmes to sci-fi and vampire stuff. I am controller of the TV remote!"
I know I should say I do lots of really interesting stuff; listening to radio programmes and podcasts or reading this or that book - but not in the evenings.
Nothing beats a good cup of tea (made by hubby of course), a house makeover programme and one of my cats.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be…
Oh my, I had absolutely no aspirations. I come from a very working class, low skilled, make end meet background.
I've been around for quite a while. Things were very different in the 70s.
No, I tell a lie; I did once express an interest in acting but my form teacher told me not to even think about it as kids like me didn't stand a chance.
The idea of starting a business was never, ever - EVER - on my radar.
The careers advice at my school consisted of a cupboard under the stairs with a few leaflets about joining the forces or working in retail. I think I was in the second tranche of ROSLA (Raising of the School Leaving Age) and my school did not have a tradition of kids doing A-Levels or going on to higher education.
I surprised myself when I got a good number of O-Levels and three half-decent A-Levels so went off to get a degree which I loved but it didn't give me any real, applicable skills (one of my areas of study was film, so I spent a good part of three years sitting in the dark!)
I got my first full-time job six months after graduating (I worked Saturdays and part-time from the age of 13 until I got a full-time job). I started work in my local public library where, because I had a degree, they sponsored me to do my post graduate diploma (it's an MA now) in library and information science.
I loved it. I spent the next 17 years working in further and higher education managing libraries and learning resources and teaching information literacy (even before the Internet!).
I then did a 10-year stint managing the membership support department at the professional membership body for library and information professionals in the UK. It's there I started my first side-hustle, and the rest is history.
What is the best business tip you have ever received?
This is tricky because there have been so many really helpful people along the way and some ideas have become so entrenched, I don't even remember where I first heard them.
I had a bit of a sticky time in my business when I moved from running a side hustle to a full-time business. Financially it was a very dodgy time.
It was when I was at the lowest point when someone (thank you, whoever you are) said: "know your numbers" - and do you know what, they were absolutely right.
It took me a long time to fully understand that business isn't complicated.
Yes, business is about ideas, passion, creativity - but, my goodness, at its heart it's about being able to add up, multiply, divide and subtract.
Knowing basic things like how much it costs to run your business on a weekly, monthly or annual basis will ensure you don't undercharge; knowing the average number of people you need to talk to / engage with in order to convert the right number into paying customers; knowing your value per hour so you can make informed decisions about the real value of outsourcing.
"Know your numbers".