Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Brenda Hector, of Aberdeen Business Coaching, trading as ActionCOACH.
How and why did you start in business?
I previously worked in research and the subsea industry, and was also a partner in a wedding car business for 12 years.
When I graduated with an MBA in 2018 from Robert Gordon University I wanted to run a business that would provide me with a decent income, a good work-life balance and job satisfaction.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what business to start but I am very much a “people person” and business coaching felt like a really good fit.
I decided on the ActionCOACH franchise, because buying a proven business idea and structure was appealing.
Coaching allows me to help business owners who have great ideas but need support.
I relish a challenge and love business, learning and people. This allows me to enjoy all three.
How did you get to where you are today?
As a franchisee, I was able to follow the ActionCOACH system and once my first few clients started seeing results it was easier to find more.
I started with one type of coaching but quickly realised it didn’t suit everyone, so launched a range of programmes to suit solopreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises.
I now have 25 clients, with very different businesses in a variety of industries.
It’s exciting to learn about their businesses and incredibly rewarding to find the right strategies to help them achieve their goals.
Throughout the pandemic, I have run regular webinars and offered free coaching sessions to anyone who was made redundant or took the plunge into self-employment.
When I couldn’t coach anyone in person, all meetings and workshops moved online and that has worked extremely well.
I’ve been able to expand my geographical reach too, as my licence covers the whole of Scotland – something that may not have happened had it not been for the pandemic.
Who helped you?
I couldn’t have built my business without the support of many people.
Networking groups have been invaluable – BNI Aberdeen Alpha and the Aberdeen and Highlands Women’s Community Networking Group in particular.
I also now outsource tasks where I lack the time or skills, including bookkeeping, email management and social media scheduling.
The ActionCOACH community is a massive help. My fellow coaches support my growth and always push me to be my best, as I do for my clients.
The encouragement of colleagues is invaluable – we share challenges and successes, as well as run collaborative workshops together.
When I need legal advice, the Federation of Small Businesses is the go-to organisation.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Mistakes are essential in order to learn. I’ve made a few, mostly around marketing.
I’ve learnt what works for my business and what doesn’t.
My biggest mistake, however, would be not taking the leap sooner to own my own business.
It would have been great to have the freedom and flexibility that I have now when my kids were smaller.
What is your greatest achievement?
One client grew his business by more than 50% during 2020 despite the pandemic.
Another went from being a solo virtual assistant to having 20 international partners, delivering a variety of business support services, within two years of working with me.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I would love for the gender balance in entrepreneurship to be equal.
I would increase funding directed towards female entrepreneurs and give them more family care support.
And I’d make entrepreneurship more accessible for women through relatable and accessible mentors and networks.
I’m working on the latter through my Scale Her Up podcast. I interview female entrepreneurs who share their stories, the challenges they’ve overcome and their advice to other women in business.
What do you still hope to achieve?
I expect to qualify as a silver level ActionCOACH by the end of this year and aim to achieve the gold award the following year.
I also want to be a published author. I’m writing a business and self-improvement book for women, and on course to publish it next year.
In addition, I’d like to see some of my clients winning a business award next year.
What do you do to relax?
I am in my element when out walking our three border collies.
I enjoy walking, running and cycling. I also like to cook and have people round for food and drinks – entertaining and spending quality time with friends and family are very important to me.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I run a business book club and we meet online on the first Wednesday of every month.
We’re currently reading Stephen R Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
What do you waste your money on?
My family would say books and wine, but I don’t think they are a waste of money.
How would your friends describe you?
I’d like them to say friendly, professional, family-oriented, strong, articulate, helpful and driven.
What would your enemies say about you?
I hope I don’t have any.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I’m driving my twins’ VW Polo while I await delivery of an electric Skoda Enyaq.
Hopefully, it’ll arrive before the end of the year – that will be a great Christmas present.