What does it take to become a success? With a million and one self-help gurus out there, each with their own theories, it can sometimes feel like there is just too much advice to choose from. Here at Prime, we hold to the principle that experience really is the best teacher. In 26 years, we’ve grown from a two-woman startup to a thriving recruitment business that employs over 40 staff and has clients across Essex, Suffolk and the wider South East. It’s been a long and, at times, bumpy road since our MD Robyn Holmes, a local Witham girl and her friend Margaret Locke, decided to go into business together, over a glass of wine in the local pub. How did they do it? This month, Robyn shared the rules she lives by in Essex Life Magazine’s “Leading Ladies” feature. 100 years since Suffragettes won women the right to vote, the article celebrates the success of some of Essex’s most successful business women. We’ve pooled their top tips on what it takes to make it to the top:
1. Be inspired by others
As a recruiter and a natural people-person, we weren’t surprised to see that Robyn draws her inspiration from connecting with like-minded people: “I have a passion and genuine interest in how other businesses work … I draw my inspiration from other business owners I meet or talk to every day who, like me, are passionate about providing a great service or product to benefit others.” You may have heard of the phrase “No man is an island” – well, no woman is either! Draw on your personal and professional networks for mentorship and expertise.
2. Identify your passion
If you’re going to succeed against the odds, you’re going to need a real fire in your belly, as Absolute Angels Montessori Nursery and Soaring High Montessori School owner Sarah Rowledge knows: “There can be no better formula than to find something that you love doing, that you are deeply passionate about and that makes a difference to others every day.” For Sarah, that meant bringing the unique Monstessori education style to the Essex area. Identify what it is that makes you want to change the world around you, whether that’s in business or another sector, to give your mission some real launch power.
3. Don’t take no for an answer
Dreaming big? If you’ve set your sights on surpassing the mediocre, the chances are that you’re going to come up against your fair share of obstacles along the way. This is something Tracey Dickens , partner and head of Commercial & Corporate Finance at Birkett Long LLP knows all too well. How did she overcome them? “Determination, dedication and a supportive environment. I went in to law and there were a few obstacles, but once I set my mind on becoming a lawyer I never gave up.”
4. Let off some steam every once in a while!
It’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming a workaholic when you’re trying to make the big bucks. In our ever-connected world, it can be impossible to switch off. To maximise your leisure time, pick hobbies that force you to be present. Jacqui Braithwaite, owner of beautiful pub, restaurant and hotel The Finchingfield Lion goes by the “work hard, play hard” mantra: “Before falling pregnant with my first son I was a regular skydiver … it’s important to have a life outside your business.”
5. Listen to learn!
Be a sponge! The key to staying on top of your game is to be willing to let others teach you something new every day. Sam Lindley, owner of Cloud 9 Business Coaching, prides herself on being mentally flexible: “I accept that I do not know everything and so I practice what I preach and partner with experts who help me achieve my goals.” In her keynote address to HSBC, Robyn said the same: “Never be afraid to get a look under the bonnet to see from the other side, surround yourself with great people and never be afraid to let them change the way you instinctively think!”
6. Put your health first
Although looking after your health can seem like just another item to add to the to-do list, the rewards you’ll gain from investing in your wellbeing will pay impressive dividends! A keen golfer and health and fitness enthusiast, Robyn believes her winning mentality and self-discipline in all areas has been key to her success. “I keep myself fit and healthy, I follow a disciplined regime of eating and exercise so I am never short of positive energy!”
Whether your passion is in sales, law, education or any other of the multiple industries where women are now scaling the ladder, the message from those who have already done it is clear: network with likeminded individuals, let others teach you, stay determined and the world can be your oyster! As a business with a 50% female senior management team and a constantly increasing clientele, we’re living proof that it can be done.