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Lloydette Bai-Marrow is the founding partner of Parametric Global Consulting. The business specialises in investigations, such as, fraud, corruption and other forms of white collar & economic crime. Lloydette explains her decision to move from working as a government lawyer to starting a business.
I always had a plan. With every job, there was at least a five-year plan with objectives, target promotions and a strategy for achieving all that I had set out to do. Building a business did not feature anywhere in my grand plan. I loved being a lawyer in the traditional sense and I was always on a steep learning curve.
I had no idea that being a Founder would be the hardest thing that I have ever done so far. It has also brought a richness and variety that I could never have imagined. In the five years so far, I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The type of high that makes you want to dance in the middle of the street (maybe that is just me!) and the kind of low that makes you want to slide under the bed covers and never come out. It is exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures.
I made the decision to leave my job as a government lawyer and build my investigations practice because the season was right. It was time to close the door on one season and open the doors to a new season. I had an idea that I wanted to explore and a very supportive husband who held the ship steady so that I could dive off the edge.
I will always rail against the concept of being “a boss babe” and the glamorisation of running a business and the holy grail of “being your own boss.” It isn’t easy and it is certainly not for everyone. There are many successful “intra-preneurs” who are thriving in the workplace. Being a Founder simply isn’t the only way. However, if you have decided that starting your own business is the next step, I am going to share five reflections from my journey so far that give you useful and actionable things to consider as you dive into the deep.
Five things to consider when building a business:
1. Know what you have to offer your clients – One of the biggest shocks when I transitioned to being a Founder was my inability to articulate clearly and coherently what I have to offer potential clients. Just saying “I am lawyer” was not going to cut it and met with the typical response of “ok…so what do you have to offer?” It took about 18 months of understanding the market, trial and error and research to understand how my skills and expertise address the pain points of my target clients. The next challenge was the articulation of my offering. It is essential to communicate your offering in a brief, impactful and effective way. Whilst the detail is important, ensure that your elevator pitch captures the attention of the listener and communicates the main elements of your offering.
2. Always operate in your area of genius – A friend told me this and it is a lesson that I have had to learn the hard way, several times! Take time to know what you are very good at and where you can best operate at a level of excellence. This doesn’t mean that you are not open to new opportunities that may present themselves. However, you will be able to assess every opportunity that presents itself through the prism of your area of genius and your strategic objectives for your business. If an opportunity does not align, then give yourself permission to say “no thank you” and manage the relationship for future opportunities that will work for you.
3. Be grateful – I have found being a Founder to be a continual test of my emotional resilience. There can be perpetual motion when building a business as you ruthlessly focus on building your pipeline of clients. Take moments to appreciate the journey, to be thankful for the small things and the big wins. Gratitude is a mindset and should be a daily practice to maintain momentum. Weariness can descend suddenly and heavily, immobilising you. Being grateful for today and for the victories of yesterday can help to shift the feeling of weariness.
4. Build relationships – We know that people buy from people. Business is all about relationships and trust. Your target clients need to know you or at least know about you. Social media is one part of your branding strategy, but you will need to go beyond the comfort/confines of social media platforms. Seek to build networks and relationships in ways that are authentic and genuine rather than solely for the purposes of selling.
5. What is your anchor? Write down WHY you are starting the journey as Founder and WHY you made the decision. Maybe write a letter to yourself. There are many occasions where you may find that you need to go back to your “why”. The WHY may change as your journey and business evolves. It will be the anchor that you need when tough times come along. It will help you to stay the course when the waters seem choppy and uncertain.
Parametric Global Consulting