Small Business Stories with Claire Sweet
laire Sweet is an award-winning Financial Advisor and Money Coach, Owner of Peace Together Money Coaching. Her work has been featured in The Telegraph, Moneywise and Sheerluxe, and she is a regular guest on BBC Radio Kent as an expert in her field.
What Does a Money Coach Do?
Claire begins by talking about the kind of work she does and how she decided to step into her own business after many years of corporate experience at Boots.
“I’m a financial advisor and money coach. What I do is help clients, predominantly women, organize their finances and create a plan that lets their money work well for now and well for their future. You’ve got to strike some element of balance. None of us knows how life will turn out, how long we’ve got, and what we’re going to do.
This last year has really shown us that. It’s essential that, although you make some plans for the future, you have a quality of life now. So I’m all about balance and making sure that your money is doing what it needs to do, but not by squirrelling away every penny and ending up living on the economy of baked beans by candlelight, but leaving some money for the fun things in life along the way.”
Claire has been in the business for 14 years, and she shares how she’s made the transition from her previous job role.
“I was working three days a week for Boots,” she continues, “and then three days a week in my own business. Being in a catch 22 situation where I couldn’t put enough hours in my business to make enough money to leave the day job, and I was going round and round in circles until 2009, where I made a massive jump into it. I did that because it was the year that my mom passed away, and she was only 59. She was one of these people who had worked hard her whole working life, and she always said, well, when I retire, I’m going to do this, and when I retire, I’m going to do that. And she never got there. So I thought you know what? Life is short. And I did step up, and I jumped in full time, and my business has grown from the ground up to where I find myself today, which is running a six-figure business with three members of staff. I love the impact I can have on people.”
The Adaptation Mindset
When asked how her business went in 2020 due to the pandemic, Claire explains she needed to adapt like everyone else.
“In terms of a successful business, the biggest thing that I would ever say to anybody is, you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. You don’t want all of your money coming from one particular part of your business, one particular client because if that client walks away, for no fault of anything you’ve done, you can be completely scuppered. For me, the business has been great these last 12 months, and it’s been growing year on year. Some of that has to do with mindset.
You see posts online that say things like ‘I refuse to participate in a recession.’
I’m a great believer in being positive in life and always going to be good times or bad times. It’s how you look at it rather than anything else. The other part is about taking action and adapting as you need to, making sure that what you’re offering is still relevant to the audience you have. I was already using a lot of the technology before this hit. When you run a business, you’ve always got to keep your eyes open for what’s going on in the world around you. I’m not a believer in competition because I think what everybody does is unique in their own way, and there’s enough work out in the world for everybody; there’s no need to be precious over it. But that being said, you need to be aware of what’s going on and what people are looking for, and how you can help them.”
Four Day Workweek
Claire Sweet has come to the point where she decided to have a four-day workweek, and she explains how she managed to maintain it as a practice.
“I haven’t worked Fridays for about a year and a half. Our working week in the office is Monday to Thursday. I use Fridays for personal development, and I might use that time to work on my business rather than work in my business. Sometimes I will be doing social media, or I might be recording videos for my YouTube channel. At the moment, I’m in the process of writing a book. When we’re not in lockdown, that’s also the day that I can use to have coffee with a friend or go and get my hair done or do some stuff that is for me.
As a busy working parent, it’s straightforward to get caught up in this, go to work, work hard all day, and then come home. Everybody wants a bit of you, your husband wants a bit, the kids want a bit, you’ve got dinner to do, you’ve got pets jumping on you, and you want people to let you sit down for 10 minutes with a book and a cup of tea. Fridays give me that.”
The Challenge of Becoming a Business Owner
Transitioning from business worker to business owner is one of the biggest challenges that anyone who has started working for themselves needs to face. Claire Sweet is not an exception to this.
“The biggest challenge comes from stepping out of business to become a business owner rather than a business worker. There is a brilliant book called “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber, where he talks about the worker, the manager, and the entrepreneur, and you need to balance all three of those in your business. Many people leave a corporate job to start their own business, but actually, all they do is create themselves a self-employed job where they’re the boss, and their boss, to be fair, is not necessarily the nicest person you should work with for.
Most people say to you; I bet being a self-employed person means you can take a holiday whenever you want, and you can work the hours you want. It does, but in practice, it tends to go the other way. Most self-employed people work more hours than they ever did in a corporate role, and they take less holiday than they ever did because they’re excited, and they want to grow their business and do their stuff. So I think that the biggest challenge is taking that step back and looking strategically at what I want my business to be? And how do I want it to work?”
Claire Sweet concludes by sharing a simple piece of advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business.
“Do the best business you can that serves and helps people in the best possible way you can, and the money will follow. If you go into business to make money, you will fall flat on your face; you go into business to help people. Yeah, and if you’re doing it right, you will build a successful business, and people will come to you.”
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