1. Explain what you do/your company does in 15 seconds
We’re a garden design and maintenance company, based in Oxford. You can find out more at http://oxfordgardendesign.co.uk/
2. What made you decide to join F12? What were you looking for?
I was already in the Business Wealth Club and what I really liked about it was that immediately I was in a room full of very positive, like-minded people. The support that you get in BWC was better than any other networking group that I’d ever been to. Instantly I knew that this was a different group so after a few months I realised that in order to grow the business I really needed extra support and Paul was starting up this mastermind group, F12 and so I was one of the first people to join it. Growing a business is a very difficult journey. Things go wrong and to be able to get support from the other F12 drivers who are going through the same sort of things and of course Paul is invaluable. Paul is always there with very sensible advice; I couldn’t have done it without Paul and the F12 group.
3. What were the 3 biggest challenges in your business prior to joining F12?
The 3 biggest challenges for me before joining F12 were recruitment, marketing and my time. The biggest issue of all was actually me and my time. I was trying to do too many things and I was wearing too many hats.
4. What specifically has changed in your business or yourself as a result of F12?
The biggest change is the change in me. I’ve got far greater vision and I now know that goal setting which was only theoretical for me before is actually perfectly achievable. I’m setting myself big goals; they’re challenging but I know I’ll get there. Paul asked us to think about our businesses being 10 times bigger at our very first session of F12. He asked us to think about what our business would look like when it was 10 times bigger and that’s exactly what I did. Now I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be 10 times bigger by the middle of next year when we should have got there.
5. How would you describe the group to non-members (who may never have experienced something like this before)?
I think of the group like a safety belt. You tend to think that you’re the only one going through things; it’s all unique to you or your industry. Actually it’s not and what you tend to find from spending time with the other F12 people is that although they’re all in different businesses that you have an awful lot in common. It’s really very helpful to have insights from various different points of view.
6. How does F12 differ to networking clubs or breakfast club type group?
One difference is that anything shared at F12 is confidential. Whatever you say within those walls isn’t supposed to go any further. The rapport and trust that grows between individuals is far greater than you can achieve within a larger group. That’s the main difference, plus the powerful hot seats?
7. What have been the 3 biggest breakthroughs/a-ha moments since joining F12?
There are too many to list them all!! The biggest one for me was that I had to realise that I couldn’t do everything myself and that I had to delegate. Now I delegate everything; there’s hardly anything I do myself and it’s been liberating. The second biggest thing was that I realised that the block to business growth was actually me. F12 just gave me the confidence to trust my instincts and to go with it. There were some things that were very obvious looking from outside of the business. We all get to know each other’s businesses very well. We all analyse each other’s businesses and the rest of the group could see things that were going wrong. Really it was blindingly obvious but I couldn’t see it because I was too involved in it. The F12 group more or less told me what was wrong. For example I had a team member that wasn’t cooperating with the others and he needed to go but I liked him and I didn’t want to deal with it. The F12 group pointed out the obvious and I couldn’t have dealt with it without their support.
8. How would you sum up the tangible benefits to you/your business since joining F12?
Tangible benefits are the turnover which is up by 400%, the fact that we took on 10 people last year and are now looking for two more and a General Manager. By the end of this year that will be at least 14. We are growing very rapidly and have grown very rapidly in the last year. Another huge tangible benefit is that the business just gets on and runs without me; I can just go on holiday and we are still making money when I’m away. That simply wouldn’t have happened two years ago. These are just a few of the reasons I’m back on F12 for my 3rd year.
9. How would you sum up the intangible benefits to you/your business since joining F12?
One definite intangible benefit is that I’m far less stressed because I’ve got a team and I delegate everything. Anything that I don’t need to do gets delegated. Even last year I was doing everything; trying to organise all the different teams, working out who was going where on what day. It was very difficult keeping on top of everything and now that’s all changed. It’s definitely thanks to Paul’s advice just before Christmas. I was feeling an incredible amount of tension. It was low level tension as I have a fairly laid back personality but it was always there as a constant feeling that I had got so much to do. Paul told me that I needed a PA to take all that away from me and he was right, I did it and it was obvious. Now I have a PA and it’s been brilliant, absolutely brilliant. That’s a definite intangible benefit; it’s that stress that I don’t feel anymore.
10. What value do you feel Paul brings to the Mastermind?
The value that Paul brings to the group is a very specific thing. Paul’s got amazing insight. When we met just before Christmas he went straight to the hub of the problem of my business which was the fact that I just had to have a PA and that the business wasn’t going to grow until that happened. It hadn’t been an ideal time for us to meet. Paul was going off to a Christmas play and I had something to do as well but at the end of the hour and 30 minute meeting the real problem had emerged. I hadn’t felt I could justify having a PA. However Paul said that he’d had a really strong feeling inside him that he needed to see me before Christmas and that was why and it was true. After talking to Paul I was able to get the ball rolling and then Beth came on board as my PA and it all happened before Christmas. It was a great relief. He’s got pretty good instinct and intuition I would say. He’s a very caring person too. He is genuinely really concerned for people.
11. Some might perceive F12 as being a significant expense – What would you say to that?
I think it’s a complete no brainer. There is absolutely no doubt that you should make the money back by improving your business. The question just isn’t at all relevant.
12. What would be your message to entrepreneurs considering joining F12?
I think that Paul is a very good coach. He’s a complete expert in his field and his advice is very accurate and very insightful. It’s been so valuable to me that I count it as the number one reason for my business success. It really has been a great support to me. So that would be my advice; if you want to grow a business, you’ve got to have a coach and Paul is a very good one.
13. What is the one thing you would share (or have shared) with the F12 Group which you believe is the most useful piece of advice you have given/could give?
My changed mind-set has been a vital ingredient in the success of my business. I’m much more confident, far more decisive and much more organised not just in business but in life in general. I now run my life like I want it to be; it doesn’t depend on external circumstances anymore which it always used to and that’s huge.