Today my entrepreneurial guest is Suzanne Doyle-Morris, with whom I worked in 2007/8, since which time I have followed her career with great interest and not a little pride. I will allow Suzanne to introduce herself:
I’m Suzanne Doyle-Morris. I founded Female Breadwinners five years ago for women working in male dominated fields. In 2013 I spun out a new company, the InclusIQ Institute to essentially work with their managers – bosses who recognise the future belongs to those with a more inclusive leadership style. I’ve lived and worked in Australia, the US, Ireland, England and Scotland. I’m always up for an adventure, but you can probably tell I’m limited to English speaking countries.
And your business?
I’ll focus on my newest venture that is growing rapidly. The InclusIQ Institute makes diversity an integral part of everyday leadership. We believe aiming for a perfect balance of diverse skills and perspectives creates more engaged and enjoyable teams. We provide inclusive leadership solutions designed to rewire inbuilt biases for a fairer, smarter and more competitive workplace. We are particularly excited about the feedback we are getting on our InclusIQ Insights programme. We use video game technology in e-learning to help managers think through how they can minimise unconscious bias and handle potentially tricky conversations better. My staff are primarily remote workers and we anticipate growing our employee base significantly in 2014 to keep up with demand. Our ambition is to get people to think of Diversity and Inclusion e-learning as engaging and even fun. Tall order, I know!
What tips would you share with other, mainly female, business owners on the same path?
- Hire people before you think you can afford them – the sooner you can start delegating, the faster you can grow.
- Get comfortable with being 80% perfect – most people won’t even notice the 20% you think is missing.
- Build your business for eventual sale, even if you have no intention of selling it. It will force you to create more robust processes, think about scalability and besides, you never know what life is going to throw at you.
What did you struggle most with in your start-up phase and how did you resolve that?
Trusting others to do as good a job as I would. I had to get over myself. I had to open my eyes and see how much better they were at things I thought only I could do, but it’s still a struggle as I grow the team.
What have you learned about yourself while working solo?
That I am stronger, smarter and more business-focused than I thought I would be.
Did you choose self-employment or did it choose you? Any regrets?
I chose self-employment because my route in was a coaching qualification after I’d completed my PhD. At the time, there were no internal coaches, they all worked for themselves, so it felt like the default option. Now I can’t imagine working for anyone else!
Do you feel lonely or isolated when working for yourself? If so, how do you get your social needs met?
Loneliness is par for the course when you are heading up a company as the buck stops with you. I’m an extrovert, but I do enjoy my quiet time, hunkered down writing and reflecting. My priority has always been to join a Mastermind group or start one myself with other business owners from different backgrounds. Their objective view and lack of competition is refreshing.