‘Your Stories’ often features women who have accomplished amazing things, either in starting or running their own business. But occasionally we are lucky enough to interview ‘women of accomplishment’ who have been successfully running their enterprises for many years; in this case owning and selling multiple enterprises for the past 24 years.
Today we ‘star profile’ Jo Haigh. Jo is a partner in fds Corporate Finance Services, with bases in London, Birmingham and Yorkshire, and a partner in the fds Group, a specialist training and development business.
An experienced dealmaker, Jo specialises in putting together the right deal at the right time and in the right format for growing businesses throughout the country. She has bought and sold over 300 companies in the last 20 years, specialising in owner managed companies.
So, let’s hear about Jo’s amazing journey.
1. What drove you to start your own business? What was the turning point?
I had 4 children and mistakenly thought I would have more time working for myself, of course that’s not true but what you do have is control over your time. I also realised I would never get wealthy working for someone else. I had made a lot of people multi-millionaires and wanted to have a go myself.
2. Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I admire my mother, who sadly I lost when I was 16. She had taken over her father’s sheet metal business and ran this very male oriented company in the 60s and 70s when such a thing was unheard of.
3. What are your goals for your business?
After so many years, I want to give back more than I get. In the last year I’ve taken on 2 apprentices on the ‘back to work scheme.’ This has been the best thing I have ever done. I have seen these people literally change before my eyes. I’ve loved every moment of nurturing them and now want to raise money for those so-called no-hopers, who really can achieve, but have always been told they can’t. This is my charity project for 2013.
4. What would you do differently next time around?
Regrets, I have a few but all too few to remember, as the famous lyrics go. Looking back gives you nothing, after all what can you do about history? The only thing that matters is the future, that’s all I am interested in.
5. What difficulties and challenges have you had to overcome and how did you keep going?
No money, no time, always guiltily in the wrong place, i.e. should have been at a carol concert but was in a board meeting etc. etc. You keep going because you have to, you have mouths to feed, your own family and all those families that work for you and rely on you and because it all comes right in the end. If it isn’t right now, that’s because it’s not the end!
6. What legacy would you like your business to leave to the world and your family/friends?
Give back more than you expect to receive, the pleasure is worth 1000 fold of the other way round. Be kind, work hard, stay positive. Find a positive in every negative. Get rid of the detractors in your life and your business.
7. What support did you seek out and what difference has that made to your business?
My children have always been so proud of me, as have all my family through thick and thin. I have fantastic close friends, just a handful, but that’s all you need. I have always looked after myself, had my hair and nails done and bought the best clothes I could afford; it’s given me the confidence to continue. I have always paid for good home care, from full times nannies to house keepers and gardeners, even when that meant I took nothing out of the business – that way ‘I could do what I do.’
8. How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I plan, plan and plan. I have lists of lists of lists, note pads in my car, by the bed, in my beach-side reading. I have 100,000 ideas and am a great delegator (if a bit of a control freak) but I don’t have a target, that always moves – always changes.
9. What has been the one big success that you have achieved in your business?
I am a bestselling author of 4 books, 5th just finished and 6th been commissioned. I have won numerous awards (please see Jo’s profile for details) but mostly I have provided a great home and education and done all I could for my family.
10. What does success look like to you now?
I never think of myself as successful, as for me it’s never over. There is always something else to work for. I want to start my charity and also plan to open a galley for aspiring artists in Wakefield called ‘Epiphany’ and that’s just next week!!
11. What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business?
Keep going when others tire out, stamina and determination beat brains and balls every day!
12. What are your top 3 tips for someone who would like to start a business now?
Do it, do it, do it.
13. What are 3 books, websites or resources that you would recommend to other business owners?
Although I write business books I am not a great reader of them (it’s that time issue!!) rather than books, get a mentor or a NED, they will change your business.