Helen Pethybridge worked in senior HR director roles for 13 years at global brands before she became the owner of a business coaching franchise venture. Here, she tells Business Advice how franchising helped her make the career change she’d been yearning for.
Having been made redundant by her then-employer Pepsico, she now runs an ActionCOACH – a business coaching franchise for new business owners, while maintaining a far healthier work-life balance than during her corporate days.
“It was clear that changes were coming at Pepsico,” she explained. “I wanted something different but I didn’t want to downgrade, as I’d always worked with ‘the best’.
“I’d always had the desire to one day run my own business but I had no clear idea of what kind of business. I thought about working in HR with SMEs, but when I looked at local HR businesses, it seemed they mainly concentrated on recruitment, contracts and legal issue whereas I was more interested in the strategic side.
“My research took me to the British Franchise Association’s (BFA) website. It hadn’t crossed my mind to buy a franchise but I decided to look at the options.
“I clicked through to business services franchises and found business coaching. I was immediately excited about this option, seeing that business coaching would give me the chance to be involved strategically much wider than just HR. I emailed for more information for all the business coaching franchise options.”
“Two franchise brochures came within 24 hours of each other. I was immediately attracted to the ActionCOACH brochure which was colourful with a diverse cross-section of people enjoying a range of group activities. It gave a greater sense of what I could expect from the team culture.
“I decided to take ActionCOACH through to due diligence stage as it showed potential for a greater income without topping out. At the end of January, I went to Las Vegas for ActionCOACH University.
“Ten days to totally immerse myself in the culture and training to set myself up as best I could. The calibre of the trainers was excellent and that has continued into all aspects of support I have received from the UK team.
“While I was training, ActionCOACH’s exclusive client generation centre was working to secure initial meetings with prospective clients and this is how I signed my first client.
“Whilst redundancy forces you to take stock of your life, it also provides a financial payout. This allowed me to take the time to develop my new business without feeling the pressure of delivering a salary immediately.
“Setting up your business is so time-consuming – even down to choosing the right printer. So, being part of a franchise that gives you over 3,500 strategies and tactics to help your clients and a wealth of ongoing professional development sessions really helps to get to grips with your business.
“I was most nervous about selling to secure new clients. I’m not sure if that is a female thing, that we’re not such strong self-promoters? However, ActionCOACH gave me the training to overcome this. I feel more comfortable promoting the ActionCOACH service than promoting just me, Helen.
“One of the suggestions during training was that we practice a client generation seminar on friends and family. I invited my old team from Pepsico to this dry run and their feedback was really positive.
“I signed my second client from my first public seminar and the following two clients came from the client generation centre. Each client has fortnightly one-to-one coaching and this generates a client income of nearly £5,000 a month.
“I have just started to run ActionCLUB, which will initially bring in £1,000 a month from group coaching. My goal is to take on another four clients by the end of my first year so that I reach £10,000 a month in client income. My long-term vision for the business is to have employed coaches and a business development manager.
“Before redundancy, I was the main breadwinner in the family. It felt good knowing that I could use this redundancy money as an investment opportunity to future-proof my career.
“I’m now in control of my destiny, where the speed of progression is my choice and it’s up to me to decide when I want to reduce my hours, when to retire and what work I choose to do.
“In my HR roles, I had made people redundant and they had often felt out of control and at the mercy of recruiters – choosing a franchise can change all that.
“Coming out of the corporate environment and into a franchise was like a halfway house compared to starting up on your own. The support and collaboration at ActionCOACH has been outstanding. I feel like I’ve got as many friends at work as I did in my corporate life. I’m an extrovert and I get energy from other people. As an Action Coach, I still get that interaction and energy from my fellow franchise owners.
“I’m married with two teenage boys. My husband travels with work, and having cut out my long commute to work every day I made two commitments to myself. I wanted to get to watch my sons in their rugby matches, and to take a horse riding lesson each week to improve my skills and enjoy something just for me.
“Redundancy forced a change, and ActionCOACH delivered a new beginning and new learnings.
Read on to find out why more women are making franchising their future
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