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Former corporate exec is proud to now be helping local business owners

Former corporate exec is proud to now be helping local business owners

As an ActionCOACH franchise partner, Billy Smith is putting his expertise to good use

Just eight months since launching his ActionCOACH business, Billy Smith is relishing the opportunity to be a community hero during a time of extreme need in the business world. Along with his wife, Fiona, and Kaley Hood as business support, he can reap the rewards of choosing to be his own boss.

“My franchise has had an overwhelming impact on my sense of satisfaction,” Billy says. “The work we do to improve businesses makes a huge difference to people on a personal level, which then impacts staff, their families and the community at large - to experience the fulfilment from that is like nothing I’ve felt before.”

Billy has eclipsed his corporate income level, but far more meaningfully, he’s already working with 12 business owners in Cheltenham on a one-to-one basis to help them navigate their way safely through this COVID-19 crisis.

Billy plans to add easily affordable ActionCOACH programmes such as BookCLUB and GrowthCLUB to extend the reach of his business and life changing work.

Finding the right franchise

Before ActionCOACH, Billy always had a passion for helping people - whether it was working individually with employees or in management teams. For over 20 years, he worked extensively with various members within the teams of large corporates, proving pivotal in their development.

“Over time, I witnessed the extent that larger companies command power and influence, giving them many more opportunities than smaller businesses,” Billy says. “I began to wonder how I could help small and medium-sized enterprises harness that same power and influence - I actually look back on that as a sort of epiphany.”

In December 2018, Billy discovered ActionCOACH on a franchise website and realised, much to his surprise, it was the solution to helping smaller businesses benefit from big business thinking. He booked onto the next discovery day to meet UK co-founder, Ian Christelow, and find out more.

“I’d never really had the chance to work with and develop SMEs before and ActionCOACH opened up that opportunity for me,” Billy says. “What’s more, after living in Cheltenham for over 20 years, by becoming an Action Coach I could put my expertise to good use and support my local business community.

“After that, I did my due diligence as I knew how important it was to help me make my decision. I met with various franchise partners who were at different stages of their journeys and, I’ve got to admit, the more I looked the more it seemed perfect for me. Very soon it became clear that it was a no-brainer to invest in an ActionCOACH franchise.”

Ready for action

“Despite the fact I’ve got over 20 years’ experience of corporate life, the level of detail included in ActionCOACH’s initial training was amazing. I already had an established skill set, including sales, marketing and business development, but the training equipped me with additional skills to cover other disciplines needed for running the business day-to-day.

“Once I arrived home, I was ready to put everything into action. I felt so inspired by the whole support team and fellow franchise partners - I was raring to go.”

Billy set targets for year one, aiming to get 21 clients. With the support of Fiona as operations director, and Kaley, the firm started to gain traction and see results quite quickly. When the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into panic mode, Billy took it as an opportunity for him rather than a threat.

Supporting the community

“I felt extremely lucky to be in a position where I could help local businesses survive and, potentially, thrive,” he says. “Everyone was panicking, not sure of how to move forward, and that’s when I stepped in.

“All my coaching moved online and I supported my clients virtually. Some of them required help to deal with the acceleration of their business, others needed support with how to best utilise their downtime - I was confident I could help them all.

“The UK support team was incredible during this time too, constantly updating me on best practice, ways to approach new clients and how to retain existing ones. It’s funny because Ian had mentioned how ActionCOACH grew in the 2008 recession and, although it was great to be proven true with this latest crisis, I didn’t expect to be challenged so soon into my ActionCOACH business.

“Speaking with other franchise partners, they all expressed the same gratitude towards the team as I had. They were instrumental in keeping our businesses going and, in turn, helping our clients to keep going too. In fact, during lockdown I had my best month so far, signing five clients.

“In the short term, I’ve got plans to recruit an employee coach in October, with another two in 2021. With Kaley’s hard work converting enquiries and Fiona’s ability to keep things on track, we’ve established a great team, which I’m looking forward to welcoming new members into.

“In the next five years, I want to bring a general manager in to run the business. I wouldn’t be able to step away from the business entirely though, I love what I do too much!”

Building a better lifestyle

Billy has established an enviable work-life balance, which is a far cry from his previous career.

Gone are the days when he would spend his time commuting, flying abroad and staying away from home for long periods of time, as he can now declare his weekends a strictly work-free zone.

“In my spare time, I play football for the over-35s and tennis in the over- 50s team,” Billy says. “I used to play competitively, but now it’s purely to keep me occupied during my downtime.

“And that’s only been made possible by ActionCOACH and their support in getting my business up and running quickly and efficiently. The freedom that comes with being my own boss and being able to reap the benefits of my work entirely exceeds any sense of career satisfaction I’ve had before.”

At a glance ActionCOACH


1993 in Australia. 2001 in UK

Number of franchised outlets:

200-plus in the UK

Location of units:


Investment range:


Minimum required capital:



If you want to build a business that allows you to give back to your local business community and you’re the kind of person who:
A. Loves learning and developing yourself;
B. Has enjoyed success in your career or sport; and
C. Is willing to invest if they see substantial returns can be made…
Then find out more by watching the overview video at overview

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