Emily Coy, Business Doctor Chesterfield, explains how this new venture has helped showcase her real self
When did you become a Business Doctor?
I launched my franchise in August 2019, so I had approximately six months of normality before COVID-19 hit. It was a busy time for me though, because, in November, I found myself a candidate in the General Election, having only become a councillor in Chesterfield in May! I love that being a Business Doctor gives me the flexibility to have many strings to my bow. I am also a trustee of a local charity for the homeless. Buying a franchise has allowed me to develop so much more of myself. I turn 40 this year and finally know who I am and that I am on the right path.
What did you do previously?
I was a Business Studies major at university and then became an accountant. Though numbers are important for business, I always felt my people and strategic skills were underused in my previous role. I found myself cautioned for spending too much time ‘relationship building’ when in my mind that is what business is all about. Although glad to turn my back on accountancy, my understanding of ‘the numbers bit’ has actually stood me in very good stead as a Business Doctor.
Why did you decide to buy a franchise?
Despite wanting to become self-employed, I knew I liked being a part of something. The collaborative nature of the Business Doctors’ network really appealed to me.
Buying a franchise is less risky than setting up on your own. It has given me the freedom and autonomy of self-employment, but someone has my back!
I don’t see the point in starting from scratch, designing logos and working on expensive branding when someone else has already done it. From my first meeting with Business Doctors’ co-franchisors Rod and Matt, I knew that our values were aligned and that I believed in their approach to SME support. I didn’t even look at any other options as I knew Business Doctors was right for me.
What do you enjoy most about being a Business Doctor?
I am finding helping people with their business problems very satisfying. The work draws on so many more of my skills than my previous role. Although it is only relatively early days, I already feel I am making a difference to SME owners. I spent 15 years trying to fit in as an accountant, hiding the real me; now I can be my enthusiastic, smiley self as a Business Doctor. I feel liberated.
I look forward to each meeting and find myself thinking about my clients’ business issues in my spare time - in a good way! It means my brain is happy and engaged. The Business Doctors all learn so much from each other; we all have different backgrounds and different perspectives and that is what makes the network so valuable. In my previous profession, there was so little interaction. I used to turn up each day and just slog through it. Now my work gives me a buzz.
Everyone has choices in life and I chose to make the jump. It was terrifying, but it has been so worth it.
What have you learned since becoming a Business Doctor?
Well, obviously, having a pandemic in your first year of trading knocks you for six! I’ve quickly become a pro at online networking. It’s currently the only way to get out there and build up your network. But fortunately, I like interacting with people and hearing about their businesses. The clients are definitely still out there, you just have to go and find them.
Online networking requires a higher level of energy than face-to-face. You really have to work hard to put your enthusiasm across on the screen. Being well put together helps me to feel professional and to convey that I have everything under control.
I think we have all learned lots about interacting over Zoom since the start of the pandemic. People are generally now better at taking turns to speak and dealing with potentially awkward silences.
What qualities make you an effective Business Doctor?
Empathy, listening, relating and understanding. Interestingly my accountancy skillset is of more importance than I thought. I wanted to forget that I used to be an accountant, but it turns out it was a great starting point.
In partnership with two of my Business Doctors colleagues, I recently developed an online course for small business owners, called Parlez-Vous Accounting? It’s a crash course in the basics, empowering people to have a decent conversation with their accountant, without becoming flummoxed.
Have you found anything particularly challenging?
During training, I was encouraged to speak up more about myself. It was not something that came naturally, but gradually I am finding it easier. I would say I suffered from imposter syndrome in the early days, but some mentoring from one of the regional directors has really helped me to find my authentic self and to be more confident in talking about my abilities.
When I was an accountant, I learned not to discuss being a local councillor, as it was perceived as a distraction and conflict in my workplace. As a Business Doctor, I understand that the skills, contacts and broader understanding I gain in politics make me better able to support small businesses.