In her teens and early working life, Suzy Jacobs, She Business Founder and CEO was very much a rebel without a cause. So it’s no great surprise that she, like so many other entrepreneurs who don’t ‘fit’ the system – especially the one she found herself working in at IBM at the start of her career, ended up working for herself.
However, once she learned to harness her rebelliousness and temper it with the wisdom that comes with age and having two children, it led her to begin her entrepreneurial journey – the spark of which was ignited in the oddest of places.
An ordinary everyday episode at the school gates listening to the mothers willingly accept their tired and aging bodies, inspired Suzy to show these women how to get back on the path to re-engaging with themselves and regaining their self-esteem.
Suzy returned to university, completed a degree in health sports science and founded Inform Fitness, a highly successful personal training studio in London that also delivered seminars on sports, health and fitness.
Almost four years on and She Business is a thriving membership organisation for women who want to build high growth businesses. Suzy plans for She Business to be a global movement that inspires women to ‘be extraordinary’ define their own success, take action, grab the tools they need and feel supported along the way. She Business creates a safe space for businesswomen to have robust discussions, share, collaborate and laugh along the way.
At the heart of who she is, is Suzy’s mantra – anything is possible if you take responsibility for who you are, deliver what you promise and make a difference where possible.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Spontaneous. Big Picture. Courageous.
What is your life motto? Act first, think Later.
Take opportunities, seize the moment and work out the plan as you go. It’s an intuitive way to work, go with your instinct and don’t get stopped by the ‘how’.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I’m 44 and I don’t think I ever thought of myself as “having a career” 20 odd years ago. I knew that I loved people and I wanted to work so I went out to experience the world. It wasn’t until later in my life, after I had children, when I had that moment of: I know what I want to do! So up until then it was just doing a bunch of things that I had an interest in.
How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? SO much and I still am (laughs). I’m very clear that I want to contribute something very different to this industry. I’ve dedicated myself to the process and continue to do so.
What are the challenges in your line of work? The networking environment is so populous because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to form your own network. My greatest challenge is getting the word out there that SHE Business was built on a very strong foundation of research, so it’s not a network where you come and exchange business cards; it’s not a referral network. We understand the core attributes of diversity and understand that in order to build high growth businesses women need to invest in themselves personal and professionally. Investing in ‘ourselves’ is not something that comes naturally to women for a whole lot of reasons.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I make mistakes everyday and I think that I look at every single day and analyse how that mistake happened. I work on the 1% rule, take care of the small mistakes daily, and the big picture stuff will take care of itself.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Keep your eyes on the prize; never lose sight of the real game. We live in a very distracting world and it’s easy to lose focus. Keep your eyes on the prize.
In your mind, is formal training essential? Look if I’m going to the doctor I certainly want someone who’s received a medical degree, but I think for me, apart from those areas which its required in order to operate (no pun intended) give me someone with the right attitude and the other skills can be developed. So I would say, yes in those professions but otherwise no. I’ll take attitude and emotional intelligence any day.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Yes however I think there are some problems in this area for business owners. In the corporate environment you go in as an employee and as you work your way up there are people above you, who are usually happy to mentor you. That same structure doesn’t exist in the business environment. If you own your own business you’re at the top of the tree, so who mentors you? For me a mentor is someone who is older wiser, has been there before and is prepared to guide and advise you. They are sharing their life experience with you. I haven’t found one of those yet.
What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? So I’ll speak from my experience first. I knew fully and completely that what I had to offer would be a valuable contribution to my market. I didn’t go out and do a whole bunch of market research, it was an intuitive decision and I wasn’t going to be stopped by anything or anyone.
To anyone starting a business, I would say look at your values. What’s important to you? Look at key areas such as financial security, family, personal development, order, sanity (laughs). For example if financial security is a value you hold strongly, you love having a weekly salary so you can budget and plan maybe owning your own business isn’t going to work. Truly look at your values.
What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? I have an incredibly supportive family, who when I’m at the bottom of the pit spur me on. I’m also highly motivated; I keep my eye on the prize, I have faith and belief in what I do. I’m also blessed to have talented and inspiring women in the SHE Business community.
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? With belief and determination luck is made. It is the culmination of grabbing opportunities throughout life and persistently, consistently staying focused as you fulfill your vision.
Check out Suzy’s ‘Strike a Pose for International Women’s Day’ on today