We all put a lot of emphasis on our technical skills, don't we? We have to have a degree in this, and a medal in that. Listening skills and general 'soft skills' are essential if you want to rise above the rest. And actually, they're are so important that you can think of them as entrepreneur's superpower! Anna realised her own superpower, and how to make the most of her listening abilities.
Hey Anna, Tell us a bit about yourself!
I'm a marketing consultant based in the lovely (but also very rainy!) Tavistock, Devon. I grew up here and then in my early 20’s I hot-footed it to London and worked in Westminster for a government minister and then in-house marketing at large accountancy firms. I came back 13 years later, just before my eldest son arrived. George is now six and I have another son, Billy who is three. Outside of work, my husband and I have just taken up paddle boarding – we don’t get out as much as we’d like to but we find it a great way to relax when we do.
Wow, that's a strong start! Talk to us about your business...
I set up my business in September 2018 and it’s based on the premise that by listening to your customers you’ll retain more business, attract new clients and get a greater return on your marketing investment. I offer client listening programmes that help businesses measure satisfaction levels, identify opportunities for future sales and asses the viability of new products or services.
Listening to your clients shows you value their opinion, and their custom, and demonstrates your commitment to delivering what they want and need (which is the basic premise of marketing!).
Listening is such a valuable skill and such a great asset to have! Where did the idea for your business come from?
When I worked at accountancy firm BDO, I was responsible for their ‘Exceptional Client Service’ agenda. I absolutely loved seeing and hearing feedback from clients about the great work our teams were delivering and the value they were adding. I was lucky enough to go on secondment to India to train the firm over there on the client service agenda which was amazing.
When I set up my business, I wanted to take the parts of my previous roles I enjoyed the most and apply them to businesses across a number of sectors which is why I focus on client listening.
What have been your biggest learning experiences since becoming a business owner?
That it’s not over until that contract is signed! I have been told that projects are going ahead and held on and on and then nothing…so don’t get excited too early.
Also, I have learned a lot about myself – I have more resilience and perseverance than I ever gave myself credit for and the hard work is really starting to pay off now.
If you could give one bit of advice to someone thinking of starting their own business, what would it be?
Stay in your own lane and don’t compare yourself to others. There is enough work out there for everyone so keep focussed on what you can offer.
What has your biggest success/accomplishment/achievement been since starting your business?
I think the fact that I’m still going despite Brexit uncertainty and Covid! It wasn’t an easy start and in all honesty, I’m only really getting going but it’s a great feeling to be paying myself each month, to have my little office and to receive positive feedback from my own clients.
Who inspires you?
My Mum who cares for my disabled Dad, volunteers for Oxfam and helps me out with my boys – she’s selflessness personified. Also Dr Edith Eger, the holocaust survivor and eminent psychologist who is so full of positivity and forgiveness, despite going through some atrocious experiences – her book ‘The Choice’ is amazing.
What book/article/podcast really gave you that OMG moment?
It’s an oldie but I love Dr Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of highly effective people’. It’s a great business and personal development book and my key takeaways were the importance of not giving too much energy to worrying about things you can’t control, that it’s important how your respond (rather than react) to things and also the importance of listening first – one of the core principles of my business!
➡️ You can find Anna:
Emma Downey | Founder, Women Who Do
Emma can be found glued to her laptop/kindle or embarking on her next favourite hobby. Avid cake-eater, Disney-superfan and passionate about female empowerment, Emma founded WWD in 2017. She's currently travelling around Europe in her converted camper van and eating far too many croissants. You can contact Emma: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with WWD