Dare to succeed – clarify the mission

One of the best speakers at our Cranfield EMBA Capstone Conference was John McFarlane, chairman of Aviva (and other companies).

Here are some of my notes from what he said:

Set a personal mission statement – where do you want to end up? This sets the direction. Lock on to what you want – that is the real you. What do you want? What do you have? Then set goals with timelines. Do the things that are relevant to what you want – and nothing that isn’t relevant.

Risk takers set a mission beyond what they themselves know how to do. Do not allow the vision to be restricted by what you know how to do. There has to be no escape route for you – are you fully committed or only partially committed? If you have low confidence – be cautious. It may not be the right thing for you. Investigate the reasons why your confidence is low.

You learn more from failures than successes. Accept failure, learn the lesson and move on.

Strategy is managing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Take inspiration from wherever you see it – don’t hunt for it in big leaders.

Don’t make life about the business – family is MORE important.


The sun is rising over Cranfield this morning – and the rain is ice cold…

I was struck as I drove in for my final time how the dawn was breaking with the bright hope of a new day and yet when I opened the car door, the rain was ice cold. A perfect analogy for my 2 years spent here. The rain represents a time of blood, sweat and lots of tears. Time of self-doubt, confusion, no confidence, no sleep and the exhaustion of trying to get it all done. The efforts to work with and even lead teams here and the slow, painful journey of personal growth. The sun? Today I am confident enough to tackle any task, work with any person and handle the toughest of situations. I have learned so much about myself and others. Was it worth 2 years of my life and somewhere between £30,000 and 50,000? Yes, every painful, exciting, tear-filled and amusing minute and every hard-earned penny.

So we start 2 days of reflection and fun and then this mammoth journey is over. What does the future hold? I’m not sure exactly but what I can tell you is that I’ll never be “just a freelance translator” again. The fact is I never was “just” anything and there is still plenty of future to grab hold of and enjoy.

Is work everything? No, certainly not but it makes up a huge part of our lives since most of us still need to earn a living. Each of us has a dream, a goal, a God-given purpose and although translating has been a huge part of that over the past 13 years, the time has now come to move on. The future for me will be much less isolated, be filled with people – whilst still giving me enough time alone so that I can dream my dreams and set the plans in motion to make them a reality.

So here’s to the future – onwards and upwards…


To grow or not to grow? The challenges faced by the heroines of microbusiness

This starts a short series on the findings of my final MBA research project. This first one is mainly for the more academically minded.

 As a result of the importance of micro-businesses, entrepreneurship and business growth to economic recovery in the UK and beyond after the recent recession, the paper researches the factors that influence women micro-business owners when deciding whether to grow their businesses. It argues that business growth is a function of the level and intensity of focus that owners are able to bring to their businesses. The findings indicate that this in turn is influenced by five factors:

–          The identity of the business owner and their identification with the business (to what extent is the business integral to who you are?),

–          Their own perception of their skill level (not “do you have what it takes?” but rather “do you know how to resolve the fact that you don’t have everything it takes?”),

–          The involvement of a partner in the business (are you doing this alone or are there two of you?),

–          The level to which they have integrated the various roles in their lives (have you merged the business into your whole life or are you juggling the various roles you undertake, e.g. parent/carer/…?) and

–          The owner’s attitude to growth (is growth a good thing? Or, when you take a good, hard, honest look, would not growing actually be easier for you right now?)

 The research recommends that business owners reflect on the issues stated above in order to ascertain the potential for growth. In conclusion, it states the limitations of the project and proposes potential subjects for future research.