Joy Langley is an Emotional Re-set Coach and Therapist and the founder of Catch a thought, a Buckingham based practise that offers CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), Counselling and Life Coaching techniques .
What drove you to start your own business?
Redundancy in 2012 was the tipping point for me to start my own business, up till that point I’d worked as a College Counsellor for 7 years.
I always dreamed of working for myself, but was always too frightened to take the leap. After all what did I know about the business process? My parents were first generation migrants from Jamaica and taught me to keep my head down, don’t rock the boat, do one thing well and get paid.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
My career path was totally erratic and unplanned. A good school education, university degree, then full-time employment. I never knew what I wanted to do so my job history found it’s own winding path – office jobs, admin jobs, self-employment in the music industry, then landing up in the helping profession.
Tell us about the business planning stage
I knew a lot about setting up businesses and running them …because I bought a business planning book every year! But of course I knew absolutely nothing. I’d been on courses, spoken to agencies, downloaded the relevant paperwork, and on the odd occasion filled them out. However it was never perfectly executed until I had sometime real to apply it to. So I know about cashflow charts, profit and loss statements business plans and mission statement etc …and I dip into the ones that are relevant, or get the information when I need it.
Agencies I found helpful were the Princes Trust (I think they still exist), local business enterprise agencies, specific agencies for people over 40 and my local bank had great booklets on how to set up your business with websites, CDs etc.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
In terms of planning I write a plan every year, but it’s now a ‘living business’ plan, It’s not full of stuffy words that only the queen would understand, my business plan is all about me – to motivate and inspire me to greatness. It’s like watching the best block-buster movie you’ve ever seen …it just happens to be about me! I’ve learned that it’s great to have short, medium and long-term plans, but that life goes where it wants to (trust in a higher power). So you have to be flexible and re-jig things, as none of us have total control, we have to cultivate faith and learn to be in the flow.
Can you describe a typical working day?
A typical day means setting out on the right foot. Sometimes it involves a little ritual where I light a candle and give thanks for my health, family, abilities and the path I am following, otherwise it’s straight into my to-do list. I’ve learnt that writing down a million and one things is not smart, it creates misery. Modern practices say have one or two things you absolutely have to achieve …and then the itsy bitsy items follow.
I have face to face clients, so my focus is ensuring my details in online directories are up to date, and that my mobile phone is fully charged (can’t miss a call!), that I check email three-four times a day, that my social media presence is maintained (website, LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter). I also schedule call-backs for new clients and also colleagues in the industry who I meet on social media or via networking mornings. Building a solid network of friends and associates is essential. They are your emotional support, cheerleading team and know-how.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
The most amazing day happens daily! I love connecting with people, to their energy, wants and desires. Being a human catalyst is a privileged position, and I respect my clients and my colleagues ‘lifeforce’ for what it teaches me about myself. I think projecting the number of clients I want per month and hitting that is always a wow! moment.
What has been your scariest moment?
Scary days happen, I’ve learned to live with them as there’s a message in there for me. The worst one happened recently where I slumped into a depression that lasted a week, this hadn’t happened for over 15 years, and it was all about money, cashflow, and fear and despair (not great feelings!). Sometimes it’s about slowing down, re-thinking, or just ‘being still’ and saying it’s OK to feel like this. I am the world biggest scaredy-cat, but I’ve also learned you can still be ‘courageous’ whilst feeling scared.
How do you work on making your business grow?
Trying to grow the business feels like chicken and egg. I know I have to re-invest in other people’s services & skills (hiring a VA for example) to remove the load from me, vs. the business not generating enough money to sustain that. I’ve had some lucky bursts of money! This has been invested wisely in building an infra-structure that will support an even bigger structure, I recently read that it should be empire-ready. But I know that my business attitude is what really makes the difference, and the knowledge and courage of knowing when to make a calculated risk (even if means using credit cards).
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
I really can do anything I want, any time I want. But that is also the biggest drawback! When someone pays you to do a job, with a clear job description, your day is pretty much mapped out. But when you work for yourself you have to develop a disciplined mind …and it’s a bit like having a dog on a long lead.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
Yes, the biggest challenge is staying relevant and of the moment and being an innovator. Plus being disciplined, updating your knowledge and skill set, and trying not to go stir-crazy due to the loneliness of the long-distance runner. I tackle this by having basic filing systems (and piles of paper on the floor!), tune into YouTube or purchase online courses and socialise for networking or training.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I admire business owners who are doing something they love and it shows! They do it with such a degree of honesty, creativity and quirkiness that no one else can duplicate it. They stick their necks out and make outlandish observations or statement about life, that in time become the norm. Oprah, Maya Angelou, Tyra Banks, President Obama, Les Brown, Richard Branson, Lord Alan Sugar etc
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
The best piece of advice came from someone I connected with on LinkedIn, I was struggling with social media and being all things to all men, and he simply said : Joy, my business is doing well and I have none of these, business continues with or without them. I think he was trying to say get back to basics, the ABC of running a business will never change.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
I have a bookshelf heaving with self-help books and business books, but I don’t read them! Scandalous. But the life changing ones have been Conversation with God (Neale Donald Walsh), 13 things mentally strong people don’t do (Amy Morrin), and the TED Talks on Youtube (pick any of them, you are bound to learn something amazing).
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
How do I relax? I would say I don’t, as I do what I love and that’s a 24-7 passion. I love researching my topics, looking for great people to connect with, and writing …that it never feels like work. But when I do create dedicated down-time, it’s the round of friends & family to stay grounded and laugh and chill, or doing some art on canvas, or craftwork such as crocheting or sewing.
Connect with Joy on Twitter.