Movers and Shakers | Dijonn Taylor Savvy Guest Ltd
Dijonn is the founder of Savvy Guest, a digital platform that partners with adult education services and the business community to enables adults to apply for pre-career conversations with company employees. It is positioned to improve adult career advice, capture rich data and measurable outcomes to help shape business strategy including; equality, diversity, and inclusion. Dijonn launched her business eight years ago.
What drove you to start your own business?
I founded Savvy Guest after noticing the lack of good advice for adults seeking relevant career tips, industry insights, and realistic expectations of job roles. I knew the business model had to be accessible to all demographics regionally with the potential for growth across the UK.
With little knowledge of the technology sector, I spent the next two years planning the mechanics of how the digital platform would operate. I was convinced the answer lay in creating a website with capabilities of bringing together; companies and individuals for pre-career conversations whilst incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and capturing valuable metrics.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I worked in the Travel and Tourism industry for 21 years, my first role was as a YTS trainee in a travel agent. (The YTS Scheme is what we now recognise as an apprenticeship.) I continued to progress in the industry to senior management and went on to become a Travel Trainer for the Training and Enterprise Council (TEC).
I was headhunted for the position of Service Delivery Manager for a charity Partners of Prisoners and Family Support Service (POPS). Here, I learned skills in People Management and was able to implement NVQ training for staff and volunteers and lead on gaining Investors in People (IIP) standards for the charity. After leaving POPS I ran a Travel Franchise for 5 years before starting Savvy Guest.
Tell us about the business planning stage
I initially wrote a business plan which I could present to the bank for funding. I made contact with the Business Growth Hub and was given support by a financial adviser who helped me fine-tune it. I have used my business plan as a road map and have updated as the business has grown. Looking back at my projections, they were way off where I thought I would be. I guess when writing your first business plan it’s really difficult to have clear projections. You have no way of really knowing the rate your business will grow, in my personal experience, this became clearer in years 2/3.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I currently plan at least 2 years in advance and work on a monthly plan with realistic goals. At the end of each month, I tick off each goal achieved, if it hasn’t been achieved, I roll it over to the next month and start with that goal at the top of the list. It keeps me motivated to see small achievable targets completed and keeps me on track and focused on what I need to do.
Can you describe a typical working day?
My first hour of the day includes meditation and prayer being grateful for where I am in the present moment and what I have achieved no matter how small. Next, I read my emails and star the messages I need to give priority to that day. Consult my diary and check my ‘To Do Target List’ working through each one methodically ticking them off as I go. My typical day starts at 10am and finishes around 4pm with a lunch break and a couple of ‘re-charge’ breaks in the day of around 20 minutes. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing my ‘To Do Target’ list completed at the end of each day.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
Gaining my first contract with a local authority to use my services. It was a day I had dreamed of and was in my initial plan and strategy when starting my business. I have won many awards during the past eight years which I am extremely proud of; however, the confirmation and reality of signing this contract was the most amazing day and testament to my vision and hard work.
What has been your scariest moment?
With little knowledge of the technology sector, I spent two years planning the mechanics of how the business would operate. A lesson learnt was, always carry out due diligence and checks on your suppliers. I had merely trusted verbal recommendations which turned out to be a very costly mistake which ended up in a lengthy court case and a delay of starting my business.
How do you work on making your business grow?
I am always looking at new ways to increase participation in my business from different sectors. Paying attention to what’s currently lacking within my space and whether I could provide a solution to this. I ensure evaluation and feedback is an essential part of what we do to help us grow and make necessary changes if required.
We also offer added value services that show the impact our services are making. Growing my networks has been really important as new business has come through the connections I have made.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
The real challenge is having discipline, discipline to not turn on the TV in the morning! It’s so easy to get caught up in the morning news and that really can be a distraction. Use that time to meditate and pray to gain greater clarity for your working day. Get yourself focussed and arrive at your desk ready to work in a ‘professional work mode’.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
My role model in life has been my mother who instilled the values of honesty and integrity. In business, Oprah Winfrey was the first woman who inspired me and the first black businesswoman I saw and represented women who looked like me on TV.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business, and who was it from?
Oprah’s advice on the difference between a ‘career and a calling’ has been the most impactful piece of advice I can remember, she said;“your real job in life is to figure out what you are called to do, you use a job until you can figure out what the calling is. You are fuelled by the energy of your work; you know it’s right because it gives you your juice and you know its right because you will do it for nothing. You would do it for nothing and just find a way to be able to do it, in order to be able to continue. That’s how you know you are doing what you are supposed to be doing”
What are the three books, websites or resources that you would recommend to other business owners?
Oprah Winfrey – Super Soul Sundays
Olive Strachan – The Power of You
TD Jakes – Soar- Build your vision from the ground up.
Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Poor Dad
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I love traveling, I spend a couple of months away during the winter (when travel permits) I use this time to relax, switch off, rejuvenate and recharge!
Connect with Dijonn and Savvy Guest:
LinkedIn: Savvy Guest Ltd
Facebook: Savvy Guest