Lori West, Founder and CEO at Business Brilliance Professional Development Ltd

When did you set up your business and with what means?

I set up Business Brilliance in 2018 by reclaiming PPE funds to the tune of £10,000 and with the generosity of my husband, my most loyal and only investor to date. I would not allow angels or VCs to get their grubby little mitts on Business Brilliance. The work is too important!

Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?

Not always, but it became apparent to me that entrepreneurship was my path in the 1990s, when I felt an affinity with the Silicon Valley start-ups I was launching into the UK and Europe. I like to be master of my own destiny, so not long after starting my psychotherapy qualification in 2000, I jumped out of the employed-status ship and into the self employment dinghy. I have not looked back since. I prefer smaller, nippier boats anyway. 😆

What have been your biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I faced is knowing what to sell and how to sell it. As a therapist and a coach, there are lots of ways I can help people. The challenge is recognising what it is that the market wants and sometimes needs but doesn't know they want, and then positioning it in such a way that it occurs as an attractive-enough proposition that people want to buy what you're selling. It's a classic case of demand and supply. There are three key things I did that made a real difference:

  1. I listened intently
  2. I registered into a Harvard Business School Foundational MBA programme to better understand how to apply accounting and economic principles to the business
  3. I exercised patience with myself during the product development process

The final challenge I had to face was my own creative brain. I can see business opportunities EVERYWHERE, so I've had to learn how to focus on one thing and do it really well.

When did you join BAWE and why?

I joined BAWE in 2020 upon the recommendation of Giovanna. I love the community and the strength of the women in the community. We've got some real pioneers in the group! It's inspiring to hang out with a group of trailblazing women.

How has being a member of BAWE helped you?

As well as being a very supportive group, BAWE offers a safe space where I can test things and get honest, constructive feedback. I also love the collaborative element of the community. We help each other. I love that.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?

  1. Remember that what you think other people want or need might not be what they want or need at all. Listen to feedback from lots of different communities and assimilate your offering so that it meets a real need AND want.
  2. Learn accounting. Your business strategy will show up in the numbers, especially projections.
  3. Keep it simple. Sometimes less is more.
  4. Remember that what appears to be cost-effective in the short-term can actually be a headache and more costly in the long-term. It may make sense to absorb costs if it means you're more satisfied with the end product and you work more efficiently as a result.
  5. Plan, plan, plan and then plan again. And remember that plans change. They are supposed to! Plan the work to work the plan. It organises the chaos, helps you stay focused and it offers you peace of mind when you structure your ideas.

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