Jennifer Bryan is the Managing Director of ABChange Consultancy and this week’s Woman in Business Interview

Jennifer provides thought leadership, coaching and consultancy services to businesses on leading people in continuous change.  Her company’s target audience are leaders in business who are having to lead and manage change, so the range of individuals is wide-reaching.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

I started my own business for a whole host of reasons but at the time primarily because I wanted to be able to impact as many people across a range of organisations, whilst also being able to be in full control of my workload, as I had a very young family at the time I started.  I am someone who likes to work with different people in different settings and I feel that being external to my client organisations, I am able to offer an insight and give key messages that individuals internally would struggle with, thus creating a value add for the client.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

Oh now that is a tough question but I think I would have to go back to the beginning.  When I finished my studies, I realised I did not want to work in the industry I had been studying and I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally.  So I temped for a while and got very lucky.  The Executive Director I was working for at the time, asked me if I would design a training course, based on my experience and knowledge from previous work.  I had never designed a course before, but I said yes anyway.  I then did some research and designed a course and it went really well – after which I knew what I wanted to do.  A whole new career was born from that for me and it was because of this one Executive Director of Systems Integration.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

I would say there are two because they are quite different:  one is getting my book published which a traditional publisher and the other is a programme with a client.  Both though because of the size of the positive impact they have made of people.  Lots of people seem to have found my book helpful, which was my intention from the start for writing it. Furthermore, the programme impacted 16,500, at the time, directly across the globe, and the impact I made was change it from a technology deployment to a real people learning journey, which made all the difference in the world.  

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The best advice I have received is to not be afraid to be yourself – your real self!  It is easy to try and be someone who you think others want and use what I would call the ‘work face’ but that does not really help anyone, in my opinion.  Each of us bring something different to the party and when we bring our full selves we add value that no one else could.

What is your relationship with social media

I am very active on LinkedIn because that is where I can influence, reach and help people in business a good deal.  I share articles that are published, insights and opinions, activities and engagements in which I am involved, celebrate success – particular other’s success, and in general keep in touch with my professional community.  I am a little involved on Instagram and dabble on X, but that is about it.

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

Direct contact – either through reaching our for a particular reason on LinkedIn or via a networking event.  My business is really me, so meeting me is key for people to feel confident I am someone who they can trust and obtain value.

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

Don’t be afraid to try new things.  I am not the most technical person, but I decided the best way to have and keep a website was to learn how to do it myself that way I could update at any time.  So, with the help of a critical friend and you tube, I managed to create my first website.  They may not be the most sophisticated, but I am proud of them. 

How has your routine changed since covid?  Before covid, I worked in a hybrid way as I would be on client site around 2-3 days a week and then work from home the rest of the week.  I now work predominately from home and occasionally go on site for special events, activities and meetings.  My business though has also changed slightly, which was planned, to be fair, long before covid.  I do more speaking engagements now than consultancy, whereas it use to be the other way around, so I think that is reflected in my work pattern.

What productivity tools do you use? 

I use Office obviously a great deal and most of the meeting outlets, as different clients prefer different ones.  I also rely on Google for storage and organising, as I need everything in one place so I can keep track of it all. I am in the process of learning Canva, as I think that is a more sophisticated tool than just ppt, but I don’t quite have the hang of it yet, but watch this space.

Are there any other resources/tools that have helped you run your business? 

Definitely – Wix for my websites has been a game changer.  I used to use a different platform that relied on Word Press and it was so clunky and difficult to make changes.  Moving to Wix makes it all so much easier – additing in pictures, videos, links and texts.  It is similar to ppt so it is super intuitive.  

How do you prepare for the next day? 

I am always looking at my calendar so I know what I am doing, with whom and when.  Then depending on the activity, I either reach out to attendees at an event beforehand to say hello, or prep some documents, or write down thoughts and questions for a meeting.  

What is the number one meeting you never miss (and why)?

I try to never miss a meeting as that is my business – meeting people to help them in change.  I also try to never miss an email and will read all of them.  I am a stickler for clearing out my inbox on a daily basis, as it becomes my ‘to do’ list, so I need to keep it clean.  If there are hundreds of emails, I find it too over-whelming and can’t keep track of what I need to do and who I need to meet up with.

What do you do for fun/relaxation? 

Lots of things – I love to dance (I use to be a dancer, predominately in ballet), so I go to a local class each week.  I also meet up with friends regularly – I am known as the social secretary.  I go for walks, typically weekly (but weather dependent to a degree) with a friend in the local nature reserves, shopping, spending time with family.  I also love to read and travel – preferably to a beach with cocktails.

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year? 

I have an number I am trying to hit in regards to revenue but the difference with that number this year is for the majority to be accomplished through speaking engagements and coaching, rather than consultancy.

You want to write another book on leading change.  My first book was really about launching my leading change model, ABChange model – which is named after my kids.  I have child A (Amelia) and child B (Blake) and they changed my world.  I gathered 24 case studies to show the good, the bad and the ugly on the use of the model in different organisational settings.  In that book, I also launched my development approach, the Holistic Approach; however I have developed that further and now include foresight tools which encompass the external, along with the internal influencing factors that help leaders really understand the change context and leadership requirements for their specific change.  So I want to share this with more insights I have gathered over the years on the nuance of leading people in continuous changing environments so they and their organisations are future fit and ready.

What is the number one book you recommend to our readers? And why? 

As I said earlier, I read a lot, so to narrow down things to one book is tough, but I think I would have to say the one I read that I felt really empowered by was Pat Mitchell’s “A Dangerous Woman.”  I gained so much energy from reading her book, even now, thinking about it, I feel more empowered.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

I think the last thing I would say is to not be afraid to voice your opinions and ask questions.  We as women, and I sometimes find myself doing this, will stay quite in a room, particularly when we less empowered than in others, and as a result, we end up not adding the full value we could into that situation.  Don’t get me wrong, silence can be very powerful as well, but is also can be very weakening – the key is to strike a balance, but we can only do that when we are not feeling fear or being afraid of the possibility.  Instead, we need to straighten our backs, relax our shoulders, breath and make a conscious decision on how we can really add value in the room.

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