2. What is Mission Possible and what was the inspiration for starting it? Mission Possible is a company that inspires women to start up and grow businesses. I started it up following my success in becoming the first British woman to walk to the Magnetic North Pole. As a child I dreamed of being an adventurer but did not believe it was possible. Having reached the North Pole, I thought that my experiences could inspire other women to achieve things they too did not think were possible.
3. What are some of the trends you are noticing in your profession/industry? There is a huge amount of women-only support available now for those wishing to start up in business. However, at a government level it has become much more standardized, which I don’t think is a good thing – because women are not a homogenous group and face many different issues. Most of this support does not go much further than the early stages which then causes women to struggle later on with growth issues such as financing. Consideration needs to be given to helping women to build sustainable businesses.
4. Do you or have you participated in partnering/strategic alliances and if so, tell us about the experience (or give us one example, if many). We are huge fans of partnering! Our first women’s network was developed as a partnership with the local enterprise support agency. They provided the venue and refreshments, and we ran the meetings and did the marketing. It was a win-win because we referred members to use their services which met their targets and they referred people to our network which increased membership. It was a positive experience all round and we both ended up achieving Prowess Flagship Status (this is the leading UK standard for best practice in encouraging women’s enterprise).
5. Let’s talk about the community-based organizations your company supports. Which one(s) you work with and why you choose them. Mission Possible works in partnership with several organisations because both parties can gain so much. We recently launched a second women’s network with the University ofBath because they run a women’s enterprise programme and had no follow-on support, and we had a means of supporting women via the network but no venue. We only work with organisations that share our values and ethos about collaboration and helping each other.
6. Tell us about your book Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs – what was the inspiration for writing it? I decided to write this book because looking in the bookshops there were virtually no books about successful women entrepreneurs but loads about men such as Richard Branson from Virgin or Bill Gates. Research shows that role models are vital in encouraging start-up and I thought it was time to showcase more women as I knew they existed. So I picked out 10 women from across the UK who came from different backgrounds and ran businesses ranging from fruit smoothies to lingerie. All of them had been recognised as successful by winning business awards. My intention was that readers would identify with at least one of the women if I interviewed a diverse group of entrepreneurs. I wanted the book to be practical, so each profile is underpinned by my Seven Steps to Success™ framework which enables readers to cross refer from each entrepreneur’s experience and apply the learning to create their own action plan.
7. What’s next for you? Are there plans to write another book? At the moment we are developing a new service to support growing businesses and I am researching a book about women as the breadwinner in households. The responses I am getting from women are fascinating – it seems like both women and men are learning to cope with this new dynamic, which is not without its challenges! I am also the facilitator for the first UK Chapter of Women Presidents Organisation which is launching in February, so it is exciting to be the pioneer for this organisation in the UK.
8. Do you have a secret passion or obsession? If so, do tell! If I tell you – it won’t be a secret any more….but I would love to go to spy school and learn all that exciting stuff about intelligence and espionage…that’s what happens when you read too many crime books….
What else would you like readers to know about you? About your company? I love challenging myself to see what I am capable of achieving and then using these experiences to inspire others. Having represented Scotland in athletics and been on expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland, Geographical North Pole and Chile I know that fitness and focus are key components of success in both life and work. With my corporate training background I help business people draw analogies between the lessons I have learned and their particular issues and challenges.