Spells working in the hospitality, food and construction industries have taken Lindsey Burden on a journey around the world and even an encounter with Grace Jones! Now, as the Owner of her own coaching consultancy, Lindsey took some time to reflect upon her journey so far in this excellent interview.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I'm 53-years young, so it's a long story. I've worked in pubs and hotels, packed frozen fish in New Zealand and hired out jet-skis in Australia. I've worked in the voluntary sector, for local government and in not-for-profit and commercial arenas.
I sold hydraulic hose assemblies in my early twenties, and then much later and after travelling Australasia and America for almost three years, I worked in construction. Not actually building anything but instead managing the admin function on building sites. And you've most likely never seen such awful working conditions!
After this, I went to Hong Kong. To be honest, I got there because I followed a Quantity Surveyor who transferred to the International side of the business. BUT not one to sit around; I became the Personal Assistant to the CEO of a watch manufacturing company.
Wow, what a role and experience this was! Suddenly I was responsible for everything and anything this man needed. It took me about six months to settle in, and after that, it was a truly amazing time. I was there before, during and after the handover, which added to the magic. One of my projects was organising a company dinner at The Peninsular Hotel to celebrate the handover, and that night in the hotel nightclub, I met Grace Jones!
While we worked really hard (six days a week and long hours), the flip side was I got to holiday in Thailand, Malaysia and other beautiful destinations. Although you should know that we only received12-days holiday a year!
Back in the UK after three fabulous years, I returned to construction and Kier Build. This time working for them at their head office in Bedford. Manging the administration function and team at head office and on twelve building sites.
Commuting from Salisbury took its toll, so I decided to leave and became the manager of the Well Woman Centre, which was a charity run by women for women. All of the services provided were free, and we gave women access to counselling and group support. While managing the charity operationally, my interest was in domestic violence, and I chaired the local forum.
While at the Well Woman Centre, I completed my NVQ 5 in Strategic Management, implementing all that I leant to strengthen the charity in a business sense.
The role of Centre Manager provided me with an insight into local government who part-funded our work. Perhaps, it is no surprise that my next step was to move into that space, becoming the Partnership Manager for the South Wiltshire Strategic Alliance. Managing the Alliance team and their work in community development.
Supporting this complex partnership required innovation and creativity, and I was working with individuals at all levels and from across the statutory, private, voluntary and community sectors.
Partnership work can be challenging but extremely rewarding. Perhaps this is how and why I went on to become Salisbury Centre Manager, continuing that partnership work but with a new community – the business community.
This is a role I held for ten years and loved (well, most of the time)! It was diverse, exciting and I got to do stuff like organising the turning on of the Christmas lights and bringing the first Christmas Market to the city.
The opportunity was always there for more partnership working, speaking, event management and being part of something. Supporting the local business community while promoting a vibrant city. A strategic post, one that required understanding of different needs.
The organisation was a member of the Association of Town Centre Managers, and I chaired the regionals meetings for the South West. I was also a finalist for the Town Centre Manager Award in 2006 – beaten by the Town Centre Manager for Kingston-Upon-Thames (I think from memory).
In 2012 things were started to change in the city centre management arena, and it was an obvious next step for the city of Salisbury to become a Business Improvement District. There was no longer a need for Salisbury City Centre Management, which opened up redundancy that I took, and LBB Business Solutions was born.
Initially, I set myself up as a virtual assistant and replaced my 'salary' within months.
However, some clients wanted me on-site, and it was my strategic and operational skills that were being used to strengthen and grow businesses. Thankfully others needed my marketing knowledge and expertise, and this could be done virtually.
After a few years, I was frustrated because I could see a lack of cohesion for my clients. They weren't joining up the dots, so they remained busy, and the whole ethos of what I was doing was to give them back time to grow their businesses.
Plus, there are only so many hours in the day, and I wanted to make a bigger impact and help more entrepreneurs and SME's.
So, I became a business coach, starting my journey by hosting live training events – on marketing! I was encouraged to do this by my then business coach, who could see my full potential. In fact, she hired me to coach in her programmes, the very ones I'd been a member of!
Spin forward to 2021, and I'm on a mission to inspire and guide female entrepreneurs to fulfil their greatest potential without sacrificing their evenings and weekends. This is more important to me than ever because, in 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and this required three separate operations (the last being mastectomy and reconstruction).
I've no career path to share, but I have experience, knowledge and expertise, and my journey has made me who I am today. I have arrived, and I am right where I'm supposed to be, coaching, mentoring and lifting others up to be all that they can be and deserve to be.
What kind of work does your role involve?
As a coach, I'm invited into my clients' businesses - it's a real honour and privilege and one I never tire of. They let me in, show me the good, the bad and the ugly. They are eager and ready to work with me and to fulfil their potential. Often they come to me because they are also ready to create balance and start living their best life - they don't want to be busy for busy's sake any longer.
I work with clients on a one-to-one basis, focusing solely on their business, challenges and goals, or in a group programme setting. How you work with me is totally up to you, my role is to make sure that you choose the right option for you and your business.
My client base includes solopreneurs and owners of small businesses with bricks and mortar and staff.
When I am not working with my clients, I pride myself on walking the talk and use the tools and strategies I share with my clients.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Business coaching is a massive industry, and I've worked with some of the best here in the UK, the States and New Zealand. I understand the benefits of working with a coach, and my business always leaps forward, and growth happens faster when I am. So, of course, I want coaching to be accessible to all.
However, it can be extremely difficult to choose a coach, so I would always suggest asking others for a recommendation.
Although you should also get clear on the challenges, where you need help and support or even what you want to achieve by working with a coach. That way it's easier to find the right one for you.
I know that sounds crazy because a business owner may have no idea what they need or want right now. Here's the thing, if you know something isn't working, then you need a coach. If you feel out of alignment, know you are working too many hours, and definitely, if you are not achieving your goals and targets - you need a coach.
I also truly believe that a great coach will always tell you if they are not suitable for you or feel there is an element you need to work on before starting with them.
The industry doesn't always have a good name, but I want to reassure you that there are amazing coaches out there, and all of them put the interests of their client first!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I've had the most fantastic advice over the years, and the first was 'give up your job'. This isn't the advice for everyone, but I understood what they were saying because it's tough to start a business when time is not your own, and you are trying to fit it in.
The other one that really sticks in my mind is: 'you can't get your marketing wrong because it will always be perfect for your five-star client'.
I love this, as it made me way more confident in trying stuff, and it allowed me to be me in all that I do because I'm not for everyone, and that is totally okay. But I do have to be me in all that I do.
Another favourite: 'it doesn't have to be perfect'. No, it doesn't because done is always better than perfect.
What, or who inspires you?
This one is hard because there are many amazing people that inspire me. My husband, who is registered blind, for instance, and clients I've worked with who overcome challenges and achieved great things.