Name: Louise Percy
Company: Positive about Business
Top Tips for Success
- Deliver the best for the customer/client
- Be honest; don’t overcommit
- Healthy body means healthy mind; take time out just for you
- Set regular goals
- Talk to other people in business. Be a good listener and share experiences; we can all learn from one another. So, don’t be precious with information; there is plenty of work for us all.
For outgoing Glasgow-born-and-bred Louise Percy, a Depute Director with a housing association, it was hard to believe that stress due to circumstances outwith her control had led her to a tough bout of anxiety and depression, forcing her to abandon her career and suffer a massive knock in confidence.
But, determined to get herself back on track, have a purpose and make an even better life, she bravely rediscovered the tenacity and fire in her belly. “I wanted to get the old, confident me back,” explained 42-year-old Louise. “I was sick of reliving the circumstances from the previous two years at work. I knew the only person that could change how I was feeling and what I could become was me. The old strength and self-determination slowly but surely crept back and I knew I wanted to start my own business.”
So, she set about getting her body fit: “As we all know, it helps the mind. My mum paid for the services of a personal trainer and since then I’ve lost two stone and 41 inches. My trainer, Carol, encouraged me to focus on my body as a project, just as I do in business.”
A successful new career lay ahead but, of course, great achievements had gone before to make Louise into the budding businesswoman she is today. Even as a youngster, work was no stranger to Louise, starting at the local butcher’s shop aged 13 – “learning how to make black pudding; now that’s a life experience!” – then, upon leaving school, she hoped to join the police force.
Here, she learned her first harsh, if not a little comical, lesson in working life: “I thought I was going to walk straight in to the job when I went for the interview in the early ‘90s with my ‘tangerine’ sharp suit and French plaited hair, driving to the station in my Fiat Panda. I was told to go away, see a bit of the world and get some beef around my ankles. It was a rude awakening but I still loved watching The Bill,” laughs Louise.
The policewoman dream behind her, a career in banking beckoned instead. But it wasn’t for her so she looked for more money and an opportunity to progress – and found it: “I always remember the woman interviewing me for the trainee position in the housing association asking why I wanted to leave the bank for a housing scheme. I didn’t know but it felt right.”
Louise quickly progressed through the ranks and was appointed as a Housing Manager at 23; one of the youngest people in that role in Scotland at the time: “At a housing conference shortly after my appointment I overheard someone say that I must have been in the right place at the right time. That just made me more determined to succeed.”
She attended university on a day release basis for three years in her late twenties and proudly reached Depute Director status, a post she held for 11 years: “It was varied and included strategic, operational and project management duties. For a time it was the best job I’d ever had.”
That was, until Positive About Business was established: “With my previous experience I knew I could help other businesses. My career, albeit in the one sector, had seen me involved in preparing for accreditations, like Investors in People Gold, devising policies and procedures, managing staff, looking after health and safety and much more. I had lots of tools in my toolkit,” she explains.
After starting out broadly and offering a variety of services Louise decided to focus on a niche area. She now adds value to her growing client base by preparing their businesses to enter the procurement world: “I support with applying for tenders and completing pre-qualification questionnaires, as well as assisting businesses applying for accreditations, whether general or industry-specific qualifications.”
Her success has seen her services expand as she gets to know each client; some asking her to stay on in an operational position and use other experience to represent them at meetings or audits, for example.
Due to the nature of her business, Louise is used to wearing all lots of hats at one time: “I play every role, from bookkeeper to marketer, whilst building my business and delivering for the client.”
But it’s working for her: “I enjoy the flexibility of being my own boss. If I feel like starting work at 11am and carrying on into the evening, I can – when I’m not with clients, of course! I love not being tied to a routine or working long hours for someone else.”
A year after starting her business Louise also set out to get her body into shape and get fit. “As we all know, it helps the mind. I hired a personal trainer and since then I’ve lost two stone and 41 inches. My trainer Carol encourages me to focus on my body as a project, just as I do in business. #ProjectLouise is almost complete”.
More than two years in, business is growing steadily, with most clients coming as referrals from happy customers. Next year will bring an expansion to her client base and Louise hopes, within five years, to have grown enough to justify employing a consultant or two.
There are bigger plans too, of diversification: “Like any business owner, I want to grow. I intend to develop the ‘Positive About’ brand, which I named accordingly as my motto after the illness focused on being positive. I’ve always had a keen interest in the Law of Attraction and after exploring it in more depth, I know I want the mind-set to continue. Anything is possible if you believe it and put it out there to the universe.”
“Already, I’ve set up Positive About Life, which will provide affordable life coaching to individuals who may have lost their way a bit, helping to bring focus and create goals. I’ve allowed myself to be healed and want to help others.”
She often reflects on her pride in getting to where she is today: “When I was ill I spent a lot of time in the spare room wondering how my life would turn out. I’ve since converted that into my smart home office. Sitting here, I usually have quiet, satisfied reflection about my strength and determination in turning my life around after such a difficult time. I’ve also changed my body shape and mind-set”.