Joy Burnford, Founder & CEO, Encompass Equality Ltd

From solopreneur to MD of a training consultancy and leading the way for gender equality in the workplace

Success Highlights:

  • Increased authority as a Forbes contributor
  • A clear plan on how to have strategic high-level conversations
  • Moving from operating in a BCB space into a B2B space and being positioned as a leading edge researcher on gender equality

“Momentum has been a business catalyst for speeding up my growth. Being stretched and challenged has been incredible​”

What was the key reason you decided Momentum was the right programme for you to join?

I felt that I needed to have someone externally to talk things through with; to discuss the strategic direction of my business and being challenged around the right things to do. For example, most recently getting specific help on deciding to move ahead with my podcast was immensely helpful and helped me speed up the thinking process of how to position it and get the content right before getting stuck into the doing of it.

I had already started up and grown a previous business with a business partner. But this time around I was by myself so when you’re starting out and working on your own, having the support from the Momentum programme helped me to not feel so isolated.

What have you worked on during your time in Momentum that has made a difference to you and your business?

In the early days, it was really easy to beat myself up. I was really impatient and felt a lot of frustration, as I wasn’t seeing the results quickly enough. Because I wasn’t starting out with an existing client list, I needed to build up relationships in the first year and it felt really hard going at times. But then with the help of the Momentum programme, I started getting more specific about who I wanted to speak to and what I was offering, and finding the key decision-makers got easier.

To start with, I began selling programmes to individuals, but it was clear in those early months, I wasn’t getting returns on the effort I was putting in. I was having lots of conversations but it was frustrating and I realised that I didn’t have the right business model or experience for this. My focus then changed when I started interviewing high profile decision makers and writing articles for Forbes. I hired a writer to support me and set up the processes to have now produced more than 40 articles and established myself as a key contributor in the female leadership space.

I’ll admit it was hard work at times, but this strategy opened up doors for me and massively helped me feel more confident to steer my work towards the research that we do now. I was able to start delivering high impact leadership coaching programmes through a small team of associates that I recruited. Plus we also began to provide leading edge research on gender equality. Last year, we undertook a major piece of research. We had 2,499 people contribute to our survey on how gender impacted confidence in the workplace and the report that we produced not only created opportunities for us to run our leadership programmes but sponsorship opportunities as well.

What are the key things you’ve gained from working in Momentum?

There are two words I think that sum up what I have gained from Momentum; “stretch” and “support”. For example, with the Forbes articles, the coaching team really challenged me to say yes and then think about how was I going to do it. They got me to take some pretty bold actions, which got me my first high-profile interview. So talking through my options and getting feedback on this strategy was a real turning point for me and the business.

They also helped me simplify things, and in doing so, this took the pressure off my shoulders. Doing the End of Cycle Review exercises at the conclusion of each Grow Strong Planning Cycle was really useful; having time to reflect helped me see my progress. Before this, I was always in the future so stopping to review and celebrate successes was important.

My confidence has come through and I now appreciate that things take a bit longer, especially when working within the corporate marketplace. I will admit that I struggled with the Business Heartbeat (setting my sales, leads and prospect targets) to start with until I settled into working out my own unique selling rhythm. And having the clarity of the Leap and Pillar Projects really helped. The simplicity of the Grow Strong Plans meant that I could complete the milestone boxes, and once each was done I could move on to the next one. This gave me clarity of mind about where I was heading and not feel I was juggling a million things.

What is it like working with Karen and her coaching team?

I can honestly say that the last eighteen months I have grown the most I have ever grown in my career. The work I have done with the coaching team has been instrumental in this. The stretch and support from someone saying “you really can do this” is incredible.

They have been a business catalyst for speeding up my growth. Being stretched and challenged, and learning from their experience has been incredible. I like to surround myself with people who stretch me, but don’t treat me as though I am ignorant.

How do you feel about the year coming up now that you’ve worked in Momentum?

I’ve got my podcast to launch and now have a clear plan on how to have strategic high-level conversations, which I know is helping me bring in new clients. We are planning on producing a second research project on gender equality and now have a schedule to run three key events this year.

A lot of what I’ve done is about marketing and building my credibility up, but it’s the confidence I feel about my growth that I really like. I can see how to grow, scale and use my associates and networks to sell more programmes and support more organisations.

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