Business performance coach Jannine Oates

Jannine Oates inspires and empowers business entrepreneurs, leaders and managers (and working mums) to develop a winning mindset and gain sustainable results through her company Inspirit Learning Partners. She shares some of the secrets of her success with us.

What’s your career background and the background to Inspirit?

I’m a Yorkshire-based leadership facilitator and business performance coach who loves to work with people to explore their talents and personalities and how they can be used to maximise their performance in business.

I’ve always had an interest in people and an appreciation for talent. My older sister has learning and physical disabilities and I’ve grown up with a strong belief that ‘everyone has potential’.  I began voluntary work including special needs gymnastics coaching at an early age and have always known that people are my passion.

I have over nine years’ experience in Leadership and Development having worked for companies such as O2 and CragRats. I’m also an associate Leadership Facilitator and Performance Coach for management training firm Dale Carnegie, delivering training for them across the world on blue chip brands.

One of the areas I specialise in is Working Parent Courses, helping working parents and carers who are either already in business (either self-employed or employed by a company) or looking to start a business whilst continuing to be full-time parents.

My business experience prior to Inspirit includes a 15 year career in corporate sales in the financial, recruitment and training sectors -all roles that were focused on supporting people and helping them achieve.

When did you launch Inspirit?

I launched Inspirit Learning Partners in June 2012 to create value by inspiring people. I teach people to develop a ‘can do’ growth mind-set so that they learn to maximise every opportunity to achieve what they want in life. I work in a very creative, innovative and fun way which people really engage with.

We also use the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment to help people identify their top five strengths and focus on what they do best every day. Identifying these strengths can totally maximise your performance in your role and ignite engagement levels in both your business and personal life.

My aim is to be recognised as a leading light by businesses of all sizes across Yorkshire and the North of England for my leadership, management and coaching development success and innovative methods; and also for my working parent expertise.

I’m also committed to the success of others within business and in addition to running Inspirit, I’m a volunteer Business Mentor for my local authority; supporting business owners to drive their own success. I’m also Vice Chair for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB UK) in Calderdale and an active committee member of Business for Calderdale in West Yorkshire.

I’m delighted that Inspirit has recently been accredited as a Growth Voucher provider as part of the Government’s Growth Accelerator programme. This means that owners of small businesses with large growth potential can come to me for help and support in the areas of leadership and development and claim half the cost back from the Government.

How does Inspirit help people?

Inspirit helps people by encouraging them to explore their personalities and how they can use them to thrive and become successful in business.

Whether you’re a working parent in the infancy of a new business looking for support, or an established manager in a large blue-chip company, we will balance a productive, corporate environment with engaging, explorative activities to encourage communication, feedback and self-belief that will ignite your performance through a ‘can-do’ attitude.

I think the unique selling point of the business is the flexibility of all our programmes and workshops, and how they are constantly adapted according to the client we are working with on any given project.

One day we might be delivering a leadership workshop to a hundred employees at Jaguar Landrover over a four month period, the next it might be a bespoke personal growth programme about how to manage stress to five employees or an individual.

What makes Inspirit stand out from its competitors is the personality behind the business.  I have worked hard to inject my passion for people and enthusiasm into everything Inspirit does, and I am well recognised across West Yorkshire for my love of champagne and leopard print.

I always deliver my workshops wearing something leopard print to leave my clients with a lasting memory, and have even incorporated my love for champagne and Ferrero Rocher into an upcoming workshop entitled ‘Fizz and Ferrero’! I believe that going the extra mile to deliver something memorable for my clients has been the key to the success and lasting impression of Inspirit to date.

What makes you good at what you do?

I believe that the fact that I’m a working mum running a business myself is imperative to the advice and experience that goes into my working parent programmes. I’ve built my business around working flexibly and being able to have enough time to spend with my son and family, so I know that it is definitely achievable if you go about it in a strategic way.

I also work closely with all my clients to get to know every individual and what their strengths and development areas are, which in turn enables me to develop bespoke programmes and learning outcomes to engage every person we work with.

To do this, I have to constantly engage with individuals and use my passion for developing people’s strengths to ensure that I’m doing my job properly. People can also relate to my experiences as a working parent and that really helps to build a great rapport.

Through my role for the FSB I work actively to protect and reward other small business owners like myself across West Yorkshire.

Similarly my mentoring work sees me dedicate 1.5 hours each month voluntarily to work on a one-to-one basis with other small business owners to help them grow and develop their businesses. Being a business mentor means that I have to engage with my mentee from the beginning, and actively get to know their business and personality in order to provide the best coaching advice and support possible.

I find this extremely rewarding, and have received lots of positive feedback on my flexible and explorative mentoring style, which is great. There’s nothing better than a lovely email from a happy client telling you about the difference you’ve made to their business success. 

How do you balance work and your family?

As well as running Inspirit, I’m a mum to my young son, Oliver. I have built my business around my commitment as a mum, as I place high importance on spending quality time with my family and not sacrificing time with them for time on my business.

To enable me to have this time with Oliver and my partner, I have worked from home since launching Inspirit in 2012 and also consciously chose not to work on a Friday, instead dedicating this time to Oliver, friends and family.

Working from home also allows me to deliver my management training work through Dale Carnegie alongside Inspirit, working flexibly to fit everything in around my busy schedule.

I also now incorporate my work/life balance techniques into the work I deliver through Inspirit via my Working Parent programmes, to demonstrate to other parents that there is more to life than work – it’s just all about getting some support to achieve the right balance. I also have a brilliant strategic business coach through the Government’s Growth Accelerator programme.

What’s the hardest part of running your own company?

I strive not to think negatively about work, as it’s essential with the programmes I deliver that I ignite people’s personalities and creativity every day.

But I suppose what I’ve found most challenging is learning how to switch off properly and enjoy ‘me’ time, as I’d always have something to work on if I chose to. It’s also much more challenging to have a ‘bad day’, as this can have much bigger implications when you’re responsible for your own business instead of in paid employment.

And the best?

What I love about running Inspirit is that I get to do what I love every day; inspiring people to become better leaders and working with their personalities to achieve the best results. I also love being able to constantly develop the Inspirit brand and introduce new concepts based around my personality. For example, I’m currently in the process of creating a new leadership workshop based around my favourite tipple and chocolates, champagne and Ferrero Rocher!

What I love most of all is the flexibility of being able to balance my work and home life without having to run it past anyone first. Being able to work four days a week and spend my Fridays with Oliver is also massive bonus and one that’s very important to me. 

What’s your best piece of advice for ambitious mums?

Be very clear from the outset on your vision for your business and make sure you have a clear plan in place for how you are going to achieve that vision. Without focus and clear objectives, it really does make it very challenging to sell yourself and measure your success (which in turn will fuel your confidence!)

Surrounding yourself with a great network of positive and open-minded business people is also very important, as they will provide an important support network in more difficult times and ignite new ideas for how you can continue with your own success and celebrate when it’s all going brilliantly.

You find out more about Inspirit Learning Partners on their website.