Interview with Ali Miles-Jenkins, founder of The BoomBiz and the BoomBoss Manifesto
Ali Miles-Jenkins is an award winning business owner, trainer, coach, author of New Manager Secrets, a speaker and hypnotherapist. She’s now championing the cause of women over 50 who want that second bite of the cherry to set up and grow their very own expert businesses.
What’s your career background?
I’ve been an entrepreneur since 1990 which never fails to surprise me as I came from a very academic background! I developed a passion for business and marketing in my final year studying languages at Warwick and Nuremberg Universities.
In 1982 I graduated and went on to successful research and development roles in European Marketing and Business Training working in diverse Private and Public Sector organisations. In 1987 at the age of 28 I became a senior manager with my own team, and set up one of the first Local Authority training departments in the UK.
I took that huge leap of entrepreneurial faith in 1990 and set up my own management and training consultancy right in the middle of a recession!
I went on to create multiple business, management and personal development programmes which have helped more than 50,000 people achieve individual and business goals, to overcome challenges and to make the most of opportunities, personally and professionally, in the UK and internationally.
How did your career change after having children?
One of the drivers behind choosing the time in 1990 to set up my own business was the birth of my first daughter in 1988. My then employer was great at allowing me to organise my own schedule and even offered me a day off a week on full pay to have time with her, because they knew I worked very hard.
But I found I was always booking work meetings into the ‘spare day’ and working at home wasn’t really an option in those days without the technology we take for granted now. I wanted the flexibility to combine work with spending time with my first child.
So I took that huge entrepreneurial leap of faith and my business was born on 01 October 1990 and I never looked back!
When did you get the idea for the business you now run for women over 50?
I had an epiphany moment in 2016 when I realised that some of the senior women in management roles that I was coaching at work were subsequently leaving their careers because “They wanted to me more like me and do what I was doing- running my own expert business.”
Many women had also confided in me that they felt marginalised and stereotyped once they reached 50. They were passed over for promotion and made to feel as though it was ‘time to hang up the high heels’.
So one again I took a deep breath and set off on a mission to help women over 50 have that second bite of the cherry, set up their very own businesses and become their own CEO at work and play, finally securing the lifestyle they deserve.
How did you move from idea to an actual business?
I was on a business trip to South Africa in the spring of 2016 and used some of my ‘down time’ to research the demographic and the market. I was particularly drawn to what was going on with the baby boomer generation in the USA as I believe from an entrepreneurial and marketing standpoint the Americans are often ahead of us by a few years.
I launched ‘The BoomBiz’ some months later and put it into Beta testing for a year to check it was a viable market, refine my niche and test my services and products. Although I had spent most of my career working with men more than women I then decided that this time round I was going to niche further and champion the cause of women over 50.
Who’s your target audience?
I work exclusively with women over 50 who are determined implementers, who want to reinvent and reinvigorate themselves by setting up and growing their very own businesses, using their life experience, expertise, skills and knowledge.
How do you spread the word about what you Do?
I practise what I teach others to do – use a suite of on and offline marketing tools and techniques, along with PR and networking.
The most important part of it all at the moment though is building a fabulous, supportive network of women over 50 in my closed Facebook Group: ‘BoomBoss: Expert Women In Business’. We have members from all over the world and it’s growing daily. The energy, collaboration and drive of these women is truly inspirational.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
So far the biggest obstacle was taking the financial risk to divert 80% of my time to this new venture, and away from my well-established business I had built over nearly three decades.
And your proudest moment so far?
Without a doubt my biggest achievement is setting up The BoomBiz from a blank sheet. In just over a year I’ve created this vibrant, powerful and fabulous community of BoomBosses – women over 50 who are now confident in their abilities to become entrepreneurs and have their second bite of the cherry!
I’ve had the most amazing feedback from the women who also come on my training events to start and grow their businesses. To see them with renewed self-belief, optimism, motivation, excitement and energy is very humbling.
Why is work so important to you?
For me it’s not that work is important to me; it’s the sense of achievement and self worth that drives me now, as it has always done.
Who inspires you?
I’m most inspired by those who have overcome terrible adversity and gone on to achieve something amazing in their lives.
How do you balance your business with your family?
Over the years it has become a family business! My eldest daughter ended up working with me for several years which was wonderful as she was the reason why I left a career and started my business. So that was a very special time. My son followed in her footsteps and worked with me and now has his own successful consultancy.
That’s a very special experience, to work with your kids. I’m a grandma now, too and of course being my own CEO means I can choose to organise my working hours to give me the flexibility to spend time with my family, horse and dogs. On the flip side I do work very long hours when necessary!
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
Now that’s a hard one – to choose just three top tips as I have so many! But here goes:
- Don’t just follow your passion – make sure it is going to be profitable and give you the lifestyle you seek. Passion wears thin if you are struggling.
- Research your idea – you don’t want to come up with an idea that no-one else is doing as there is likely to be a reason for that, unless of course you have millions in the bank
- Set yourself up as an expert in a tight niche to start off with. Do not set up a generalist business in a commoditised market, or you are highly likely to flounder.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I’m already working on my next challenge, which is to get my K.I.M. initiative out there globally. K.I.M. stands for ‘Keep In Momentum’ and is a very special programme that I provide for free to women over 50 who have had cancer and who now want to start afresh and become their own boss. I know there is a saying that you should wait until your business has been up and running for a good period of time and generating huge profits before you give back. But I don’t want to wait to help these women.
I had a very special, unique and unlikely friendship with my ex-husband’s girlfriend Kim. She died aged 55 in May 2017 of lung cancer. Kim embodied the ‘BoomBoss’ mentality even though she was not a career or business person. Kim was so interested in hearing all about my plans to help women over 50. She was strong, a no BS action taker who didn’t want to waste another second of her life. She would have given anything for the opportunity to reinvigorate herself and take advantage of the endless opportunities out there.
So in memory of Kim, my challenge is to get this free programme out there on a global scale, to help women over 50 whose lives have been so terribly interrupted by this cruel disease.
I’ve also got a book coming out soon for Women over 50…but I can’t reveal the title yet!
What do you do when you aren’t running your businesses?
I’m a family person at heart. I love being at home. We live in the country. I have three children, one granddaughter, four Jack Russells and a horse called Harvey. I’m passionate about having a great lifestyle over 50, as that’s all part of being your own boss with your own business. I enjoy running, the gym, riding, dancing, socialising and travelling. So there’s always lots going on!