Tamsen Garrie – Alpha Associates Ltd
This month we interviewed Tamsen Garrie from Alpha Associates. Tamsen is the author of the landmark book ‘The Act Of Attraction In Business’ and is best known for the significant transformation she makes with businesses and business owners through her unique approach to business growth, where she combines practical business strategy with a deep understanding of how the mind works to effect extraordinary business results.
(Find out more about Tamsen and her Twelve Steps to Traction Programme on our Rewards Membership page).
Would you mind giving us a brief explanation of what your business is and when you launched it?
Alpha Associates is my business and we are business growth enablers through:
- Coaching and Mentoring (both 1-2-1and in groups)
- Mastermind and Accountability Groups
- Team and Leadership Alignment Training and Workshops.
The business is owned by myself and my business partner, and we have a number of associates who we work with on our various programmes. Alpha is 10 years old this month (1st November!).
What made you want to start this particular business?
Well, the truth is that when I started the business, it was a small Hypnotherapy practice. My background is in Human Resources in the Corporate sector and I became disillusioned with that sector back in 2000 when I realised that my passion was the development of people and that my ability to influence the development of people was limited in that environment.
I decided to retrain in Psychology, Hypnotherapy, Coaching and NLP. My motivation when I started Alpha was to help people to overcome challenges in their lives and to create the lives they want.
At the time, I was also a shareholder and National Director for a UK Business Network, a business that we took national in less than two years and because I was spending most of my time in the small business space, most of my private clients were people in business. Over time, I went from helping them with emotional and psychological issues to coaching them through business challenges and so when I sold my shares in the business network, it was a natural transition for me to move my own business into the business growth space.
The reason that Alpha Associates exists now in the form it does is that I believe that the greatest barrier to success for small and micro business owners is the belief that we can or that we should build a business on our own. Actually, it isn’t possible to build a business on your own. There is so much involved in building and running a business and no single person can possibly possess all the attributes and skills required to do it all.
We help business owners to first realise this and then second to plug the gaps so that they have the best chance of succeeding and we do this through coaching and mentoring programmes and through our Mastermind Programme enACT.
What do you think it takes to succeed in business?
It takes lots of different things.
- Vision – having a future destination to move towards, one that inspires and motivates you to take action.
- Strategy – working out what needs to happen to make that vision reality (including what needs to happen internally in terms of our beliefs, thoughts and feelings).
- Planning – documenting the specific action required.
- Aligned action – that is action that is aligned with the vision and the strategy as opposed to scatter gun action.
- But most of all it takes faith, courage and the ability to hold one’s nerve, because it’s not a smooth road and it’s a road that comes with a fair amount of doubt and fear, as well as immense satisfaction!
What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?
That your vision is always in the future. I made the mistake early on in business of thinking that your vision was something to be reached. It’s isn’t. The job of the vision for the business is to inspire and motivate you and those in the business to take action. It provides a destination (the what) and a reason (the why), so that the action you take is focused and meaningful and aligned with a specific outcome.
However, as you gain ground towards the vision, the vision moves. I learnt this the hard way when in a previous business, as one of four directors, we reached our vision in two years and only then had the conversation about what was next. We couldn’t agree and the relationships fell apart. Thankfully we had successfully created a strong brand and a solid infrastructure, so the business itself didn’t!
What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?
With my first business, it was naivety. It’s true. I often say that if we truly understood what was involved in building a business before we started, most of us wouldn’t start. I didn’t know back then how hard it can be and a bit of denial can be useful when you are starting out. The second business was the national business network that I mentioned earlier and there were four Directors, each with a completely different personality, history and skillset and what really worked there is that none of them understood people and leadership like I did, but because they had the rest covered, I was able to really play to my strengths and build the team and the processes and training to enable that team to build that business nationally. In my current business, it’s probably the level of credibility I have developed over the years. I have a track record now and that really helps when you do what I do.
If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?
There’s only one. Follow your gut. Every single time.
What difficulties did you experience setting up your business and what has got you through the tough times?
I don’t recall difficulties setting the business up, but again, I was naïve. The challenges for me came when I was coming out of start-up and into growth. Cashflow issues is a challenge that most small businesses have to face and I remember times in my previous business when we were riding the wave between profit and going bust frequently. What gets you through it is having the ability to hold your nerve as I mentioned earlier and also having peers to share the experience with – that’s one of the reasons I have a business partner.
Looking back now, would you have done anything differently?
Nope. The journey has been what it is and I know what I know because of it. I will however do things very differently in the future!
Do you have (or did you have) a mentor and when you need advice, who do you talk to?
I have had lots of mentors over the years. Some I have outgrown and some I still look to for advice and encouragement. I have been a member of a number of Mastermind Groups and I have a team who whilst it’s my job to support them, teach me something in every single interaction. Often our greatest teachers are our clients and team.
What are your plans for the future?
To build enACT nationally so that group coaching and accountability and collaborative problem solving is available to anyone in business at a price-point that’s affordable. To write my second book. To build the Team Alignment side of the business.
Do you have any specific tips for anyone wanting to start a new business?
Get clear about why you want it. Why is and will always be our greatest motivator and building a business is ultimately all about motivation.