Mandy Walker, Focus First Business Coaching

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This month Business Minds interviews its first Tamworth-based business owner, Mandy Walker of Focus First Business Coaching. Focus First services the New England and North West.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up on the land in Glen Innes. My background is in engineering and maintenance, with 10 years’ experience in heavy industry, with organisations including BlueScope Steel, Cargill, Ford Motor Company, and Rio Tinto. I transitioned into business coaching in 2010.

What brought you to Tamworth?

I originally wanted to move back to the New England for the regional lifestyle and to be closer to family. I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity while with Cargill. I really enjoy the mix of business opportunity, access to an airport, and the local country feel that Tamworth has to offer. It’s what drew me in, and what keeps me here. I love its unique mix of dirt, dust, dogs and opportunity.

What does Focus First do?

I work with entrepreneurial mid-sized business owners who are growth-oriented. They’re wanting some change in their business, but are caught up in the day-to-day running and need help focusing strategically.

At the end of the day, my role is to help business owners or leaders to identify problems in their business, help them solve them, and hold them accountable for getting the work done. 

Why work with Focus First?

I work with business owners of already successful and mature businesses who are frustrated with growth that has stalled, or they need to kick it off, or they’re dealing with the consequences of rapid growth. They are not getting as much profit or cash from the business as they want and need, and it’s sucking the life out of them.

Different break points happen in the natural growth of a business, and rapid growth can be a huge stressor. I work with business owners on their strategy and execution, people, cash flow, and even on the owner themselves.

Anyone who has ever worked with me knows that I have a bias towards practicality and good decision-making processes. I don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach; my process considers the nature of the individual
business, the industry, its market, its culture, and perhaps most importantly, its clients. 

I help businesses in a way that is natural for them and their business, in a way that is fulfilling to them.

What would you advise a business just starting out?

I’d tell them a story about Pi, the rule of three. That it will take three times as long as you think it will, three times as much cash, and will be three times harder than you think it will be. But it doesn’t have to be true for them. If they are prepared for that environment or reality, they are much more likely to be around for five years, and better positioned to have more fun along the way.

I would also encourage them to spend a lot of time thinking about how they are different and what the true value they provide to their customer is.   

What inspires you?

I believe that regional businesses are the engines of our economy and the source of our freedom. I am inspired by helping build local businesses, working with them, their teams and the families that support them. 

I also encourage my clients to put “skin in the game” to give their clients confidence in their offer. In turn, I offer the opportunity for any business owner to sit with me and discuss their business and offer advice, on a no obligation, no fee basis. It’s my way of adding value back to the community.

What’s next for Focus First?

I am getting ready to launch an interactive app for business owners. It’s designed to help clients run the business end of their business – a business owner’s scoreboard, not an accounting dashboard. It gives business owners the tools to understand exactly where the problems are and the cost to their business, so they can focus on solving the right problems.

It was born out of my frustration with clients not having financial literacy around their business. When clients have better optics around their business performance, they can make better decisions – and more money.

The app can do everything from financial modelling, where it pulls live data such as your Xero files or regional weather data. It’s easy to use and features easily understood visuals. Users don’t need to have a head for maths, as the heavy lifting is done for you. You can immediately apply the analytics to your decision-making process.

How will you support the app?

Focus First can provide different levels of support. Some users will just want their dashboard set up, while others might want to work with me for advice and coaching around strategies they can apply to deal with the problems in their business.

The app will sit alongside two other programs: Focus on Action, providing an accountability framework; and Focused Boards for clients who don’t need weekly coaching, but need a sounding board and different perspectives from six other business owners.

Sounds exciting! Thanks Mandy.

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