COVID-19 has had its fair share of stories, both successful and unsuccessful, but for inspirational South West Wales Entrepreneur Bernie Davies, the pandemic proved the motivation she needed to put pen to paper and write a book to help other businesses succeed – while simultaneously launching a platform to help other businesses navigate the pandemic and embrace the opportunities that emerge.
Bernie’s second book, ‘Your Business, Your Way’, only launched last week – and has already topped the Amazon charts in three categories, including the prestigious HR-Training category. The book builds on Bernie’s previous work the ‘Networking Handbook’, a classic in its own right – and after a successful career in law, followed by just over a decade of business and networking success, Bernie is well placed to offer guidance.
Bernie firmly believes that business success is as much about the owner as the product, and challenges many of the stereotypical beliefs which are imprinted on us from an early age. She explains:
“We all inherit beliefs, good and bad, but often the characteristics we perceive as a weakness may be a strength. Most powerful of all is the knowledge that we can choose who we want to be, and living those values will drive the culture of our business – leading to professional and personal success.
“We’re told ‘what people think about me isn’t my business’ – but it is YOUR business, so if you are perceived a certain way, and don’t like that perception, look at what signals you are sending out and change them! I call this ‘finding you’ – and learning to embrace and express yourself. Building your confidence and carving your own path in business will attract the right people and empower you to succeed.”
Bernie’s own career and business success is inspirational. Having initially qualified as a lawyer, she became Head of Property at New Law, and later a respected entrepreneur, networker and business leader, a founding council member of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Neath Chamber of Trade. Bernie also launched and built a much-loved chain of restaurants called Jamaican Jill’s. Bernie has earned numerous accolades including Best Caribbean Restaurant in Wales 2019, Swansea Black Icon 2019 and Excellence in Business 2017, an award associated with Black History Month. She was also voted in the Top 100 Business Women in Wales 2017 – and now, Bernie is focusing her time on helping and guiding other entrepreneurs as a respected author, business mentor and the owner of the Introbiz Swansea and West Wales franchise.
The book is filled with the practical exercises and tips Bernie shares with business owners in her one to one mentoring and networking sessions.
Bernie explains: “We are all unique, but every business, big and small, starts with an idea and the individual behind it.”
Here are Bernie’s top tips to help a new business grow and thrive:
- Find your Passion– the businesses that succeed are those where the owner has a passion for what they do, a passion for doing it the best way they possibly can and paying homage to their core values. By doing this, win or lose, you will enjoy what you do, and that passion will shine through, attracting customers and inspiring your team.
- Live your Values– explore your values and don’t be afraid to practise them, inside and outside your business. Your values will dictate the culture of your company, enabling you to grow and truly lead your business, rather than just dictating to others and making decisions purely for financial reasons. You are the best asset your business has, so don’t be afraid to examine yourself. Start to build your self confidence and positivity – find your ‘you’ and never stop living your authentic life, discarding any early beliefs, experiences and values that no longer support your highest good.
- Learn to listen and to value others– often we race through conversations with our own agenda, wanting to feel important by saying something clever. This means we don’t truly hear what is being said – and importantly, what isn’t being said. The greatest leaders know how to make everyone, from the cleaner to the deputy CEO, feel appreciated and valued. This is even more important when speaking with customers. Let others tell their story, and they can help you create yours.
- Seek and take advice– even mentors need mentors! One of the reasons I am where I am today is because of the support and advice of others – and despite being a Mentor, I still have one myself. Remain open to learning, it’s a lifelong adventure!
- Have a Strategy– to move your business forward, goals are essential, so decide where you want to be long term, think about how you are going to get there and put some smaller goals in place, measuring and monitoring your progress along the way. A mountain may be huge, but you can only climb one step at a time anyway, and you walk in the footsteps of those who reached the top.
Bernie’s book contains a wealth of business advice, exercises and practical suggestions to help your business succeed and is available now on Amazon Kindle