IN CONVERSATION: Alison Edgar
One of the great things as founder of Studio10 is the number of strong and empowering women I get to meet along the way, and Alison Edgar sits right up there! Founder of Sales Coaching Solutions, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother, bestselling author, worldwide conference and events speaker, and with an MBE awarded for services to Entrepreneurship and Business, Alison is a truly inspirational woman. I was lucky enough to catch up with her recently to talk about her new book, and how her successful sales methods have pioneered change for some of the world’s leading industries, as well as her passion for helping entrepreneurs to develop their business.
First of all, huge congratulations on the publication of your new book Smash It! The Art of Getting What YOU Want. Can you give us a glimpse into what the reader can expect?
SMASH IT! The Art of Getting What YOU Want is my second book and it’s all about YOU. So many people, especially through the pandemic, have lost vital motivation and momentum towards achieving their goals. I see it as my mission to pick them up, dust them off and give them the skills to move forward to get what they want. The book combines practical psychology with the internals of personal development and a few anecdotes and case studies sprinkled in. It’s the perfect motivational tool to help you hit your goals.
Your first bestselling book, Secrets of Successful Sales, is aimed at the sales business sector – is Smash It! a follow-up book for the industry, or is this a guide for anyone to realise their dreams and goals?
SMASH IT! is written for anyone who wants to achieve something! From Matt the 19 year old retail assistant who wants a promotion to Jessica the sales executive who is looking to start her own business. I wanted to write a book that could help anyone hit their goals no matter what they may be – I’ve used the tips inside the book to smash business goals, lose 50 pounds and hit various other personal goals!
Do you think there’s a natural tendency to believe ‘I can’t’ before we believe ‘I can’?
I do - I think this is completely down to fixed mindsets and our ‘fight, flight or freeze’ instinct. In life we tend to take the path of least resistance. Being pushed out of your comfort zone can be daunting so some people choose to avoid it and this usually tends to be because we are scared of failure and in situations where we feel vulnerable. People with fixed mindsets will flee or freeze, whereas someone with a growth mindset will fight the natural urge and get what they want. I explain more about this in my new book!
How has your own life experience shaped the philosophy behind Smash It!?
Without bragging, I’ve always seemed to get what I want. Whether that’s in my personal life or at work. It’s hard to sit down and think about why on earth that is. Why do I get what I want more often than not? It was a hard slog to get that information out of my head, but once I started thinking about my experiences, it was easier to tell the wee stories and dissect them afterwards. In my book I talk about my own personal struggles with childbirth, weight loss and much more.
Can you tell us a little about The Entrepreneur’s Godmother and how it all began?
We have to go back even further than the beginning of The Entrepreneur’s Godmother actually. I was working for a huge corporation and I was a high-flyer, but there was a big transition going on and our vision no longer aligned. One of my friends told me that I should start my own business and teach people to sell the way that I sell. At first I thought she was nuts, but after carefully considering it, I knew I had to get out of my role. Why not give it a punt?
Initially I worked part-time alongside starting my sales training company, Sales Coaching Solutions, but when work really started to pick up due to the Growth Voucher scheme, I incorporated my business in 2014 and never looked back.
The brilliant Growth Voucher scheme helped small businesses get their sales off the ground, but when that came to an end, start-up companies were left to fend for themselves. It was at this point I came across a statistic that “90% of start-up businesses fail”. I thought – not on my watch! I have to do something about this!
That’s when I became The Entrepreneur’s Godmother. I forged a name for myself helping start-up businesses to sell. I ran workshops, coaching sessions and training for a low cost. It was a hard slog, but it was absolutely worth it to see all of those small businesses thriving. When you help a small business, you’re not funding another Range Rover or investment for a multinational CEO, you’re funding dance lessons for a little girl or a small business owners’ mortgage. That’s what makes my heart sing.
As the pandemic recedes, what are the greatest challenges that lie ahead for the small and medium size enterprises for recovery?
I think the main challenges will surround confidence and momentum. It’s been a long year and a half and so many people will have lost that ‘get up and go’, so I think that will be a huge challenge. I also think a lot of businesses will be running at a lower capacity due to lost revenue and lost staff members and this will have a knock on effect on sales and customer service.
With over 30 years’ experience in the business sector, what are the greatest changes you’ve seen – particularly for women – and do you think we are finally beginning to see more successful female entrepreneurs emerge with growing gender equality in the workplace?
For me, I think there have been some huge changes for women in regard to the gender pay gap, but I think there’s still some big strides to be made. I think there will always be some kind of bias towards men, as women will always be the ones to bear children and it’s no mean feat raising children and running a business, but I do think the attitude towards raising kids has definitely changed in business and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Hardest challenge you’ve had to face?
I was diagnosed with dyslexia quite late in life, but it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I can still taste the bile in my mouth when I think back to being asked to read a chapter aloud in English class. I honestly thought I was just a bit thick throughout my life, but it wasn’t until my optician suggested I tested for dyslexia that I realised I had a genuine condition. So you can imagine how hard it is as a dyslexic writing two books, but I had to get my teachings out there.
So many people struggle and don’t have the funds to access training, whether that’s in business or personal development. I believe everybody should be able to access it – no matter how much money they make. That’s why I made it my mission to write these books. Sometimes my co-conspirator, Kiya, had to tie me to a chair to get me to sit down and write, and there were oh so many tears, but it’s absolutely been worth it.
Your proudest achievement?
It has to be receiving my MBE. I never expected any kind of recognition for the work I’ve done to help small businesses, schools and individuals all around the UK and beyond, but honestly that overwhelming feeling of pride was unbelievable. I haven’t been to my inauguration yet, but when I do, I don’t think I’ll stop crying!
Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
I get asked this fairly often, and most people expect me to say some high-flying entrepreneur, but actually my greatest inspiration is my team!
I grew up in a high-rise flat in Clydebank. I didn’t come from any kind of privilege and despite my shortcomings I still managed to make it to where I am today. My team are all from similar backgrounds to myself. They’re all very young, have previously suffered with mental health problems and left school early just like me. They showed a huge amount of courage to apply for the roles with me, despite a lack of formal qualifications. They show incredible passion and ambition every day, and always strive for more. That’s why they’re my inspiration.
Top beauty ‘must have’ in your makeup bag?
Pink lipstick – always!
Desert Island disc, book and luxury item?
Take That – Greatest Day. This track is part of my mantra. I believe everyone should think like this – that every day this could be the greatest day of your life!
One Day by David Nicholls. I struggle to read business books because of dyslexia. This book covers the story of two people every year on St Swithin's Day. It’s one of those feel good classics for me, and each year on St Swithin's Day I think of this book.
A lovely bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It has to be! It’s my absolute go to.
And finally, what would your motto be?
You can’t stress about the things you can’t control. This is something my husband Neil said to me a few years back and it really stuck with me. Every time I am stressing about something out of my control I remind myself of this mantra; although it doesn’t fix the issue, it helps me to relax. I’d encourage everyone to think like Mr Edgar!