Life as an entrepreneur, whilst often rewarding, can also be demanding and isolating. Add into that other pressures, such as those at home, and things can sometimes feel overwhelming. During Global Entrepreneurship Week NatWest Cymru is hosting a Women In Business event aimed at helping participants find happiness and balance. Business News Wales talks to Lianne Weaver, managing director of Beam Development and Training, about her journey to finding her own balance, and the tools and techniques she will be focusing on during the event.
You say your mission is “to help people feel happier and healthier”. How do you go about doing this?
I meet a large number of people on a weekly basis, whether during 1-2-1 therapy sessions, corporate wellbeing training or at speaking events. So many people I meet feel that ‘this is as good as it gets’, that they may have fleeting moments of happiness but generally ‘life is hard’. I also meet people who, even as young as in their mid twenties, seem to generally accept that they are getting older and therefore are less likely to be healthy.
I do not agree with any of that. I believe that we have the power and control to choose how happy and healthy we want to be. Of course, our circumstances will have an impact upon our happiness and our health, but by helping people to focus on the things they can control it enables them to make positive choices.
I use a variety of tools and techniques which I have been using for years – not only to help others, but also to help myself.
Do you find many people need help with this?
What I do is not limited to a certain demographic of people. We all have mental health, just as we have physical health. Sometimes we are super healthy, feeling strong and capable and other times we are low and in need of support. I have helped children as young as six and adults as old as 90.
One of the best things any of us can do for ourselves is to make our mental health a priority and do something for it every single day, just like we brush our teeth or drink water to care for our body.
What’s your background? Have you always been a therapist?
Gosh no, my background is really varied. I studied Educational Psychology at Cardiff University which is where I got my initial thirst for understanding how and why we do the things that we do. I then went on to do a postgraduate qualification in Human Resource Management and really enjoyed working within HR. However, when I became pregnant I realised quickly that I wanted to be as hands on as I could be as a mum, so I left my career and began doing any jobs I could from home to try to make ends meet. I did charity fundraising, sold candles, made craft items … you name it I probably tried it.
As my daughter became a little older I realised it was really difficult to go back into a HR career with so much time away – legislation changed a lot in five years. So I took the ‘sensible’ decision to retrain and started with a bookkeeping qualification, then several, which led onto an Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification. I set up a bookkeeping and accountancy practice but I had this gnawing feeling that I was not doing the right thing for me. I loved helping clients and would often take on different problems they had and help them find solutions, or just be an ear to listen to them, but the actual accountancy work never excited me.
One day, I realised I had totally lost who I was and I was really unhappy, so I made lots of huge changes in my life. One was to reconnect with things I loved. I began studying new therapies, reading a lot, going on courses and within a few years set up as a holistic therapist. My business has changed greatly since then but I know for sure that I am now doing what I am meant to do.
How much of a difference can you help people to make to their lives?
I have been fortunate to help people make some huge changes in their lives over the time we work together. I have helped suicidal people see their worth and value, I have given extremely anxious people tools to help them build and develop their confidence. One of the most rewarding experiences I have had is helping a young child who had developed an extreme nervous tic. After an hour and a half of talking with him and understanding what was going on, his tic stopped and has never reappeared.
Is there one common thing you find people need help with most?
I think we can all get lost sometimes and it can become difficult for us to know how to change things when we feel like that. When I realised I was unhappy, it would have been easier to stay unhappy. It takes a lot of courage to admit it and even more courage to make a change. I like to think I help people find that courage so that they too can feel happier and healthier.
You’ve run your own business for many years. What are the pressures facing entrepreneurs?
I’ve spent most of my adult life self-employed and whilst I have had some employed positions, to me self employment is my normal. However, it is so challenging in so many ways. Being self-employed with a young daughter was a huge challenge, feeling that I wanted to commit everything to getting my business going, creating plans, having ideas and then my daughter would be sick or there would be school holidays and I would have to take time off. When I returned to work, it would feel like starting all over again.
One thing I have certainly learned over the years is that there is a huge difference between hard work and working hard. When I ran an accountancy practice, it was very hard work. I felt like I was always running uphill, knocking on doors, almost getting there and then things changed. It was exhausting. Once I changed careers and set up Beam, I saw there was a huge difference. I work really hard, often do long hours, I have gone to help clients on a weekend, I have taken urgent messages and emails at all hours of the day. However despite working hard, I’ve noticed the difference. Whenever I feel like it’s become hard work, I actually step back and take a break from what I am doing.
As entrepreneurs we may not be great at doing that and may feel we have to keep on pushing, but it’s my experience that we need to have down time and take care of our mental health even more, especially if we work alone.
What sort of tools and techniques can help with these pressures?
All of my training courses provide delegates with a huge number of tools and techniques to help them deal with a wide variety of stresses and pressures. I use so many different techniques personally depending on how life is going, from ensuring I do deep breathing from time to time during the day, to making sure I take regular recovery periods, to talking to a therapist.
Can anyone benefit from the techniques you teach – whether employed, self-employed or not working, parents or not parents?
Absolutely! None of what I teach is specific to any group of people. This works for everyone. Whenever I teach a group, I always tell them that I will be giving them lots of different tools, techniques and tips, not so that they use all of them, but so that they can pick a few that resonate with them.
You can hear Lianne Weaver speak at NatWest Cymru’s free Women in Business event, Happiness & Balance – Without The Guilt, which will be held in Cardiff on Thursday November 15.