This week’s Friday Five interview is with life and business coach, Clare Whalley, who set up her business Meta4 Coaching and Training Solutions in 2007.

Clare worked as a sales manager for a large company for several years before setting up her own business; her last five years in her job were very unhappy ,and knowing it was time for a change, Clare visited a life coach. She’d always taken an interest in personal development and this visit gave her the confidence she needed to resign from a well-paid but unfulfilling job, undertake training and set up on her own. She now coaches people who want to change their career, set up their own business or who need more confidence and business skills to meet their goals and grow their existing business.

1. Describe what’s unique about your business?

I guarantee results. I can do this because I’m careful about who I work with. I only work with clients who really want to make a change and are committed to taking action that may take them outside of their comfort zone. The coaching programs are very structured, task orientated and results driven and I need to be confident that my clients are able to work through this challenging process.

2. Have you made any mistakes and what did you learn from them?

Lots! As a small business owner it’s so important to keep evolving, learning new skills and being open to all opportunities. This is my attitude now, but I didn’t always think that way. At the beginning I let a lot of great opportunities pass me by. I didn’t see them as opportunities and didn’t take them up as I thought they might come to nothing. Now, I’m open to everything that comes my way. I see every potential contact, networking event, workshop as an opportunity to investigate as you never know what will come out of it.

3. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting up a business?

Do it! But be well prepared. I’d advise anyone starting up to have 18 months’ worth of funds in the bank. This is how long it can take to set up a business. Spend sparingly, your start-up materials don’t have to be all singing, all dancing. It’s your attitude and self-belief that will get you to where you want to be. Put yourself outside of your comfort zone, if it sounds scary, feels scary, looks scary then it’s worth doing! There is no one magic answer for growing a successful business, so stop looking for one.

4. Have you taken any chances or risks that you feel have really paid off?

Lots. I recently went to an evening event which I tend not to do. I only did it to help out a friend and make up the numbers. I met a contact from my early days in business, who mentioned a company looking for a trainer to work out in Saudi Arabia. My initial reaction was that I didn’t want to work in Saudi. But in the spirit of being open to new ideas I followed it through. It turns out the contract was actually to work in Dubai once a month – I won the contract and will be going out in April. An amazing opportunity!

5. Who have you taken inspiration from?

I aim to surround myself with positive people; I network with like-minded people who inspire me with what they achieve. I love seeing women who are achieving great things, whatever field they’re in. Most recently I’ve found Lizzie Yarnold, Team GB, 1st Sochi Gold a great inspiration. This was what she said after her medal win and I think it sums up self-employment too: “ I believed in myself, I knew I could do it if I put in the hard work and dedication.”