Exactly 7 years ago, Claire started a new chapter in her life and decided to set up The Busy Queen Bee Limited. She was so determined to make it work, she jumped right in and built up her customer service business from scratch.

Her determination soon paid off which is why she’s shortlisted for our Retail Business of the Year Award (London & The South).

She’s the only Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Isle of Wight provider of unique and tailored customer experience services. Add to that her speed networking events (Speed Buzzing) and her recently published book ‘Thrive with the Hive’ – which has been read in 13 countries and is currently being translated into Korean – you start to understand why Claire is such a busy bee!

Her current focus is to become a keynote speaker so she can inspire a bigger audience. She wants to encourage other ladies to take the leap of faith (as she did) and run their own franchise.

Forward Ladies: How did you come up with the idea for your business?

CBS: I woke up one day and realised that my life just wasn’t working. My husband and I were moving in different directions, I was working 10 – 14 hour days which meant my children were being looked after by an au pair, and it hit me that I wasn’t happy.

I decided to make a lot of changes; I got divorced, I quit my job, and sold my house to set up my new business. I decided to work from home so I could be a caring mum and a successful business woman.

Going back to my actual business idea, it came from something I noticed back in 2008 when I was working at a local hotel. We had monthly mystery guest visits from a UK company, and I realised there was a gap in the market for a similar service but with local knowledge. I knew I was onto something, so I left my job to pursue the idea.

Forward Ladies: What were some of the initial challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

CBS: Starting a business during a recession was a bold move – some people even told me I was mad!

I found that it’s often during such times of adversity that successful businesses rise; especially when they are devoted to helping enterprises to improve their customer service.

The recession actually turned out to be the the perfect time to establish a customer focused business. Looking after and retaining customers was vital during this time. I’m not saying it was easy, especially in 2009 when a lot of the budgets were cut, and companies looked at customer service as an extra cost rather than adding value.

The vision of the business has always been to help businesses to thrive and grow their profitability by providing an exceptional customer experience. If local businesses thrive, so will the local economy.

Forward Ladies: How did you fund your business?

CBS: Going through my divorce meant that I had to sell my house. I used the profit as capital for the business. This investment was to cover my salary, set-up costs, cash flow and ongoing business development costs.

Forward Ladies: What is your top tip for growing your business?

CBS: Living on a small island makes it challenging to grow; there are only so many shops, restaurants and hotels I can Mystery Shop. That’s why I came up with the franchise idea. Everything that I do is transferable,  so if I find the right people with the right attitude, I can teach them everything else.

My most precious tip for growing a business is to follow RAPPORT:

R – Relationship

Everything in life is a relationship. This begins with our relationship with ourself. Our life has a major impact on our business and how we deal with people and relationships everyday.

The average business loses around twenty percent of its customers annually simply by failing to attend to customer relationships.

A – Authenticity

Authenticity is a state of being. It means to know yourself, be honest with yourself (and others), feel comfortable in your own skin, and show parts of yourself that are appropriate to the situation. When we align with our values on a daily basis, we have more energy and feel more fulfilled because we are leading from what’s important to us. When we don’t align with our values, we feel less authentic and become demotivated about our daily lives, which reflects in our leadership.

P – Profit

Being passionate about what you do, doesn’t always mean you’re making money out of it. Ultimately we’re all in business to make some money, otherwise we’d just be doing voluntary work and living on fresh air and love.

The reality is that we have bills to pay, families to feed, and employees who are depending on us to pay their salary. Getting the figures right is so important for the success or failure of your business.

P – Passion

Your work offers nourishment in a number of different ways. When you think about finding work you’ll enjoy, you need to think about the entire experience.

Being proud of what you do and who you work for will enhance your performance. You’ll be more engaged with your external and internal customers, so you’ll work more quickly and efficiently, be more driven to try and promote your organisation and develop your products and services to offer something with real value for the end user.

O – Organised

Being organised will help you in innumerable ways, such as:

* Increasing effectiveness, efficiency and productivity

* Enhancing discipline, creativity and success

* Attracting abundance

* Improving mental clarity and focus

* Reducing stress and helping you to feel more relaxed and peaceful

* Giving space for new projects and creative endeavours to flourish

R – Radiant

People will do business with you if you are sending out the right energy. That first impression you give needs to be one of radiance and warmth. You want to be a radiator.

The radiators have a positive attitude. They inspire us, encourage us, support us and help us to overcome obstacles. We want to be around them because they make us feel good due to their ability to listen. We feel good about ourselves and about the world when we’re in the company of radiators.

The drains have the ability to drag us down and suck the life out of us. They literally drain our energy. Toxic people are often negative about everything. We feel worse about the world and the people within it after spending time in their company. These are the people who don’t listen, who talk and talk and talk without drawing breath. Through their eyes the world is a bad place filled with bad people.

Being radiant is about feeling good about yourself. If you’re sensational, you’ll take people with you because positive behaviour breeds positive behaviour.

T – Trust

People buy people. Whatever you do, people will buy your product or service and do business with you because they like you, trust you and know you are going to do what is right for them. When trust emerges, magic happens.

You’ll find more business advice like this in my book ‘Thrive with the Hive’.

Forward Ladies: Why would you recommend that people build their network and find the support they need to start and grow their business?

CBS: We all want to belong to a tribe and hang out with people we care about. We strive to connect with like-minded people who want to experience and talk about the same things.

These days we need to build our tribe around us more than ever. We need to find people we feel safe with, who we trust and can work with. Networking is your only way to build this circle of trust. As a small business owner it’s crucial to build a tribe around you. It’ll help grow your business, expand your local network, promote lead generation, break down barriers and encourage future collaborations.

Forward Ladies: How do you maintain a work/life balance?

CBS: I set up my business at the time of my divorce, so I could find a good work/life balance.

Setting up my own business enabled me to follow my passion for business and be a good, present mother for my children. The children are now 14 and 18 so it’s a little easier, but when I set up they were 7 and 11 and still needed me to be present. Working from home meant I could answer emails at 1am whilst the kids were asleep, and I could also pick them up from school or go to assemblies which was never an option before.

I feel I’ve been a good role model for them; seeing their mum working all hours to get the business going, but also being able to go to the beach or watch them play football is a great balance.

I wouldn’t do anything differently, setting up on my own was the best decision I had made for my kids and myself.

Forward Ladies: How has mentorship made a difference in your business?

CBS: For the last 3 years I’ve had a business coach. I’ve never really had a mentor as such, but I feel very privileged to be surrounded with a numbers of high flyers, who are always happy to give me some advice here and there.

Forward Ladies: Thank you for your time Claire, it’s been great talking to you!

Would you like your business and hard work to be recognised, just like Claire’s has been? Then apply for one of our prestigious National Women in Business awards, so we can celebrate your success and inspire other women to do the same. There’s nothing we love more than promoting incredible women in business!