When Wendy Dean first set up Strategi-hr, it was a HR consultancy specialising in culture change programmes, employee engagement, coaching, learning and development and HR services.

Now, the company is set to become Strategi Solutions Group Limited, employing eight people and providing a new range of services including; HR outsourcing, Marketing and Design Services, the LimeHub App (developed by Wendy herself), business advice and employer branding opportunities.

Wendy has also created various training courses including ‘Why Women Don’t Play Golf’ – a confidence building programme for women. Some delegates were so moved by the guidance they received, they said the programme had ‘changed their lives’, which is a fantastic result for women in business.

With so much going on, and creating a business that has gone from £0 to £163k turnover in 1 year, it’s no surprise that Wendy has been shortlisted for our SME Emerging Business of the Year Award (Midlands).

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

WD: I’ve worked in HR for many years in culture change and employee engagement. I felt that smaller businesses required the same changes but didn’t always have the know how to introduce them, so I set up my business with a view to helping them do this.

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

WD: My first challenge was working out how I was going to replace my HR Director salary with my business consulting fees.

I carefully researched my market and spent a lot of time networking beforehand to be sure that I had enough business to start with.

Another challenge was having to do everything myself – I’d previously had a large team of people working for me – and now I had to become self sufficient. It was quite fun getting back to basics.

My third challenge was knowing when to recruit my first member of staff, and if I could afford it. I realised that you just have to be brave and have the courage of your convictions. There are now 8 of us and we are shortly moving premises. Confidence is key!

Forward Ladies: How did you fund your business?

WD: I didn’t. I’ve worked hard so I don’t have to borrow money, although I was awarded £5k matched funding for my performance management App – LimeHub that I’ve developed. So far this strategy has worked and I only move forward when the business can afford it.

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

WD: Go for it! If you think you can’t do it, you often find that you can. It’s just about looking confident, not necessarily feeling confident. I’ve done many things since setting up the business that I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing when employed. So far, my instincts have served me well.

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

WD: You have to have a network – it’s essential. If you don’t get your name out there you will fail.  Once you’ve got a strong network, your business starts to grow and you’ll find that the more people you know the easier it is to get business.

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

WD: It’s important to get down time, but realistically when you’re setting out, you have to be prepared to put the effort in.

I have some friends who set up businesses but want to work 9am to 5pm, but they don’t realise that growth is dependent upon commitment.

As the business is growing, I’m finding that I can relax more and delegate. I don’t want people to think that I am the business. I have a team of great people around me who are just as competent.

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

WD: At first, you want to do everything for yourself, but finding mentors is really important.  Mentors are not people who want to tell you what to do, but people who really want to help you. Find a good one that you can trust to bounce ideas off and you’ll soon improve what you do.

Forward Ladies: Thank you for your time Wendy, you’ve been great!

Would you like your business and hard work to be recognised, just like Wendy 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!