In the next instalment of our Monday Motivation series, we’re talking flexible working. And that means it’s time to get to know one of our co-Founders, Anna Verghese, a little better!
1. Introduce yourself
I’m Anna, wife to Dan and Mum to Izzy, and we live in Maidenhead, Berkshire. I have a BA (Hons.) in French and Russian from the University of Exeter, and an MA in Management with Distinction, from the University of Reading. After 15 years spent largely in Higher Education, I became completely self-employed in 2017. And no, I have never looked back!
2. Tell us about your business
My first business was a definite side-hustle – the result of my qualifying as a Digital Mum back in 2015. Flexible working was both a priority and a necessity as a new Mum, and I had returned to work at a University for three days per week after Izzy was born. Social media was a way of making sure the money kept coming in!
Then in Spring 2017, I started out completely on my own, as that was the only way to secure true flexible working. Isanda Consulting represents my interests as a sole trader, and includes both my social media interests and my business development and growth expertise. This is also still an active business, for now at least!
Then of course there is We Are Tabono Limited, and my partnership with Chloe.
3. Tell us how you got the idea for your business
Chloe and I started off as acquaintances, having met through a networking group. Then eventually we became each others’ clients, and from there, we became friends. One day we decided to meet to discuss whether we should run a half day workshop together, and within the hour, the 12 modules of the Tabono programme was born!
4. Tell us what your motivations are as a small business owner? What made you work for yourself instead of doing the 9-5?
My motivation for becoming self-employed in the first place was becoming a Mum. I wanted to be there for my daughter whenever she needs me, and I’m both proud and lucky to say that I have not missed a Busy Learning Morning or a school event, yet. Apart from the odd meeting when Nana or Daddy step in, I’m there to drop her off, and I’m there to pick her up, snack at the ready!
And following the launch of We Are Tabono, this motivation is stronger still. I want to build something that will make her proud, and show her the power of being a female business owner. I also wish that something like the Tabono programme and the knowledge, support and accountability that it provides, had been available to me when I started out as an entrepreneur. So now it’s our mission to bring it to the masses, and help people break through the barriers to starting a business.
5. What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Am I allowed two things? One is that when you find the thing that you’re passionate about, the hard work comes easy(ish!) – or at least, it doesn’t feel like hard work! The second is the importance of a business partner, or at least a very close support network. Not one of us can possibly do, and be, everything. And I’m lucky that, in Chloe, I’ve found the person that balances me out in terms of strengths, weaknesses, temperament and expertise! We’re the perfect team!
6. What are your top tips for success?
That’s a difficult one! Firstly, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing, and find a real ‘why’ that drives you. For me, my why is my daughter, and my passion is making a difference to people. Then you have to plan. I’m definitely a details person. But also identify your gaps and find ways to fill them. Then you have to review regularly. Without reflecting, it’s impossible to learn from what has already gone by.
7. If you could choose anyone in the world as a business mentor, who would it be and why?
That’s an even harder one! We’re pretty lucky to have two great mentors already – Mike Bourton of Right Stone Consulting and Helen Steel of Streamlion Consulting. Both of them have been fundamental in helping us get as far as we have with the business. But if we could add another – Jacqueline Gold would be amazing. I really respect how much she has achieved, and the effort she puts in to championing women in business is incredible. We were also lucky enough to win her #WOW award on Twitter!
8. If someone was going to play you in a movie, who would it be and why?
Hmm… I’d say Emma Watson. She’s intelligent, very dignified and seems very down to earth.