Name: Lizzie Benton
Job title: Culture Consultant
Time in current role: 2 years
Lizzie is the founder of culture consultancy Liberty Mind.
Why did you decide to start your business?
I was made redundant quite suddenly and decided to use the redundancy as an opportunity to start my own business. I’d always loved the idea because both of my parents had their own businesses and my siblings also run their own businesses, so it’s always been in the family. I’d gotten very comfortable having a job and knowing I had a good, regular income, but after the redundancy it just felt like a now or never time. I’d enjoyed my job but I was part of the rat race and I was always exhausted and overworked.
The idea for my business stemmed from my love of working with people and wanting to make work a better place for everyone. I’d previously worked as Head of Operations within a company which meant I was responsible for the company culture and the learning and development of my team. I really enjoyed it and the experience became the platform for my business.
Like many people, I also have friends who love their job but hate where they work. One friend phoned me once in tears because she didn’t want to go back to work as it had become such a toxic place. I suppose in my own small way I want to change this. I want to make the workplace somewhere that we enjoy going to and where we feel we can be supported to grow and be our very best selves.
What are the key functions of your role?
As a culture consultant I work with organisations to help them either establish a company culture or improve an existing culture. I work directly with CEOs, founders, HR managers and their teams as you really need everyone on board in order to make any kind of positive impact.
Through my work I help organisations identify the weakest areas of their culture and I work with them to improve and build a strategy that they can continue to manage once I’m gone.
All the work I do is on-site, which is great because I can then get a real feel for the atmosphere and how people are behaving.
I decided to use the redundancy as an opportunity to start my own business
Talk us through your typical working day
My day usually goes as follows:
- Wake up at 6am (sometimes earlier depending on where I’m travelling)
- Yoga for 30 minutes
- Meditation for 10 minutes
- Shower and get dressed
- Eat breakfast (I’m a horrible person if I haven’t eaten breakfast)
- Travel to a client
- Conduct a workshop or consultation
- Lunch break (if I’m local to my office I’ll take a walk at lunch time but I always try to get out at lunch no matter where I am)
- Head back to the office and check emails
- Go for a run or go to the gym
Your favourite part of the job?
Aside from working with people and getting to know them on a personal level, my favourite part of the job has to be bringing people together.
I recently conducted a workshop for a publishing house and afterwards a woman came up to thank me. She was new to the company and the workshop had really helped boost her confidence, develop her understanding of the business and made her feel more like a part of the team.
It was definitely one of those warm, fuzzy moments where you walk away feeling like you’ve done your job well.
When you’re running your own business it’s easy to get caught up in thinking you’re not doing enough or successful enough
…and the part you could do without?
I still get frustrated at the lack of understanding people have around culture. I get told all the time that I just do ‘fluffy stuff’ that doesn’t impact on business results despite there being enough evidence to support the results of culture change.
I’m now very selective about the events I go to and how much time I spend on social media as when you’re running your own business it’s easy to get caught up in thinking you’re not doing enough or successful enough. Comparison is a killer.
How would your clients describe you in three words?
Friendly, vibrant and empathetic.
Plans for the future?
I’m loving what I’m doing so I’m fully sticking to it but there are more areas I’d like to explore around company culture that will have an impact on the future world of work. For example, I’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence will shape our workplace and our roles.
The world and the environment influences how we work so there are more courses I’d like to complete which will help me continue to develop relevant workshops.
Take a break when you need to and celebrate even your smallest wins
Do you have any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be careful whose advice you take. Every one of us is on a different journey and it’s important to find people who understand you and your work.
You’ll meet lots of critics so don’t take it personally.
And last of all, know when to take a break. When you work for yourself it’s easy to feel guilty about having time off or to feel like you should be working on your business 24/7, but nothing will kill your drive and passion like feeling utterly exhausted all the time. Take a break when you need to and celebrate even your smallest wins. LLY