Flourishing People

22nd September 2016

Founder: Jacqui Burke

Jacqui Burke’s experience in the world of big business inspired her to strike out with a home business that helps smaller, local firms develop their people to be the best they can be.

Jacqui Burke’s experience in the world of big business inspired her to strike out with a home business that helps smaller, local firms develop their people to be the best they can be.

Jacqui launched Flourishing People, a business development consultancy, from her home in 2001. She has since harnessed her 25 years of training and advisory experience to help smaller companies access consultancy services that may otherwise be out of reach.

FP-Handshake-cropped

“I was a consultant for a large practice where I worked predominantly with large, complex organisations in both public and private sectors”, she says. “However, I wanted to be in the position to work more with small businesses, local charities and other organisations that weren’t able to afford the fees being charged by the large consultancies.”

Like many home-business owners, she had her hesitations about leaving the relative comfort of a large organisation behind. “Finding the first client is always the biggest fear. It felt like stepping blindfolded off a cliff into the unknown. A friend of mine gave me the confidence with an invaluable mantra – ‘you will find work’ – and I just kept believing in that positivity.”

She leveraged her contacts and joined local business support groups to get Flourishing People off to a flying start. “For the first year, I asked everybody one main question: ‘If you were me, and you were starting up a business, who would you talk to?’ People introduced me to their contacts and I went from there.”

For Jacqui, the difficulty for home businesses is keeping up the momentum. “It takes five minutes and not that much thought to register as a sole trader but most people don’t have a clue what to do next.”

My advice is always to start with something that you love

“My advice is always to start with something that you love. When you’re running your own business, you’re doing it and thinking about it 24/7, so it has to be something you’re absolutely passionate about.”

Flourishing People helps its clients take that passion and convert it into teams that build and run successful businesses. With experience working across central government, SMEs and community organisations, Jacqui specialises in leadership skills development and supporting businesses at times of change.

She does all this out of home in Suffolk, which gives her choice: “choice about who I work for; where and when I work; and, importantly, choice about work I don’t have to do.” That said, she does acknowledge the difficulty attached to acting as your own support team on a day-to-day basis.

“I came from a corporate environment where I had an I.T. department to fix a broken laptop and an accounts department to sort out financial issues, she says, “All of a sudden I was doing absolutely everything myself. I wasn’t a great financier or a great IT technician, and I’ve had to learn how to do those things over the years.”

She believes that realistic ambitions have driven the sustainable growth of her business, “It’s about keeping it small and not trying to take over the world. I went through a few years of taking on bigger contracts and trying to recreate the corporate environment I had come from. It felt like the right thing to do at the time, but, looking back, they weren’t the best decisions for my business.”

Jacqui has since applied the tactical brakes and moulded Flourishing People so that it serves its original purpose and earns her a great living, while allowing her to love what she does. “It doesn’t cause me any heartache or over-complications and I’m at a stage in my life where that’s enough for me.”

Visit website

More from stories and advice