Interview with Fiona Walsh
“Surround yourself with positive people who will support you, and don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t go to for advice!.” – Fiona Walsh
Today we feature Fiona Walsh, the founder at Imagine Coaching. We hear their story in their own words, their successes, their challenges and their insights.
Let’s start by getting to know you. Can you please tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
I’m a PowerPoint Specialist, and I help businesses to present better. I have a training background, and I train people to use PowerPoint to create professional-looking slides fast.
If a company wants to outsource, I will create slides for them. I studied Chemistry at Coventry University and moved to Ireland in 1999, as there were very jobs in science at that time.
I got my first job working as a development chemist in the Cosmetics industry. After five years in this role, I was asked to help implement a new IT system. Part of this role was to train staff in the new system. I attended a day-long ‘Train the trainer’ course and launched straight into training.
I needed to improve upon the training plan, so I signed up for a year-long IT Teacher Training Diploma. I then went on to become a Microsoft Office Specialist and trained staff in Microsoft applications too.
I thought about starting my own business back in 2014 when I was made redundant, but it wasn’t the right time for me.
I started an Executive and Life Coaching Diploma in 2019 and soon realised that I wanted to start my own business. I set up Imagine Coaching, initially as a Life Coach.
A great introduction and start to this interview. Can you please tell us, how did you start, from what age, and what made you decide to change direction and start?
During the first lockdown, I pivoted to help businesses with PowerPoint, as everything moved online due to the pandemic. I’d been working for a pharmaceutical company and had worked from home since the pandemic began.
The flexibility of working from home allowed me to build my business to the point where I could give up my job and focus on PowerPoint full-time. PowerPoint is a fantastic tool. I often have trainees’ comment that within the first five or ten minutes what they have learned is a game-changer, making my job worthwhile.
Thank you for that insight. So can you tell us…What does your business do and where is your company based?
I provide customised PowerPoint training for businesses using their PowerPoint templates and slides. I also create presentations for companies who wish to outsource. I am based in Cork, Ireland, and offer my services to Ireland and UK businesses.
What’s the story behind your success? What led to your aha moment? how did you get to where you are now?
I was providing business coaching to a client and it turned out her biggest issue was to create a PowerPoint presentation for an upcoming sales webinar. She was a therapist and had been hands-on prior to Covid.
As a certified Microsoft Master Instructor, I offered her support and then realised that other business owners might be struggling with PowerPoint too.
I’ve had a lot of support from my husband who ran a family business for over 20 years. It’s really important to surround yourself with positive people, especially other business owners.
Thank you for sharing that. What’s been your life’s biggest lesson so far?
I started my business whilst I was employed. I told my employer out of courtesy, and the response I received was unfavourable and stated a conflict of interest. The company was in the process of being taken over by a large multinational. They told me they would come back to me after consulting with the new owners, but they never did.
I put my business on hold and didn’t have a launch. After a few months, I started posting on LinkedIn about the services, and my employer never did follow up.
If this situation happened again, I would be more assertive and argue that there was no conflict of interest.
I regret not having had an official launch for my business, so instead, I’ll celebrate my business anniversary when Covid lockdowns are over!
I wish I had known the importance of networking and how important is it to go outside of my comfort zone. I organise at least two 1-2-1s a week, sometimes with new contacts, other times with existing contacts. The purpose of these is to get to know each other, it’s not about trying to sell my services. I approach these meetings with a ‘how can I help this person’ attitude. I often put people in contact who could help each other and I find that this is reciprocated!
If you were to go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
In true Nike style, Just Do It!
My family have always been very supportive. My husband managed his family business which ceased trading 15 years ago. He has always been very supportive and encourages me to go outside of my comfort zone.
I think it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people. If you have friends who aren’t supportive, limit your interaction with them or make it clear that your business is not a topic for conversation.
We’re nearly halfway through our interview so it’s a great time to ask how does your business run. What three tools make your business run better?
I use Calendly to integrate my booking system with my Outlook calendar. This allows people to book a discovery call with me without playing email ping pong to arrange a date!
I use Subly for adding captioning to my training videos. It’s a great tool that has some cool features, for example, you can ‘replace all’ for words that are picked up incorrectly. I find it much easier and quicker to work with than other similar tools I have used.
Finally, I use PowerPoint for all my social media content. Did you know you can change the size of a PowerPoint slide to create anything, from a LinkedIn header to a Twitter post? It’s really handy. Microsoft has some brilliant free stock images and stock videos, too.
What do you know now that you wished you had known before?
I wish I had known the importance of networking and how important is it to go outside of my comfort zone. I organise at least two 1-2-1s a week, sometimes with new contacts, other times with existing contacts.
The purpose of these is to get to know each other, it’s not about trying to sell my services. I approach these meetings with a ‘how can I help this person’ attitude. I often put people in contact who could help each other and I find that this is reciprocated!
What has been your greatest or proudest achievement or moment?
My proudest moment so far was to achieve All Ireland Business Foundation accreditation as PowerPoint Thought Leader. The accreditation process involved a series of interviews where my business processes were questioned and scrutinised. The process helped me to gain clarity on my future goals and I learnt a lot during the process.
What future life goals do you want to achieve and why?
I set up my business in order to have more flexibility in my life. I would like to grow my business and outsource key areas so that I have more time for myself and family.
To finish our inspire questions…”We believe that sharing inspiring words can inspire others.” If there was one positive thing you would say to someone to inspire and empower them what would it be and why?
Surround yourself with positive people who will support you, and don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t go to for advice!
“Thank you it has been great learning more about your founder story and Imagine Coaching”
To learn more about Imagine Coaching Visit https://imaginecoaching.ie/
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