By Zoe Bedford, EO Member and Chief Executive at ZPB Associates
Since I joined EO 5 years ago, my business has grown by 40%, we’ve doubled the number of people we employ, and I’ve had three children.
Founding and running your own business can become pretty all consuming, and when you throw three young children into the mix it can feel like there’s little time for anything else.
When the lion’s share of our time is spent within our own business and market, we can become restricted in our thinking and ambition when it comes to our business and ourselves. And that’s a risk I didn’t want to face.
So, it came at the right time – my introduction to EO. A chance to avoid restriction by spending time with (and learning from) a group of fellow business owners, all in different stages of life, business, careers.
Early on, I realised I had found a way to tap into a constant source of ideas, imagination and challenge.
I’ve been considering what would be different if I hadn’t joined. I can remember exactly how, in many instances, it was an EO experience (a conversation, an interaction, an idea, a contact, an example, a show of support) that started me on a new path or trajectory to realising an ambition that had previously seemed too far-fetched.
There are four goals I’m working towards now that just wouldn’t exist, had I not spent time with fellow business owners and entrepreneurs through EO. None of them are classic business metrics, but all of them are about building value and impact into my business and me as an individual.
1% for the Planet
I learnt about Yvonne Chouinard’s venture to minimise our impact on the planet via an EO member, whose own business has just planted its 1 millionth tree. I am now currently working out how I can introduce this into my own business
How to build social purpose or impact into an established business
I had to learn how to do this, starting with my own business. This has always been important to me, but I have previously been too preoccupied with the short- to medium-term needs of my business to take a step back and consider what our impact and legacy should be. Until now that is.
How and when to take time out of the business
Time out is valuable - and I realised how important it is to do so regularly Through EO I learned smart business habits that allow me to find that time and head-space – without risk to my business growth. An example of how it’s working - I have just (successfully) restructured my business around a value proposition that came to me whilst having a hot chocolate with my 3-year-old!
How to cut the amount of plastics we use as a family
We started earlier this year and so far we’ve reduced the amount being sent to recycling by a third, and about the same amount saved for landfill. Again, this idea was seeded by a conversation with one of my EO peers.
What’s different from previous efforts is that these goals - some personal, some business oriented, but all grounded in values important to me - stand a chance of actually turning into something and being sustainable, as opposed to yet another ‘great idea’. Because in amongst the noise and clamour of a business and a growing young family, I have a network of peers and friends who are quietly encouraging me to pursue them and will hold me accountable.
And, it’s not only the support. Through my time with fellow EO members, I have learned to
Strategise how social good can help not only my business conscience but also our bottom line
Put the right structures (and people) in place and keep them accountable, so that I can focus on the longer-term growth of the business, and the next phase of its evolution
Think bigger, work smarter and enjoy myself on the way!
If you would like to know more about EO feel free to PM me.