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Interview with Ally Ilott

Tracey - Today, I am joined by the very beautiful Ally Ilott, of Heritage Estate Planning. Ally has been a BBB Success Group member for seven months now.  

We're going to talk about the four things we always talk about. I'm going to give Ally a little bit of time to talk about who she is and what she does. We're then going to talk about Ally's biggest success. We're then going to talk about her biggest challenge, and the one piece of advice that Ally will give to business owners right now.  

So, Ally, welcome. Thank you for coming and spending time with us. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do. 

Ally - I own a company, as you mentioned, called Heritage Estate Planning, and we help people get their wills, their lasting power of attorneys, any trusts, any funeral plans, that kind of thing in place so that their families are protected if the worst happens, in a nutshell. 

Tracey - But you're not a typical will writer, are you? 

Ally - Well, I don't think so. I think I've broken the mould a little bit. I've got a big network of will writers and people that do estate planning. And I think I do handle things a bit differently. The feedback I get from my clients is very much that it's a friendly service. They weren't expecting to actually have fun while writing their will. It seems like a crazy thing to say, doesn't it? But, hopefully, I try and take the fear out of it. I don't talk to people in legal jargon or anything that they don't understand. And usually, people just come away from it thinking, ‘I wish I'd done it years ago!’ 

Tracey - I love that approach because it is quite daunting. Anything around wills and finances, it's quite a daunting subject. It's not most people's area of expertise.  

And let's be honest. It doesn't feel like a fun process. It's one of those things that you know you need to do it and it's not until you hear a really shit story that resonates that you suddenly think, okay, I probably need to pull my finger out.  

So, I love the idea of having some fun doing it. I love that you take the jargon out because that is so important. So many people are blinded by jargon and they just need to be spoken to in normal language that they understand. And I particularly like your new branding - very funky. 

Ally - Oh, thank you. I feel it encapsulates that whole thing really, and it's not too formal, and it hopefully makes people realize that we're warm, and people, at the end of the day. 

Tracey  - So Ally, what's your biggest success? 

Ally - Wow, I had to really think about this because there have been lots of things that have happened over the last year, but I suppose the biggest one is that this is my best ever year in business, in terms of turnover, and we're in the middle of COVID, so I would never have thought in a million years that this would end up being the best year, but it really has. And within that year, as well, we've celebrated my office manager's first anniversary. So, I've got a member of staff that I've had for a whole year. That made me feel really quite successful as well. So yeah, it's just been a really interesting and good year from a business perspective, weirdly. 

Tracey - Well, you say weirdly, and it is weird because the climate's weird, so no one could have predicted what has happened. And for many business owners it's been really damaging.  

But what isn't weird about your results, from someone that's been working with business owners for 10 years, is you consistently show up; you show up to everything, you consume everything, you implement, you keep showing up and you keep showing up.  

And what I see time and time again, is that consistent aligned focus. If there was a magic pill, that would be it; consistent, aligned focus and action that is taken in alignment with that focus. And you do that in spades. You’ve really stood out in terms of that consistent focus and the showing up.  

So, whilst you think it's weird, I don't actually. From the outside, your success is absolutely in alignment with the focus and the effort that you've put in. So, seriously well done.  

Obviously, this year has not been all light and joy. So, what's been your biggest challenge? 

 Ally - Okay, well obviously, like everyone, lockdown – COVID – that's been huge. So, overnight, I've had to take my business from being completely face-to-face, in people's homes, usually, to learning how to use Zoom and Teams and all of those things. I'd never used any of these things before. So that was almost a ‘learn this overnight so that I can keep my business going.’  

At the same time as all of this upheaval and COVID, I discovered you guys, but at the beginning, luckily for me - that's how I see it anyway - right at the beginning of the pandemic I've got BBB and I've got you guys. And that really, genuinely, got me through, because all of a sudden, I've got this community of like-minded, inspirational people that have got your back. You can sound them out with ideas and they just keep you going and keep your energy high. I've had to literally change everything overnight, but with the most amazing support. And I home-schooled a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. I'm just going to get that in there. 

 

Tracey - You slide that in. That’s no mean feat in the middle of what you've achieved. I love that.  

And it's interesting. So, just like you, we've had to suddenly work out how the hell we deliver everything online. I mean, it's been a huge learning curve, but you're right. What's been lovely about it is we're all in it together. Everyone's trying to learn how to make it work, we're all trying to improve our services, we can leverage each other's mistakes and the resources to do that.  

And for many of us it's opened up a huge opportunity. So, rather than it being the detrimental thing that we thought perhaps it was going to be, it has literally opened doors that we didn't think were possible before.  

For you, I remember you saying, you thought everyone needed someone in their home in order to do a will, and obviously that's just not the case. And in many cases, they don't even want you in their home to do the will, they'd much rather do it online. So, it's been such an interesting year on so many levels. We've all learned a lot about ourselves, I think. 

Ally - Yes, it's been character building Tracey, that's right. 

 

Tracey - Well, we call it entrepreneurial conditioning. It's all that stuff that you have to go through in order to run a successful business. And we've had some very concentrated entrepreneurial conditioning this year, that's for sure.  

George shared a figure with me about what it's been like as a business owner during this period. And I can't remember how he said it, because he said it much more articulately than I'm about to, but we’ve basically had five years of transition and evolution condensed into 12 months. And I feel that, that makes sense to me.  

If I think about where our business is now, and where it was in January, it's like night and day. So, five years condensed into 12 months, which is probably why a lot of us are feeling a bit frazzled and desperate for a bit of a Christmas break, to be honest.  

 

Ally - That has really resonated, actually. And it is true, isn't it? Because if you think about it, for so many people, lots has come out of this whereas before companies were saying, you can't work from home and there isn't the flexibility. And actually, it's had to work, hasn't it?  

So, it's changed the course of business and the way business is done, massively. I think we've probably sprung forward many, many years in terms of those types of advancements, anyway. 

 Tracey - I agree. So, what is the one piece of advice that you would give business owners right now? 

 

Ally - I think, for me, the thing that gets me through is having a really positive mental attitude. And more than that, I suppose, being flexible and open-minded at the same time to just be aware of the opportunities that there are, rather than seeing all the hurdles that are in your way, because there are always going to be hurdles.  

Actually, if you can see past that, you just feel more positive and more able to tackle things when they do come up. And, I suppose, ‘be the change that you want to see in the world.’ Don't sit there moaning about all the stuff that's wrong. Do something about it. Be the change that you want to see and surround yourself with people that fill your cup up and don’t zap all your energy.  

So that is a big thing. If you want to thrive in business, surround yourself with people who are doing great business, not people that are just moaning about everything being against them. That, for me, is the biggest thing. 

 Tracey - I bloody love that. And what I love about it most is you epitomised exactly what you've just said. So an absolutely superb piece of advice. Well done, Ally.  

It's been an absolute pleasure and joy to talk to you. I knew this was going to be fun and it was. So, thank you very much for taking the time today. I really appreciate it. 

 If you want to talk about your business, book a call with Tracey.


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