Interview with Helen Steel

Tracey - Today, I'm joined by the lovely Helen Steel from Streamline Consulting. Helen is a specialist at helping business owners and start-ups find funding. It's a very interesting subject, particularly in today's climate.  

Helen's been a BBB Success Group member now for 11 months.  

I'm going to give Helen a moment to share who she is and what she does, so you can get a better understanding of her. We're then going to look at Helen's biggest success, the biggest challenge she's overcome, and then that one piece of advice that Helen would give a business owner right now.  

Helen, lovely to have you on here. 

Helen - Thank you. 

I'm, in the simplest terms, a business consultant. I set my business up five and a half years ago to do high value business consulting to companies with turnovers of between 3 and 10 million, so that's what I set out to do.  

In this current time, I've pivoted somewhat, but I think we'll get to that later in our chat. 

So, I've sort of found my niche, but yes, I'm a business consultant. 

Tracey -- This has been a challenging time for a lot of business owners, so what what's been your biggest success over the last while? 

Helen - It has. And my biggest success is pivoting during the crisis, to help start-up companies - sole traders, those individuals that couldn't get funding from the government handouts - to help them find funding. And it's been brilliant. I've been so, so busy! 

It's propelled my business up several notches, but I've also had the absolute reward of being able to help people and have them say, “Helen, without you, my business would've failed. What would I have done without you?” 

It's been so rewarding. I mean, when you get to a certain age and stage in your life and business, you want to do it for the pleasure of it, not just the money, don't you? So, that's been really great. 

 Tracey - I think it's an interesting time. Lots of people have slipped through that gap, as you said, when the rug got pulled out from under a lot of business owners - no grants, no funding, no nothing - so they're in this gap.  

I know you do a lot of stuff around start-ups, and we are looking at this market too, because you've got a lot of people who are evaluating – “is this corporate job the job I really want, now I've spent a bit more time with my family?” 

You've got a lot of people re-evaluating and popping out into potentially setting up businesses. But also, we've got the furlough scheme still in place at the moment, so when that ends, there are going to be a lot more people popping out. And people are being made redundant right now.  

The market is really being flooded with start-up businesses and it's so hard to start a business, especially in this climate. So, any help that they can get right now, I think, is invaluable. It's marvellous, what you've been doing, and I love that you're getting the reward. It's a great pivot, I have to say. 

Helen - There are lots of companies, as you said, that fall between the cracks. You know, they're sole traders, their businesses weren't registered before March, they haven't been able to find funding. 

The scheme I represent has really, really helped them. And you're absolutely right. There are going to be loads of people coming off furlough who've been either made redundant or don't want to go back to work.  

The new furlough that's been proposed by the government is, well, I don't know how they're going to get it to work, to be honest. When the government pays a third and the company pays two thirds, I mean, how's that going to work?  

So, I think there will be a lot of people looking for help with starting up their own businesses. 

Tracey - So, what's been your biggest challenge? 

Helen - The biggest challenge was when I joined BBB Extreme Growth last year, which has been fabulous. I set myself a massive target, of course, as you do with all growth initiative and all growth masterminds.  

I was working with a particular client, doing some high net worth consulting for him. He was due to get a lot of funding in from an investor.  

To cut a long story short, that investor turned out to be fraudulent, so everything that I had forecast for that particular piece of work, and that was going to get me to my wonderful target, fell through.  

So, I had to do something vital at the beginning of the summer, to pivot my business and to change my whole business outlook, so that I could actually bring in the sorts of figures that I had forecast in order to meet my goals.  

I had to do something drastic. I had to toss the eggs out of the one basket and distribute them amongst many baskets. That's what I needed to do. 

Tracey - I have so many things to say about that.  

One is it wasn't a COVID issue. It was something completely different, so that would have happened regardless.  

Two, you've had that on top of all the other challenges to deal with.  

What I love about it the most, though, is you set a big-ass goal, right? Because you joined and that's what we do.  

And it was all lovely in November - no one knew this was coming in December. But what I love about it the most is you did not let that giant challenge get in the way of you achieving your goal.  

What you did is come back, regroup and then work out what will get you to that goal.  

And you've nailed it. The pivot that has happened as a result of that and the reward that you're getting from helping these businesses with the funding - I mean, there's no looking back, is there? 

Helen - No, I mean, there were quite a few very stressful nights and days, thinking, how do I turn this around? But, yeah, absolutely. You can do it, and actually, sometimes these crises make you think of better things to do in the long run anyway.  

So, yeah, absolutely. I'm more stable. I've brought a business that's born from my core capability of helping businesses find funding, so it's made great sense in the long run. 

Tracey - Do you know what? I love it, and I love that message, which is, you can do it.  

So many business owners right now are feeling very challenged about that. Can they do it? Is it viable? And what I'm seeing is they're kind of pulling back and stopping, and if you stop, it's not going to work, you're not going to be successful.  

You've got to keep going, you've got to keep the momentum going, you've got to be open to opportunity and possibility, and I know it's not easy, but the only definite is, if you quit, then it's not going to work. As long as you're in the game, you're in possibility.  

Helen - That's exactly it. I mean, if you're good at something and you know you're good and you know your customers and clients have said you're good, why on earth would you quit?  

Carry on and do it, and just ramp it up and just change your direction - go after a different type of target market, a different type of client - but be confident in the fact that you are doing. 

Tracey - And, you're nailing your goal setting as well, aren't you?  

Helen - I am indeed. I set some pretty hefty goals and we're not there yet, but we're looking good, we're on track. Yes.  

Tracey - It's looking good. Okay, let's not jinx it. I think that's enough said.  

So what's your one piece of advice, Helen, for business owners right now? 

Helen - I've got to say, just believe in yourselves. I mean, there's a reason you set up your business in the first place. If you've got a business plan, if you've got something that you started out with, right at the beginning, go back to it and reread it and just re-absorb why you started to do it in the first place - why did you love your idea? Why did you love your business?  

However hard it is now, there was a reason why you started in the first place. Try to just grab that love and that adoration for your business again and just reinforce the fact that you started your business because you were jolly good at something, and that's what you need to maximize on. 

Go out there and tell people how good you are - put stuff out on social media, contact past clients to get references from them to give you that credibility. Know that you're good and just go for it.  

Don't feel that because everything is crashing down around you, you can't continue to progress and fly high, because as I said, your core skill is what got you started in the first place, so go and boost it. 

Tracey - Do you know what? I love that. And the bit I love the most is about re-falling back in love with your business. Lots of people have fallen out of love with it, because it is just so hard at the moment, but if you can reconnect with that sense of purpose and that sense of knowing that you are genuinely good at what you do - if you can reconnect with that - that's where the possibility sits, that's where the magic sits, so you can build on that. Love it.  

Helen - It's like taking your vows again - take your vows again with your business.  

Tracey - I love that. Take your vows again.  

Helen, fantastic!  

So nice to hear inspiring stories in this current climate. It's been a joy interviewing you today. Thank you so much for taking the time. Really appreciate it.  

Helen - Thank you, and thank you Tracey, BBB, the whole team - it's been brilliant. Thank you. 

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