Keeping Small Businesses Competitive through Sharing Best Practices of Global Leaders


Julie Kay

Julie Kay, of JK Leadership Development, is an executive coach, corporate trainer and team facilitator. She helps you boost profits and performance by bringing out the best in yourself and your team.


1. What prompted you to start your business?

Julie: After serving in the Royal Navy for 21 years, I wanted to be free to make my own decisions, choose my own path, and find out if I could succeed on my own merit.  Do you see a pattern there? It was daunting and exciting, especially as I’d never worked in the private sector or even had anyone close to me who had, never mind run their own business. I’ve found that I love the flexibility, freedom, and variety it brings. I also enjoy being able to choose when to collaborate and with whom. Most of all I value the constant challenges of running my own business because of the person I need to become in order to meet them.

2. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.

Julie: Wow! As a single parent of two boys this is probably going to be 50:50 personal and business.

  • 7:00AM: Spend 20 mins trying to get my 15 yr old out of bed whilst making breakfast and chatting with my 11 yr old before they both go off to school
  • Morning: Either a Skype call with my brilliant VA in Australia or head out to a training venue to deliver a half day workshop or talk. Travel back to my home office. Using the travelling time to make and receive calls, enjoy silence or listen to podcasts.
  • Afternoon: Catch up with social media, write proposals, design products and programmes.
  • 3:15PM: Both kids burst in so I encourage them to come for a walk and talk about their day before I lose them to Facebook, Xbox etc. More online and offline marketing/customer care activity. Eat together.
  • 7:00PM: Work at the laptop again or read a professional book
  • 9:00PM: All watch some TV together. Plan the next day

3. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?


4. What are your tricks for time management?


  • Delegating everything that I don’t love doing or needs me to do it! With the very first cheque I received from a client I employed a cleaner. I haven’t looked back since!
  • Letting go of perfectionism which was in danger of keeping me stuck. I now tell myself to jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.
  • When I don’t know what to do, I make sure I do something. Taking imperfect action creates momentum and gives you feedback so you can make adjustments

5. Best advice received when you started your career?

Julie: I honestly don’t remember receiving any advice or maybe I just didn’t listen. 🙂 However, in the year after I started my business, when my children were only 3 y/o and 15 months, I developed breast cancer which had spread to my Lymph nodes. My husband left the marriage shortly after. The best advice I gave myself at that time related to the business but could just as easily have applied to my personal life. It was “You can either step up or step off, make a decision and commit to it” I stepped up.

6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for building awareness of your work changed for the short-term and long-term?

Julie: My clients are increasingly under pressure, frazzled,  and caught up in fire-fighting. It makes getting their attention more of a challenge. One of the strategies I am focusing on is giving practical, relevant, targeted support in an easy to access form. For example, managers said they loved my free interviews with thought leaders but couldn’t find 45mins to listen. I now record them in 10 min chunks. I’m also about to launch a “5 Minute Manager” online resource.

7. What’s been your proudest achievement as such an immensely accomplished entrepreneur?

Julie: That I am managing it at all! I was painfully shy when I was younger and lacked self-confidence. Even now, 12 yrs into running my own business I sometimes feel unsure and like I am punching above my weight in lots of areas of my life. I take satisfaction in achieving my goals whilst remaining true to myself and my values and maintaining my integrity. Plus I believe it helps others to know that if I can do it, they can too.

8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?


  • Ensuring I get silent time.
  • Getting out into nature which is really easy  living in a beautiful part of the countryside
  • Remembering what I am doing all this for. If what I am doing isn’t supporting my core values then I need to stop doing it.

9. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)


10. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Julie: I would probably take my boys on an African Safari. We all love nature and it would be an opportunity of a lifetime to share the vastness of a beautiful country together and get up close to animals they don’t usually see in their natural habitat. Then, I would invest any left-over money on my continuous development, going to a world class conference or joining an expert mastermind group.

11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Julie: I have run personal development programmes for disadvantaged women including women in prison and rural women who are returning to work. I also contribute to cancer charities when I can.

12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Julie: My father, when he was alive. He epitomized leadership for me. He didn’t talk about it, wouldn’t claim to know anything about it but he lived it. He was a true gentleman who was always fair, honest, trustworthy and highly respected. He was a naturally quiet and modest man but could speak well in public. He was always selected for positions of authority and responsibility and people described him as their anchor or guiding light. He modelled the way for me in terms of authentic leadership

13. What’s your advice to my someone interested in entrepreneurship?

Julie: I meet many people who want to set up in business because they love what they do, which is a great place to start, but it doesn’t end there. They also need to run a business. It’s not enough to think that as long as they are good enough at what they do, the clients will come. I get frustrated when I see coach training organizations in particular, promising a stream of clients beating a path to the new coach’s door without reference to all the other skills needed to attract and keep them. When you understand that approaching this as a business provides the platform for doing what you love, you’ll never look back. Go for it.

To learn more about JK Leadership Development, visit the website by clicking the link below:

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