Originally trained as a food scientist, Julie moved into technical sales in the dairy industry after her first redundancy in the food industry. When the second round of redundancy hit in 2005, she became disillusioned with working in the sector and toyed with the idea of becoming her own boss, but meanwhile she put her CV on a job site.

"I received a call out of the blue from a business coaching firm called ActionCOACH. They'd found my CV online and, honestly, I wondered if it was a con as it sounded too good to be true. If I could become my own boss and help other business owners then I thought it could be my perfect fit. I love learning and developing myself and this was a large part of the franchise model.

"I borrowed some money from my dad, added that to my savings and at 28 years old, I became my own boss. It was a year where I took several leaps of faith in quick succession. Having signed the franchise agreement, I took another leap - onto a flight to Las Vegas for initial training at ActionCOACH University. At this point, I still wasn't quite sure if anyone would meet me when I got off that plane!

"It was a shock to the system when we landed - ActionCOACH was very real... the training experience was also very intense. I was the only female and by far the youngest in the group of 21 new franchise partners from around the world. During those 10 days I learned a lot about myself but with a lot of more experienced businessmen in the mix, I did start to doubt my abilities and it led to me developing some limiting beliefs about myself."

The risks of not taking action

Julie came back to the UK to launch her business and did not follow the system ActionCOACH had recommended; something she reflects on with perfect clarity.

"I would book into networking breakfast meetings and then stay in bed. I thought no one was going to listen to a young woman with no business experience, so I didn't really try. I was about three weeks from broke when I thought I would lose my house and was terrified at the thought of telling my Dad I'd lost all the money he'd lent me. That's when I decided to get my act together.

"It was January 2006 and I reached out to one of the top Action Coaches in the UK to ask for help. He showed me how to work the phones to generate interest in my services which was the primary source of new business back then.

"In my first month I secured one client, in month two I secured another two clients, then four clients in month three, then nine clients in the fourth month after having decided to take massive action! By May 2006, my prospect to-client conversion rate had hit 87 per cent - an ActionCOACH UK record. Incidentally, my record of nine new clients in one month has only just been matched during summer 2020 by Action Coaches Ian Harford and Matt Bull - a fantastic result and a testament to the support we're giving our local communities over the pandemic."

Julie first met Ian Christelow at the October 2006 UK franchise conference. She knew he was a master licensee for three ActionCOACH regions and they ended up talking about purchasing the London region as a 50:50 partnership.

"Three days later, I sent him the plan. By the December, Ian and I had agreed to a million-pound investment to develop ActionCOACH in the London region. Two years later we bought another region and continued that approach every couple of years, acquiring master regions as they became available or as our offers were accepted."

Recognition of action

"As I once lived and breathed being an Action Coach, this has helped us shape the business. We've implemented additional support for any areas I felt were challenging as a franchise partner. The recognition for this support has been incredible - we've won 12 years running ActionCOACH's Global Team of the Year. This is based on average income of coaches in each country and net growth of the coaching team, so to stay at the top of 80 countries around the world is amazing. We're also one of just 4 franchises to receive a 5-Star Franchisee Satisfaction rating 8 times by the independent WorkBuzz survey, winning Best B2B Franchise for the last two years and prior to that ActionCOACH also achieved three consecutive wins for the UK's Best Mid-Priced Franchise at the Best Franchise Awards.

"Of course, I love the recognition but the biggest reward for me is to see the difference our coaches are making in their communities. The challenges of 2020 have been felt by every business owner in the UK and I'm proud to see how our Action Coaches have come together to freely offer support and guidance to thousands of businesses across Britain. That's resulted in a multitude of personal bests for our coaches including new business, client retention and monthly income records, even for those who have had ActionCOACH businesses for over a decade.

"And while ActionCOACH UK has a record number of clients, we welcomed eight new franchise partners and eight new employee business coaches on training in October. I stepped up to Managing Director in January 2020 to drive the business forward, knowing we'd soon need to concentrate almost entirely on supporting our team of franchise partners rather than recruiting them.

When the pandemic hit the UK, I initially thought our plans would be scuppered but when you take action, the results follow. I couldn't be prouder of how the team has taken massive action and made a difference to so many people's lives, including mine."

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