Interview with Shweta Jhajharia

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Shweta Jhajharia MBA is a business coach specialising in growth. She has been ranked ActionCOACH London’s Coach of the Year consecutively for the last eight years, was the first woman in the world to be given the “Diamond Level of Excellence” award from ActionCOACH, and this year won the Global Best Client Results Award and the UK’s Coach of the Year Award.

We asked Shweta for her insights for business owners and leaders:

Could you tell us about yourself and your work?

I come from a non-descript rural town in India, completed my MBA at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)and then worked at Unilever for over 8 years across Asia and Europe, which really helped develop my understanding of what makes people perform.

I left a high profile corporate role to start my own business within ActionCOACH and applied the same principles that had created success for me over my previous career.

What do you currently see as key challenges for business owners?

I find most business owners seem challenged when it comes to building a team. Many entrepreneurs – women especially – feel pressure to struggle and achieve everything themselves. However, building a team is one of the most effective ways to grow. When you put in some effort to find good, hardworking people, and to help them succeed, you find your own opportunities grow manifold.

Brexit will present unique challenges over the next few years. Pressure on business owners will come from depreciating currency, possible inflation, adverse movements of asset prices and labour market pressures.

However, I believe the primary pressure will come from negotiations with the bigger players – so business owners will need to sharpen their negotiation skills and be ready to challenge ‘The Brexit Excuse’.

In the end, commercial prudence will prevail over instinctive reaction. SME owners who thrive in the uncertain environment will be those who have the financial literacy to understand what is happening in their business right now, who are constantly reviewing margins, tapping into a wider talent pool and focusing on ways to increase their pipeline. The owners who are developing their skills and competencies to manage their business closely and negotiate with the bigger clients are those who will face the challenges with surety.

In your view, what are the most important aspects of business strategy?

One of the major distinctions is the difference between “strategy” and “tactics”. There are countless blog articles and books giving all the strategies for building and running a good business. However, it is on the tactics that we focus – the actual use of strategies within the business. That’s where we really help business owners.

There are 6 main aspects of business strategy that need to be addressed:

Mindset: how the business owner is thinking – not just about the business, but about themselves. Are they practicing the right habits to set themselves up for success?

Mastery and Mission: creating the right foundation, making sure business owners have the knowledge required for their business and ensuring there are clear goals in place, with an accompanying action plan to achieve them.

Money: all about marketing and sales. No matter how good, relevant and useful the product or service, if you do not have effective marketing and sales strategies, the longevity of the business is at risk.

Management: sourcing the right talent, keeping that team engaged, and learning how to create an environment where both your business and those individuals can grow together.

Team management is where many business owners are making huge mistakes that can be fixed easily to produce massive results.

Methodology: understanding what parts of the business can be packaged and systemised so owners can get the leverage required to take their small business that they work in up to a big business that they work on. This is critical for businesses that are successful but struggling to reach the next level.

6Ms: Strategic Thinking and Execution
Importantly these 6 aspects are split into two sides – strategic thinking (Mindset, Mastery, Mission) and execution (Money, Management, Methodology). Some businesses are great with strategic thinking and need more help with execution, others have great execution skills and require more strategic thinking to best direct their actions.


So not every business needs to focus on all 6 parts – and it’s essential that business owners choose the right place to focus their efforts.

How do you support businesses to develop high performance teams?

There are two main components – recruitment and management.

Sourcing the right talent is essential, and most business owners are afraid of the time commitment required. We have developed a 4-hour recruitment process that requires literally 4 hours and usually produces the best person for the job.

Management is slightly more complicated, but usually quite easily improved. It’s about tactics, not strategy. The exercises I do with a client are designed to not only work out the problems with the team members, but also the issues involved with how that business owner manages their team. Then we review strategies relevant to their style, their team, and the team they need.

Every business and business owner has their own nuances that need to be addressed when it comes to managing a superstar team.

What key pieces of advice do you give to leaders?

Make sure you set your own targets and goals. When you let others set the tone for you, your achievement level can be massively limited.

My personal motto is “Goals are dreams with deadlines” – I am a believer that hard work and trust in your abilities makes a difference. I think that dedication to focusing on my goals and keeping strict timelines for myself is a trait that has contributed to my business’ success, my clients’ success, and to the success of having an active and present role in my son’s life.

Don’t try and do everything yourself and learn everything independently. Reach out to people who are willing to help you – a successful business is rarely a single person’s effort, it usually takes a whole village of experts, mentors, and team members.

For more thoughts from Shweta, click here to pre-order her new book Sparks, Ideas to ignite your business growth.

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Shweta Jhajharia is a multi-award-winning business coach, recognised both by external bodies and industry awards panels as one of the top coaches in the UK.
She was Global Marketing Manager with Unilever for 9 years before joining ActionCOACH and founding The London Coaching Group in 2008.

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Shweta draws upon this experience to not only lead her clients to better profitability, but also enhance the long-term asset value of their business.

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