Interview Spotlight With Sarah Yandell

Sarah is a Leadership Coach and supports ambitious female business owners who want to grow to 7 figures without working crazy hours..  She has over 30 years experience in leadership roles; but more importantly knows what it’s like to grow a 7 figure business herself.  She launched her first business in 2003.  It grew to £8m; turning over £500k within the first year; and was sold in 2012. 

She learnt many skills during that time and had many set backs, which is what drives her to now help other female business owners to achieve this success without making all the mistakes she made on her journey.  As well as supporting female business owners, she is also a volunteer with the Princes Trust working with young adults who have started a business for the first time.


Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Sarah Yandell and I am a Leadership Coach supporting ambitious female business owners. I live in a beautiful village called Dedham on the Essex/Suffolk border and have a background in the travel industry. I love to travel (as opposed to going on holiday!)  and my work in the industry has taken me around the world many times.  Learning about new countries, their history and their people is fascinating and very educational.

Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?

I dropped out of university at 19, and ended up working in hospitality, eventually doing a course in hotel management which led to a number of jobs in the industry.  I moved up the ranks, and was soon responsible for a team.  Moving into sales, I  was responsible for incoming business to the UK which is when my travel began with a visit to a big expo in Berlin in 1989 just as the wall was coming down.

I was then approached by a specialist travel agency to set up a business unit from scratch which grew to a £10m turnover in 5 years. I recruited and developed a team of 15 before taking a year out to do an MBA full time and then launching my own business. The business was a specialist tour operator and grew rapidly.  We struggled through the 2008 downturn but adapted our business model in order to keep going with minimal redundancies; diversifying to new markets and eventually sold the business to a US company.

Since then I  have run a number of other businesses including a florist, an independent travel agency and an outsourcing agency; before realising that my coaching and leadership skills were underutilised and are where my strengths and passions lie.  I now love supporting female business owners on their journey using all of my experience over 30+ years.

Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

Having started with 1-2-1 coaching, I now have a 90 day programme which covers all the skills that business owners need to be able to grow their business to 7 figures.  It includes pre recorded weekly videos, worksheets and 1-2-1 coaching with accountability.  This is called the 7 Figure Accelerator Programme.

Have you ever had a mentor? If so, how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

Yes, I have had a number of mentors over the years in a professional capacity as well as  attending executive leadership coaching.  I continue to work with a number of coaches in different areas of my business.  Accountability is so important when you own your own business

What outlets do you use for marketing?

My preferred Social Media channel is Linkedin and I have a growing number of like minded connections.  I run a monthly interview with other business experts; attend a number of networking groups where I often get presentation opportunities and am doing paid Google advertising.

What or Who has inspired you most recently?

All of my coaching clients are inspirational as are many of the business owners I meet during networking or via Linkedin.  However I was inspired this week by a quote from Amit Ray, an Indian author and spiritualist who said “As more and more artificial intelligence is entering the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter leadership”

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

Gosh that is really hard to name one but if I had to I would say “Know your numbers inside out – don’t rely on your accountant.”

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

It will be a little easier now as my daughter is just off to University and my partner has recently retired!  I am very organised and block my time with monthly goals, weekly achievable objectives and a daily to do list.  I always turn my phone off in the evening.

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

Being recruited by an international student travel company to set up a new department which involved contracting hotels worldwide and setting up booking systems for travel agents globally (in the pre internet era!). My boss saw something in me that I hadn’t see in myself – sheer determination

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

Helping my clients to see a clear path forward, so they can enjoy growing their business but also maintain a balance in their life.

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

Having forged my early career in the 90’s in the travel industry and then doing my MBA in 2000, when we were in the midst of the bubble; I was inspired by Martha Lane Fox who raised a million dollars to launch  Despite the company valuation dropping overnight when the bubble burst, and later being seriously injured in a car crash  she went on to enter the House of Lords as a crossbencher becoming its youngest female member.

How do you define your own success?

To be able to get up every day feeling excited and full of energy for the day ahead.

Finally, what can we expect from you next?

I plan to combine my love of public speaking with my love of travel; so I will be seeking overseas opportunities to spread the word to female business owners on how they can be successful without sacrificing their personal lives.

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