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Inspirational Women Q&A: Liz Hardwick, DigiEnable

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Liz Hardwick is a professional speaker, trainer and productivity specialist and co-founder of DigiEnable, a multi-award-winning training company with a focus on digital and productivity. As well as many awards for the business, Liz has won several awards in recognition of her role as a professional speaker and she shares her own inspirational Lancashire woman in business story.

What does your business do?

DigiEnable offers a wide range of courses, workshops, coaching and consultancy options to businesses wanting to grow through a better use of technology. I have over 15 years of experience supporting businesses, business support programmes and the third sector, to make better use of technology when supporting their teams, developing their business processes and engaging their existing and prospective clients.

Over the last 10 years of the business, DigiEnable has been recognised for a number of awards, most recently the finalists for Creative Business of the Year 2019 in the Downtown in Business awards, and recognised in Business Cloud’s list of North West Top 251 Tech Firms 2019.

I was personally awarded Professional Speaker of the Year 2021 (North West England), Most Influential Business Speaker & Skills Coach in 2022 and Skills Coach of the Year 2022/23 amongst other accolades. We’re extremely proud of what we, as a company, have achieved in business, and what the future holds for us and our clients.

Why did you start your own business?

I launched my business with the aim of freeing myself from the shackles of a nine-to-five, although truth be told, I’ve never really had normal working hours. Having previously worked in broadcasting, the long and unsociable hours were the norm, and when the opportunity to make a change came, I grabbed at it with both hands.

By starting my own business I now get to make a meaningful contribution to the wider society, however I get to do it on my own terms. I know at the end of the day, it’s mine, and as long as I keep providing a quality service, while focussing on improving the lives of the people I work with, it will continue to be a success.

What has been your biggest business breakthrough?

My biggest business breakthrough came when I realised that if I put helping others first, the money would follow. Like many business owners, I started off developing a product, and then heading out into the world to promote it, and that got me so far, but to take the business to the next level, I put the customer first.

As much as that sounds like common sense now, at the time, I assumed I knew what people wanted. By focusing on how I could give value to my customers and ensure they were getting the best service possible, I was able to build strong relationships with them and offer them more than just a product or service.

I was building relationships. It’s a very rewarding feeling to know that I have helped others in the process of building a business for myself.

What has been your proudest achievement in your business?

I am proud to have supported countless women in their business journeys, whether it was through providing advice, mentorship or other resources. My passion lies in helping women start, grow and succeed with their businesses. Alongside this, I enjoy speaking at conferences and events.

My favourite so far was being invited to host a panel discussion in Malaysia, the subject was ‘Breaking Down Barriers for Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)’.

It was an amazing opportunity, and it was exciting to hear my work being translated into multiple languages live, and for a global audience. It sounds cheesy, but if one woman walks away from anything I’m involved in thinking “I can do this”, it’s been a massive success.

What is the most effective support or guidance you have received?

Like many people, I started a business because I had a skillset and a passion. Like many, that skillset wasn’t how to run a business, so since day one we have engaged with and accepted the help of support programmes and initiatives.

They have been an integral part of our success. These programs have also given us access to resources and mentorship that we wouldn't have otherwise been able to find. We’ve gained invaluable skills in areas such as process creation and financial management, which have enabled us to better manage our business operations.

Additionally, the connections and networks we've built through these programs has allowed us to connect with people who have been there, done it and have the branded t-shirt. The Boost growth mentor we were allocated on our very first business support programme has remained with us to this day.

We saw his value immediately and decided that retaining him privately was in our interest, and I’m not sure what we’d do without him at this stage. He’s always reiterated one piece of advice to us, which I’ll happily share with you. “Speak your customers’ language”.

If you are heading into a meeting with a client, do your research and get your head around some of the terminology used within their sector.

What keeps you going when things are tough?

When things get tough, I also try to find a way to incorporate some sort of positive reinforcement, even if it's something as simple as a treat or something small like taking a break for a few minutes. I know that sometimes things can be overwhelming, but by breaking down the task and setting achievable goals, it's easier to stay focused and motivated.

Additionally, I'm sure to talk with people who lift me up and give me the encouragement that I need. Having a support system is key when life throws curveballs, and it helps keep me accountable and on track.

When nothing else works, I put my phone away and take a walk or do some light exercise like yoga. Even if it's for just 10 minutes, it helps to clear my mind and gives me the energy and drive I need to push through the tough times. Mind-set is everything, and I remind myself that no matter what happens, this too shall pass.

What are your best three tips for maintaining your wellbeing?

  1. Take your lunch breaks: Taking lunch breaks not only allows us to take a break from our work, but also gives us the opportunity to refuel and reenergise our minds.
  2. Long hours do not equal increased productivity: Working too much can lead to burnout, and if we push ourselves too hard then it can take a toll on our mental health. I am now committed to a four-day week, and to taking regular breaks throughout my day, and as long as I am focussed during my working hours, I get just as much (if not more) done.
  3. Acknowledge the feelings of being overwhelmed: Remember that it is possible to take control of the situation by breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones and focusing on completing one task at a time. Multitasking is a myth! I run courses on time and calendar management which advocates time-blocking activities, and I’ve never had anyone say to me “I appreciate it Liz, but I work far better when juggling multiple tasks”.

 

What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur starting a business?

My advice to female entrepreneurs is this: It isn't all about the hustle. While hard work is an important part of success, it's important to also remember that working smarter and not harder can be just as beneficial for achieving your goals.

Developing a good strategy and executing it with focus and efficiency will yield more successful results over time than simply relying on hard work alone. We’re not put on this earth to work, so focus on creating a life you’re going to look back on and smile about. www.DigiEnable.co.uk

 

Boost is helping Lancashire businesses. We have a range of funded support programmes and a team of business advisers you can talk to. To speak to someone from the Growth Hub about business support, contact Boost online or call 0800 488 0057.

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