Wavemakers: Businesswoman & Coach – Shweta Jhajharia, PGP 2001

Shweta Jhajharia, founder of Growth Idea and serial entrepreneur, is a multi-award-winning business consultant. Her business coaching franchise in London, is the biggest in the EMEA region and she has been recognized both by external bodies and industry awards panels as the top coach in the UK. 

Shweta was with Unilever for 7 years after completing her MBA from IIM Bangalore before investing in a business coaching franchise. She has since expanded her entrepreneurial repertoire to running High-Performance Executive Board Room programs while leading a boutique private equity firm investing in established UK based businesses. 

She draws upon this expertise for her clients to lead them to better profitability and enhance the long-term asset value of their businesses. She has also been ranked in the GlobalGurus World’s Top 30 Coaching Professionals for 3 years running. Shweta’s 60+ awards include CEO Monthly’s Outstanding Business Woman of the Year, Global Best Client Results, and two prestigious International Stevie Awards.

She has featured in over 50 leading media outlets and authored the Amazon best-seller, Sparks: Ideas to Ignite Your Business Growth.

How and when did you decide to start your own business? What is the most fulfilling aspect of being a business owner?

After spending over seven years in sales and marketing with Unilever, I felt the need for something that was more fulfilling and allowed me to control my success while also giving me the opportunity to directly see the results of my effort. I was 29 and Global Marketing Knowledge Manager at Unilever at the time, hence the decision to give up my secure position seemed daunting. Especially as the UK economy was in the middle of the 2008 recession.  

Having never thought of running a business, the concept of investing in a franchise, where the systems and processes are more defined was appealing to me. 

Having been a business owner for over a decade now, the most fulfilling aspect for me has been the freedom to chart my own course and be a leader in a fast-growing industry. I’m fortunate enough to be able to decide my own goals and milestones and achieve success on my own terms. 

What are the key things business owners should be looking to do in the post COVID scenario?

I work with a large community of business owners and helping them work on their strategy during and after the current scenarios is something I’m having to do on a daily basis.

Business owners spend an inordinate amount of time in trying to preserve the status co and the COVID scenario has given us a real opportunity to transform business models, behavior patterns and how we live and work. Businesses that will be successful in the post COVID scenario will be those that embrace the destruction of the old models and are able to identify and commit to the things that will create long term competitive advantage for them.

For most business owners, an exercise of creating their business (on paper) from scratch – deciding what technology to use, what people to rehire, what landscape to compete in and which customer to focus on – is likely to be really useful for a stronger return. As we prepare for a return strategy, we all need to really delve deep into how we will redefine what the new world for ourselves and our businesses looks like and that is by far the one thing that will make the biggest difference to business owners. 

What are the changes you expect to see after the current crisis?

As painful as the crisis is and has been for many of us, I’m confident that it also presents one of the greatest opportunities of our lifetimes. This is to redefine how we live life, the work that we do and the many stories that we have been taught to believe. 

COVID has brought us together as a common foe and has bonded people across work, nations and communities in a much more human manner. Everyone has the opportunity to come out of the crisis with a better appreciation of life and the ability to prioritise the things that are really important to them. It will teach some of us the value of really questioning all our assumptions and take a step back regularly in life to refocus on our own purpose and reset our journeys.

All of us are facing the same storm but we are in different boats. We will come out of it with different experiences and it is up to us to make sure we come out positive and stronger.

What are the key qualities that you feel will help business owners in this current crisis?

Speed and Discipline will be the defining character traits of people who will emerge as ‘resilient’ within the current environment- how fast they are able to adapt and continue to adapt and how much rigour they apply to their strategies.

What drives you?

I am the happiest when I surprise myself.  I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from hundreds of world-class thought leaders, but my main drive comes from within. I like to create my ‘Best Evers’ and dare to do things that make me both excited and nervous at the same time!

What is the one mantra you absolutely live by?

Jim Rohn’s philosophy that ‘The pain of discipline is always less than the pain of regret’ is etched into how I work and live.

What is your key focus now?

Having worked with hundreds of SMEs in the UK in an advisory capacity, I transitioned my consultancy to own, operate and grow businesses. I’m currently focused on acquiring established SME businesses in the UK while growing our current portfolio of businesses.

Any unforgettable moments from your days at IIMB?

I have really fond memories of my time at IIMB – when I was first assigned my room, the competition of the first term, meeting my life partner, interacting with the incredible professors and teachers, nights spent studying in the library and friends made and the last day spent in the campus. I cherish the experience even more now after having left almost two decades ago.