Jane set up Jane Plan from her kitchen table in 2010 and last year her turnover exceeded £4 million. Yesterday she joined us at our HomeBizClub evening in Putney to share the secrets of her success.

Her talk was filled with practical tips about how to build your business, but there were three things that I came away with that struck me as the things which really set her apart and are fundamental to starting up and progressing your own business:

1. Knowledge and Confidence. Jane is a nutritionist. She had no formal training to run a business but when it comes to food she really knows her stuff and so when she started her business she had given herself the best chance of success – she was confident that if her clients followed Jane Plan they would lose weight.

Starting up your own business can be quite overwhelming, whether you are young and just starting out or returning to work, but confidence is absolutely key to your success. Would you get on a flight if the pilot didn’t look confident? It is the same with your product or service. We buy from people who are confident and confidence comes from knowing what you are talking about.

2. Passion and Enthusiasm. Very closely related is the enthusiasm that comes from doing something you love. The passion with which Jane described the quality and care that has gone into creating delicious and nutritious meals and the amazing stories of her client’s success from dropping a dress size to look your best to the life-changing stories of people who have dropped many stones by following Jane Plan, was completely compelling.

3. Hard work. No-one can ever prepare you for just how hard you have to work to transform a small business into a success. Every successful business owner I have ever met has a drive that really sets them apart. That doesn’t mean that if you aren’t prepared to work the 28 hours in every day that Jane does that you should give up, it just means that we have to be realistic about our objectives. It is perfectly possible to have a small business that doesn’t overwhelm your life but if you want to create a business on the scale that Jane has, it probably does.

Jane’s advice was invaluable. It was so inspiring to learn from someone who in such a short period of time has built a fantastic business (The Daily Mail are running an article this morning comparing her to Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company). Here are a few of her top tips:

1. Always exceed expectations. For example, New Year’s Day is the day that many of us want to start our diets and it is also the day that few of us want to work, including couriers, and so for the first three years of her business Jane personally delivered more than 50 boxes of diets so that her clients could start the New Year the way that they wanted. Going the extra mile really gets people talking about you and there is nothing as powerful as word of mouth.

2. Build a fabulous team. Not many of us employ any staff, but it is important to get the help you need. Whether that is a student, a book-keeper or a techie to do what you can’t, it will free you to do what you do best.

3. Capture the power of networking. It was fascinating to discover that, despite having an online business, particularly in the beginning, Jane built her business by face to face networking. She knew that the women who attended networking groups also wanted to look and feel great and so they were potential clients. This is of course the principle on which we founded the DecorCafe Network.

4. Create a show-stopping website. Jane worked with Anna Cowie to create her brand design which was applied across her packaging, website, book cover and everything they do. The website is transactional and easy to use and by continuous development of the content and links to google it has a fantastic profile. (Anna is running a workshop to help you to do the same on Tuesday 7th June. Click here)

5. Track and evaluate everything you do. It takes time to work out what is the best way to market your business and the only way you can understand what is most successful for you is if you can see which promotion your purchase came from – so code everything and then you can calculate the cost of acquisition – and if it isn’t working, move on!

6. Be your own PR. Jane has achieved coverage in all the national press by being proactive in building relationships with key journalists and responding quickly to their requests. Her go to support is Response Source – a brilliant source of leads for PR contacts. www.responsesource.com

7. Don’t Give Up!