Business Matters by Denise Roberts

Only business with excellence will do

Denise Roberts talks with Sharon McLean, whose business supports other businesses and budding entrepreneurs

It was her dad’s involvement in the property market that first inspired the young Sharon McLean to venture into the world of business. She studied the subject at university, and today owns Business With Excellence (BWE), a business support and training consultancy, launched in 2002.

BWE provides one-to-one and telephone mentoring, training seminars, courses and networking opportunities for individuals and organisations that want to develop their ideas and grow their business and social enterprise. It also provides a range of CD and DVD resources, like 12 Months of Marketing, which gives a tip a month to help owners focus on their business.

Sharon’s highly inspirational and energetic disposition makes her naturally suited to providing the encouragement women need to fulfill their potential in business. You can literally feel her passion when she says, “We encourage people to love what they do, and do what they love!”

As a great networker, Sharon also runs the popular BWE Networking exhibitions, and RAIN (Referral and Introducers Network). She also runs a yearly event called ‘Ministry in the Marketplace’.

After graduating from university, Sharon spent time promoting nursing and midwifery courses throughout the UK – and “enjoying time away in various luxurious hotels”! However, after her daughters were born, she decided against returning to her full-time job and, instead, opted for something that worked around her family.

“There was a gap in the market for business support for women, particularly women of colour,” she says, “and I realised other people were in the same position -particularly professionals – having all these gifts and talents, but not knowing where to start.”

Business With Excellence was therefore launched to support businesses from idea to growth stage. As a qualified counsellor, Sharon also uses her skills when mentoring business owners to help them “unblock challenges that affect their businesses, which a traditional business trainer may not spot”.

She has grown her business from the ground up, and faced the usual business challenges, as well as many triumphs, such as winning a local authority contract to deliver training sessions, and being commissioned to write a bespoke business start-up training course for carers.

“It went so well that I have been asked to deliver it in other boroughs,” she says. “Running this course made me realise the hope I bring to people to fufil their potential by using their gifts and talents to make an income for themselves.”

Being a Christian has not only helped her to meet challenges head on, but also to move past them, too – such as once, when competition was intense and she got the inspiration to write and deliver a range of new services that boosted her business.

She is currently making the transition to online training, which she describes as a new learning curve. However, as a business mentor, she’s following her own advice for tackling challenges: “Recognise where you are and how far your limitations go, and get the necessary support,” she explains. “I plan to go on a series of digital marketing courses, and also to employ the skills and expertise of those who have ventured down this road.”

Her closing tips for other Christians in business? “Use every gift that God has given you to run your business. Never be afraid of stepping out in faith, and have a support network around you.”

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Distraction is a time-stealer that many overlook, but ignoring it is the number one reason we scratch our heads at the end of the day and ask, “Eh, where did the day go?”

Here are a few tips to help reduce its effects:

  • Forget multi-tasking – it’s a myth. We can actually only focus on one task at a time. What we really do is switch between rather than multi-task; so when you are engaged in a task, focus on it exclusively.
  • Minimise interruptions. Turn off your phone, and work away from the computer sometimes – and, yes, that means resisting the urge to go on Facebook, Twitter and the rest.
  • Minimise disruptions. Whenever we’re interrupted, it takes us much longer to re-engage our minds with what we were doing before, and therefore longer to complete tasks.
  • Set a timer. A stopwatch timer can help you to organise how much time you allocate to a task. It will help improve your focus and efficiency, plus you will have great fun trying to beat it.

What makes a woman bloom in business?

‘What Makes a Woman Bloom in Business?’ is a live presentation, marking the relaunch of Christian Women in Business & Marketing. This relaunch is part of a one-day conference called ‘Grounded to Grow’, which will focus on metaphors of sowing, reaping and growing in marketplace ministry.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset and Why Weeds Make Great Teachers of Resilience and Management are just two of the topics to be explored. Speakers include: Marjie Simpson of A Call to Business; corporate film-maker Jeremy Higham, and award-winning gardener, Jason Loh, alongside host, Denise Roberts of Arable Woman and the Editor’s Chair.

The conference takes place on Friday 10th April 2015, from 10am to 4pm at St Matthew’s Conference Centre, 20 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2BU. Registration: £65. For more information visit

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