Nat has been coaching for over a decade and specialises in working with career changers, freelancers and small business owners and mums returning to work. Nat likes to have walked in the shoes of her clients to be able to empathise with their perspectives and she is qualified to do so after 15 years working in the corporate world and 8 years running her own business Ayama Coaching Ltd, whilst being a mum to two little very active boys - now aged 4 years and 20 months. Nat is also a co-founder of Hive Collective which she started in June 2017 with Carmel King and Emma Hammond.
Hive Collective: What was the catalyst for leaving the corporate world?
Nat Harrison : Working 12 hour days, always being on call and being desk-bound. My health was beginning to suffer and I knew it wouldn’t be good for me as I grew older. I also knew I wanted a family one day and I wanted to bring them up myself (rather than having a full time nanny as lots of senior women in the city have to do). I was brought up in a single parent family and my mum had to work as much as possible for us to survive so I didn't see much if her growing up - I was determined when I had a family that I would be around for them. Right now I get to see my beautiful boys in the morning and early evening every day, and we have two mummy daycare days in the week.
HC: How long did it take for you to feel established as a Coach?
NH: A long time - I have always suffered imposter syndrome quite badly, I come from a long time of cleaners and I was the first to go to university in my family! So when I was a Vice President in an American investment bank, I often felt I shouldn't really be there. I have spent a lot of time building up my self-esteem and confidence though and I am massively passionate about helping clients resolve their confidence issues – it’s just so sad that we can be so capable yet so lacking in self belief. Also it helped that I am a project manager and very practical so I planned my career transition carefully. I did lots of qualifications over 3 years and saw lots of practice clients to give me credibility before I started my coaching business, and then I worked 4 days a week for a couple of years whilst I established my business.
HC: How do new clients find you, i.e. how do you market yourself?
NH: My career coaching clients find me usually via Google – I invested in SEO consultants early on and it’s paid off. I still get a lot of unhappy bankers coming to me looking for a career change (they like that I successfully transitioned out of The City). More locally I am recommended on Facebook groups or via word-of-mouth particularly for maternity coaching - mums returning your work or wanting to start their own businesses. I love helping people find more flexibility to have a better balance or more family time, it’s just so difficult juggling working full-time, bringing up kids and manage all the other stuff we have to deal with.
“I have always suffered imposter syndrome quite badly, (...) I often felt I shouldn’t really be there” HC: So how do you juggle running your own business with family life - what is the biggest challenge?
NH: Ermmm going to bed!! I work 3 days and 2 evenings seeing clients but I often log in when everyone else in bed and I can work until the early hours - I can't help it, I am driven and I really enjoy my work. I think I have a great balance really though – I get to be with my boys for 2 days and when they are older, I only want to work school hours.
That said it's tough sometimes, my partner also runs his own business - Green Man Landscaping, so we are both always working and there is no holiday or sick pay to fall back on. We forgo our social life for freedom and to be masters of our own destinies.
HC: How has launching Hive Collective impacted your own practice - in terms of your own self-development and expanding your network?
NH: Hive Collective has been brilliant for make me push myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t really like standing out from the crowd and I would never of started Hive had I not been on John Dawson's public speaking course - he has such an holistic approach to presenting, he taught me how to get used to being seen and claim the space around me. It has been brilliant in that I found a great partner in Carmel, who I love bouncing ideas off and working with, and it’s also been great for my network - I am a very social person, so it’s a great way to meet new friends and collaborators and Hive has given me a real sense of purpose - I really want to help businesses succeed. I love my work and I am so focused right now. I get a thrill out of seeing progress and success so when I work with local business owners and see them grow and realise that they can actually do it, it makes me so happy - #hivesuccess is what it's about.
HC: How are you involved with the Forge programme?
NH: Hive Collective are delivering 12 networking events for Forge until 2020 which is great, as we are meeting more and more speakers who we can also invite to Hive events and I am also coaching businesses 1-2-1, who are on the programme. HC: What's next for Ayama Coaching?
NH: Lots!!! I am currently having a branding refresh and a new website being built. Being more visible is my goal for this year so I am finally getting on top of my social strategy and starting to write more content. Also, I will be running ‘The New Level’ business coaching programme for the 2nd year, starting in October 2019. It’s been amazing helping 8 local businesses overcome their challenges this last 9 months and I already have a few businesses signed up for 2019/20, so it’s looking like it’s going to be a great journey!
HC: Thanks for sharing so much with us Nat.