IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Oona Collins (as seen in The Successful Founder)
Mar 10th, 2021
Oona Collins, founder of Potential Plus International, is a global leadership coach who specialises in developing emotionally intelligent leaders and high performing executive teams. She has over 25 years’ experience, incorporating board level positions in the UK and Asia and in particular works with female executives looking to stamp their authority, particularly those in male dominated industries, and those looking to build their own businesses. Having worked and lived in Asia, Canada, Australia, Europe and the USA, Oona has coached people from over 30 different nationalities. She has worked with senior executives and leadership teams from some of the world’s biggest organisations, including Virgin Atlantic, Bulgari, Coutts, Legal & General, RBS, Kraft Foods, and AON.
What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?
No matter what you have achieved in your career and personal life, starting your own businesses is one of the biggest and bravest life changes you can make. To succeed takes years of hard work, but it is essential that it is built on solid foundations that start with you. If you can start with the right balance of confidence, self-awareness and understanding of your own core values and drivers, then you are putting yourself in the best possible position to not just succeed, but be happy whilst doing so.
What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success ?
1 – Be clear on why you are doing what you are doing. Know what the personal drivers are behind your determination to build a business. That might be wanting to give your children the best possible education, or it might be to achieve financial independence. Whatever it is for you personally, use it to give you purpose.
2 – Know what your desired outcome is. Are you building a lifestyle business that will give you the income you need to live the life you want to live, or are you building a fast growth business that you want to exit and sell. Knowing this will determine how you set your targets and plan your strategies.
3 – Build self-awareness. Put the time into understanding yourself, what your strengths and weaknesses are. From here you can then build a plan for action and decide on what you would like to change. You can also then develop self management strategies and work on changing your habits.
4 – Develop your non-verbal intelligence. The way you carry yourself and use body language goes a long way in determining what influence you have over someone, or a situation. Women have a tendency to speak quickly and have a higher pitch. With remote working and video conferencing likely to be something that is with us for good now, it is worth working on how you come across on screen during meetings. Facial expressions, breathing habits, posture and tone of voice become so much more important.
5 – Be yourself. Trying to be someone you are not is hard work, emotionally draining and distracts you from being able to focus on influencing. You have got to where you are today because of who you are, so don’t try to change that. People will buy in to you if you are being authentic.
Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?
1 – My mother: she was an amazing role model and brought me up to believe that I can do and achieve anything I want in life. This is an attitude that I try to instill in everyone I work with.
2 – Jacinda Ardern: there can be few better examples of women showing that they can get to the very top of their ‘profession’ whilst still maintaining a healthy family life as a working mother.
3 – Amanda Gorman: here is a young woman who shot to international stardom by reading a poem at Biden’s inauguration. What inspired me the most though is not just the way she captured my attention whilst on the podium, but her ability to have even the most seasoned professionals on the political circuit in awe when she was doing interviews in the days afterwards. It was the perfect example of gaining influence through poise and presence.
4 – Maya Angelou: a woman who achieved so much herself professionally and made such a difference to society at a time when the odds were very much stacked against her. She embodied everything that it is to be authentic and influential.
5 – the Queen: one might imagine it is easy to be influential as the Monarch, but she took charge of an organisation that was steeped in traditions that she wanted to change and modernise. She did so against the will of many powerful people by biding her time, understanding herself and what her drivers were and by picking her battles.
What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.
This quote says everything you need to know about how to be an influential leader and the importance of impacting on and touching individuals. It moves me every time I read or say it.
The article first appeared here on 8th March 2021 – International Women’s Day.