A new Action Learning course at Lancaster University has given Ann Robinson the courage to set up a completely new business, after years working in a family construction firm.
Eager to develop a new direction in business, mother-of-two Ann, from Garstang, near Preston, realised early on in discussions with her Action Learning colleagues that a completely fresh start was needed.
Following on from the Action Learning programme, Ann launched Squeeze the Lemon, a business coaching consultancy. It will focus on one-to-one leadership coaching.
Ann explained: “There is no doubt that without Action Learning I would not be doing what I am today. I knew I could do something like this, but I think I needed the encouragement that the other people from the Action Learning set gave me.
“After exploring all the possibilities in the Action Learning environment, I knew setting up this business would be a viable commercial venture. In Action Learning you can be totally frank and open in a way that you cannot be anywhere else in business for fear of giving away ideas or sensitive information to competitors.
“It is a very powerful process. I didn’t want an academic course, but I did want to challenge myself and learn more about what I could achieve as an individual and as a business leader.
“Action Learning was perfect for me and has given me a completely new direction in life. The name ‘Squeeze the Lemon’ even came from an Action Learning session.
“It has had a dramatic impact on me; it has completely refocused on where my abilities in business lie. The result has been truly life-changing and I’m very excited to be starting a new company.”
Squeeze the Lemon will focus on one-to-one leadership coaching, now recognised as one of the most powerful elements of business life in terms of enhanced performance and support.
The new Action Learning initiative has been developed by Lancaster’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development in partnership with the European Social Fund’s ‘Embedding Innovation In SMEs’ programme.
Its aim is to raise productivity, competitiveness and skills in small businesses and organisations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. It is the first time Action Learning has been used in the SME sector in the UK.
Laurie Smith, Action Learning facilitator at Lancaster, said: “It helps each individual find their own way and reach their own conclusions.”