Nicola Strudley is the founder of Brain Train Me – Berkshire Mummies spoke to her to find out more about herself and her business, plus her top tips for others wishing to venture out on their own.
Tell me briefly about your business?
Brain Train Me offers counselling, wellness coaching, critical incident debriefing, growth mindset afterschool clubs and mindful walks.
I wanted Brain Train Me to be something more modern, current and relevant to people. With the increased pressure of how we live our lives today, the wellness industry has mushroomed, with us using devices to track our steps, heart rate, sleep calories etc. But do you ever think about how you could get the best out of your brain? I help identify strategies and techniques that people can use in order to create lasting change to quality of life.
Tell me briefly about yourself and your family?
I am an Aquarian and always liked being a little bit quirky. I love experiencing new things and pushing my comfort zones a little bit. One of my favourite sayings is “Do something every day that scares you a little bit.” It is only when we challenge ourselves that we grow. I like to keep a reverse bucket list – instead of listing all the things that I want to do before I die, I list all the amazing things that I have done in life already!
When did you set up your business and why?
I started off my working life as a Probation Officer. I spent 3 years working in a young offenders institution and it was here that I saw the power of talking. The guys that really wanted to make changes in their lives did so if they had a supportive person to encourage them. I kept seeing it happening and this is what made me decided to retrain as a counsellor. I love my job and it never ceases to amaze me what people can achieve with the right support in place.
It was after years of working with adults who struggled to cope when crisis hit, that I decided to focus on working with young people. I know schools are stretched trying to fit in the curriculum but I felt passionately that all young people should be equipped with skills to manage their emotions, that they can use through the whole of their lives.
What do you see as the benefits of being self-employed?
I love setting my own hours. When I worked in an office, I was always dashing to fit everything in, now I am able to walk the kids to school and have found this to be the most precious time of the day.
How do you manage to run your business and look after your family?
Working in the wellness industry means that my own self care is a priority. I can’t be available for my clients if I am frazzled. I have my own therapy each month, I try and run a couple of times a week, I love reading, I have recently discovered the power of Sound Therapy and gong baths.
As a working mum I try and compartmentalise – be present for work when I am working and be available for the kids when I am not working.
What are your top tips to other parents considering setting up their own business?
It was Henry Ford that said “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Start small with a side hustle and build up slowly. Going solo is scary but it worth being brave and take calculated risks! And with regards all the guilt you might feel about not being available for your child because you are working long hours …. Just think about the amazing skills you are modelling to them; bravery, commitment, dedication and a strong work ethic in practice.
What’s next for your business?
I am really aware that we have all lurched from one crisis to another and bracing for yet another that will hit us all hard (cost of living), this cannot fail to have an impact on own emotional and physical wellbeing. I feel that people will need now more than ever a supportive space to remember their resilience, strengths, skills and abilities not just to survive but to thrive.
Finally, what are your top three things to do as a family in Berkshire?
Myself and my husband love walking and the kids are still young enough that they don’t get a choice to stay home alone! There are so many Ramblers Routes and circular walks around the area that often involve a stop off at a pub! Last summer we walked sections of the Thames Path which was fun.
We normally have a membership to a park, when the kids were little it was Legoland and we could go in the school day, this year we took out a Savill Garden Family membership and have enjoyed all it has to offer including summer outdoor productions! The money we saved on parking has been spent on ice cream!
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