Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Fleur Sexton, the owner of PET-Xi, who won Woman of the Year Award 2017/2018 and whose business won the Business Awards 2017/2018 Company Of The Year.
Those two awards are just a few which are included in the spectacular achievement portfolio of Fleur and her business. They are also a reason why I wanted to meet with Fleur and talk to her about women in business and listen to what advice she could offer to all of us out there trying to make it in the big wide world.
Fleur started her business 24 years ago when she was a teacher and felt like she wanted to make a difference in the world of teaching and solve educational problems. Fleur believes that the best businesses start this way. Once feeling the need to change the system, Fleur went onto develop a product with her husband that allowed the changes in teaching to happen. Her enthusiasm, passion and years of hard work led to Fleur running a successful business, being involved in a lot of charity and community work, achieving the Woman of the Year Award and becoming the Deputy Lieutenant representing her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of West Midlands. It wasn’t always easy and many times the business and work required immense sacrifices both financially and physically, however Fleur never gave up on people and always pushed forward to achieve her dreams. PET-Xi is a thriving company which delivers intensive and result-based interventions and training for young people who may be at risk of not achieving their potential. They educate, motivate and fire up young minds.
How to get things done
First of all I wanted to find out how such a busy business woman and mum manages her time so effectively. Fleur said that getting up early and working late is often what enables her to get the work done. Fleur empathised that it is important for women to stop asking for permission to do things, but rather just go and do what needs to be done. That includes taking your children to work or into your place of business and enabling them to see you as a mum achieving your professional goals. Even if sometimes the meetings or presentations do not go well, at least your children can see how you deal with those situations and learn from it. What works for Fleur is blurring lines of all the roles and circles, it means including the children and family in charity and community work which allows her to still serve people in the community while spending time with her children teaching them valuable life lessons. Fleur believes that being employed makes you part of the community which is crucial for a healthy wellbeing, which drives her to help more people get into employment.
Fleur mentioned how important it is to have supportive people around you, people you can rely on. She herself was able to lean on her family and people around her who supported her and enabled her to go and achieve her dreams. Fleur’s mum still works with her once a week and her children are also involved in the business. We spoke a lot about the strong family element that has always surrounded the business, where it all feels like one big family. Fleur says – “Family is just a group of imperfect people refusing to give up on each other”. There is a strong belief that everyone is in it together, through thick and thin which makes the difference to how people feel and how their lives are affected.
Business advice for others
I was very interested to see what business advice The Woman of the Year had to offer to our readers. Fleur believes that Networking is the key to the success of every business, as well as finding a gap in the market and trying to improve people’s lives, which she does on a daily basis at PET-Xi. It is crucial to find something that you love and if something that you do does not feel right, try something else. During the hard time, you also need to stay realistic, the bad days will be there, however, it is all about being passionate and letting that drive you through the hardship.
Fleur has always liked to be involved and through her business she was able to facilitate support for 150,000 children. She did all this while believing that the buck always stops with her and she never let go of the responsibility, always ensuring that she understood all the details of her business and was able to address any issues that arose.
One great point she made that stuck with me was that you always have to be ready for changes, do not become complacent and always have other paths that you could be exploring.
How to get started
I was very eager to find out what advice Fleur had for women who want to start, but do not know where to begin. Fleur stated that she never made decisions on a financial basis and that is the way forward. Do what is right and not what is financially prosperous. Fleur believed that some projects in the past needed implementing even though they made a loss.
Network, network, network and get your name out there. That is the other key to success. Help women raise other women and work supporting each other.
A great conclusion to the interview is a saying that Fleur uses, “when there is rubble all around you, that is where you find gold”. Things will not always work out the way you plan them and people will work against you, but if you stick with it, anything is possible.
Author: Bien Magazine
Photos: Fleur Sexton, PET-Xi