A chat with business coach Manjaree Gamage Brooker

Mar 22 2022.

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Manjaree Gamage - Brooker is a businesswoman and business coach. Since taking over as CEO of Blue Diamonds Jewellery in 2016, Manjaree has helped coach more than 75 women entrepreneur businesses in various sectors, from home-based businesses to full-time businesses.  “I’m a tough-love, no holds barred, not afraid to call you out kind of coach. I offer a perspective from years of practical experience” Manjaree says. Today, apart from being a CEO, Manjaree is a successful business coach under her self made title as Product Business Expert. We dive into the topic of business coaching.

Q    Tell us about yourself? Who is Manjaree - the small business expert?
I’m a female entrepreneur, a toddler boy mum, a business coach, a ride and die friend, a cocktail maker, amateur interior designer…basically, I wear a lot of hats! I spent more than 5 years in consulting and working in my family business in over 8 different industries before I realised that while I enjoyed my work, I wasn’t making an impact nor was I living the life that I wanted. Having my son just shy of the COVID-19 pandemic was a massive wake-up call for me as it forced me to take time off and isolation made me realise what my priorities were - time and financial freedom alongside a deep sense of fulfilment that I was making a difference in people’s lives. 

So I took a step back - re-evaluated my life  - got a plan in place - and took action! Now I wake up every morning excited and energised to work on my own businesses, one of which is a diamonds jewellery manufacturing company. Blue Diamonds Jewellery, a publicly listed company that started in 1991, was going through serious management issues before I came on board in late 2016. However, after 5 years, we are now exporting globally to USA, Middle-East, India, Japan, Australia and the business made $700,000 top line in FY 2021. The other one is my own coaching business, where I support small business owners and also do corporate training for exporting businesses. 

Q    Why do you think coaching can be so beneficial to small business owners and entrepreneurs?
The majority of business owners start out their businesses because of passion or opportunity - they have a product or a service that they think they can sell and they sort of stumbled into it as a ‘business’. But no matter how much talent or excitement you have, running a business on just that is a sure-fire way to feel frustrated and demotivated in the long run. 

A sustainable business needs structure and system and strategy. Basically, if you’re not making money to pay yourself,  setting it up to scale in the long-term and using your business to shape the life you want to lead,  you’ve just got an expensive hobby, not a business. Coaching allows you to put in all the things that can channel your passion into profit!

Q    As a business coach what types of insight do you offer small business owners and entrepreneurs?
I’m a tough-love, no holds barred, not afraid to call you out kind of coach. I offer a perspective from years of practical experience, a whole range of my own designed templates and tools that have proven to work and tailor-made strategies to grow your business keeping your own personal goals in alignment. 

I have various types of clients - ones who are running businesses out of their homes part-time whilst juggling being a parent, ones running a side-hustle business after their 9-5’s and ones who are full-time, with physical locations and a team underneath them. Each business owner is unique in how they can approach the challenges of their business. But the challenges are usually the same across any industry, and that’s where a coach can come in as support to face those obstacles. I also primarily work with women and the stressors and adversities faced by them are different and that is also incorporated into my coaching. 

I’ve also created my own set of affirmation cards, that are specifically for business owners - to motivate them and help them reset whilst riding the entrepreneur roller coaster. 

Q    In your opinion when should a business seek the help of a business coach?
There are a few stages in which I believe you should get support. When you’re struggling to figure out what you should concentrate on first as you set up, doing an online course like a planning workshop is ideal to get you started. I’ve got a self-paced course for exactly this purpose. As you make some sales and bring in customers, you have to get your foundations right - from your finances to sales channels to customer profile to overall management. For that, I’ve got a great group programme, which actually allows you to learn one week and then action the next - alongside other incredible business owners on the same journey, so there’s community support built right in!

Once you’re at a point where you’re taking the salary you want and the orders are coming in, but you’re pressed for time and don’t know how to take it to the next level, that’s when customised and 1:1 support should be what you’re looking for. Here you can directly work on your business hand in hand with a coach’s eyes also looking over everything - in this case, the changes you make are big ones, from hiring teams, renting locations, exporting to new countries, pivoting to new revenue streams and more. 

Q    How can a business make the most of its relationship with a business/leadership coach?
My most successful clients are the ones that are willing to listen, learn and actually action what we discuss during our sessions. I’ve had clients go from making less than Rs. 8000 a month to having sold out collections within a day, to exporting bulk orders to India when they used to sell 3-5 pieces a month, quitting their full-time jobs because they’re making more money through their business which is now Rs. 1.5mn revenue a month, investing in property for the first time because they are making profits through their business. These are clients who are honest about their struggles, are able to face up to their own bad habits and usually, they are reaching out to me more than I am to them! 

Q    Despite working with a business coach, what are the most common mistakes business owners make when running their businesses?
Self-doubt is a huge block that clients have - they take a long time to become confident in both their own abilities and their business’ potential. A lot of the work I do goes into figuring out these limiting beliefs and actively working on their business to prove to them that the sky is truly the limit when it comes to building your business. Another mistake I see is giving up too soon - any action you take in your business needs time for its impact to be seen, there is no such thing as overnight success. 

Q    What’s the typical duration when coaching a business?
My group programmes are 3 months whilst my 1:1 clients take between 4-6 months of work. I also have a lot of clients that continue so some I’ve now been working with for more than 1.5 years and it’s incredible to look back on the early days and see the leaps and bounds they’ve made. One client recently found our first business plan we had done together - her annual sales goal she’d put on there is not even 50% of her current monthly sales! So long-term clients see large gains over time. 

You can find Manjaree on Instagram : @manjareegb

Pix courtesy Manjaree


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fazmina Samat

Wifey. Mommy. Daughter. Sister. Ice cream. Movies. Date nights. Bookaholic. Foodie.

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