Business

From C-Suite to Entrepreneur: Jeannette Linfoot’s Journey

In 2018, Jeannette Linfoot made the bold decision to step down from her role as CEO of Saga to build her own multi-million-pound business portfolio. Here, she shares her motivations, the lessons she carried into her entrepreneurial ventures, and her perspectives on the future economic landscape.

Transition to Entrepreneurship

Why did you make this decision?

“I always loved the roles I held in my corporate career and feel immensely proud of the global businesses I’ve led and the fantastic teams I’ve had the privilege of working with. But I had reached a point where I wanted more freedom, choice and flexibility, and felt the time was right to move into a plural career.

“I’ve always believed it’s important to have multiple streams of income, including passive income. Therefore, a step out of being a full-time corporate CEO allowed me to focus on a broader portfolio of investment opportunities.”

Lessons from Corporate Life

What lessons were you able to take from your corporate life into a more entrepreneurial world?

“I have taken so many lessons from my 25 years in the corporate world. Just some of them include having a clear vision, purpose, and strategy, not only for your business but also for your personal life, and having financial discipline, particularly in investment opportunities to ensure robust decision making.

“It’s very different investing your own capital compared with that of a large corporate, so that rigour and eye for detail will hold you in good stead.”

Impact Over the Last Five Years

Where do you feel you have made the biggest impact over the last five years?

“Creating the brand ‘Brave Bold Brilliant’ has allowed me to open a world of possibilities to business leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses, executive teams, and aspiring future leaders. I genuinely believe every person has greatness inside them, and it’s by being Brave and Bold that everyone can unlock their Brilliant!

“With Brave Bold Brilliant as the golden thread, the biggest impact I’ve made has been to the businesses I advise on strategy, growth, turnaround, internationalisation, and executive board performance, as well as the individuals I work with as a business mentor who are keen to scale up their careers and companies.

“On a broader basis, through my podcast Brave Bold Brilliant, which is in the top 1.5% of all podcasts in the world and listened to in over 120 countries, I’m able to reach a global audience and have incredibly rich and real conversations with high performing business leaders that genuinely inspire others to step up.

“On a personal level, my partner and I have a very different lifestyle to when we were both in large corporate jobs living in London and often travelling overseas on business. We’ve created a life by design. Today, we tri-locate between living on the beach in Caswell, on the edge of The Gower in South Wales, and our properties in London, as well as basing ourselves overseas during three months of the winter.”

Economic Outlook for 2024

How do you foresee the economic landscape changing in 2024 if at all?

“I think in 2024 we have some economic headwinds coming our way, primarily driven by interest rates, cost of capital, inflation, shortage of skilled labour, environmental challenges, and a global slowdown.

“I don’t think we will see an economic crash, but I would expect global growth to slow to around 2.6% vs 2.9% in 2023, with certain markets experiencing ‘mini recessions’.

“However, there will always be opportunities in any market. In fact, there are multiple examples of unicorn businesses that started during recessions such as Microsoft in 1975, Airbnb in 2008, and Apple in 1975.

“Some of the developments that are happening in tech, such as AI, are creating interesting opportunities. The increased focus on ESG means those businesses that step up in the areas of environment, social and governance will come out leading in 2024 and beyond.”

Insights from the Brave Bold Brilliant Podcast

Having interviewed many CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business leaders on your podcast about their own journey to success, what do you consider the common traits of a successful business leader?

“High-performing business leaders share many common qualities. They strategically plan and do so with a clear understanding of their ‘why’. They manage their time effectively, and they demonstrate adaptability, flexibility, and a readiness to step beyond their comfort zones.

“The best CEOs constantly look for new ways to improve both themselves and their organisation.”

Entrepreneurship: Innate or Learned?

Do you believe entrepreneurship is something people are born with or something they can learn?

“When I was in the corporate world, I used to tell myself I wasn’t very entrepreneurial, that I was a great corporate CEO and that was where I was meant to be. Of course, that voice in my head at the time was talking nonsense, as I now see I am great at operating in both those roles. I therefore think entrepreneurship is something people can learn. Surrounding yourself with the right people and being in the right environment is critical so you can learn from others.

“Having an appetite for risk is also important, as is having a healthy approach to failure. If you can embrace failing as learning and get comfortable being uncomfortable then you can be an entrepreneur.”

Mindset vs Skillset in Business Leadership

Which do you believe is more important in business leadership – Mindset or Skillset?

“Skillset is of course important, but personally, I think mindset is the most critical aspect for any business leader. It really does start within us, and having the belief and confidence in yourself is what will allow you to unlock greatness in others – your customers, teams, shareholders, and the world we operate in.

“Being a strong leader is about recognizing where your skills are and where your gaps are so you can recruit people who are more skilled in certain areas than you are. That shows real strength.”

Jeannette Linfoot’s transition from a corporate CEO to an entrepreneurial powerhouse highlights the importance of adaptability, a clear vision, and the courage to embrace new challenges. Her journey offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders.

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From C-Suite to Entrepreneur: Jeannette Linfoot’s Journey