Rebecca Bonnington, a CEO and Co-Founder is a woman on a mission to make it happen for every ambitious small to medium sized business on the planet. She is a restless entrepreneur who is passionate about supporting people and business to go beyond the potential they think they have.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was brought up in a terraced house in North Manchester with my older brother, who I’m now in business with. Our mum brought us up on her own and studied to be a teacher, living on a student grant. We were not wealthy at all.
I grew up in the 1970’s so I had freedom to play out until it got dark. This taught me to be street wise and stand on my own two feet.
My route to freedom and leaving home was getting to university so I studied hard and got into the University of York to study English Literature. I stopped studying hard and scraped a 2:2 degree! In my second year, I was much more interested in working and spent my third year working part time for a firm of management consultants.
This opened my eyes to the world of work and consulting and the dream of being a coach and consultant began.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
For four years I worked for a global recruitment company and did very well. I was, however, in a toxic marriage and had a toxic boss. With two young children and real ambition, I found it hard to get to where I wanted to be.
The major turning point was leaving my first husband. He was an abusive alcoholic and I lived in a permanent state of stress, always treading on eggshells.
The same week I left my first husband was the same week I discovered I had skin cancer. I was 33, in fact it was the day of my 33rd birthday when I told my husband our marriage was over.
That same week, I had the malignant melanoma cut out. Two cancers in one week were removed.
It took me three years to divorce him and thousands of pounds in legal fees as he was wholly unreasonable. I was still having panic attacks and living on my nerves whilst raising two young children and running a business.
In October 2006 I attended a NLP Practitioner Course for 7 days. This changed my life forever. Within a week of learning NLP I was divorced for a fraction of the money my estranged husband had been demanding and I was finally free of fear.
By 2008 I’d met a new man (I’m now married to him very happily and we have a daughter together, my older two children consider him to be their father) and closed my recruitment business. I had six months off to be at home with my new baby and took stock. It was then I decided to be a coach. The rest is history!
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you to say “YES, go for it!”
The answer to this is quite strange. I’d been operating as a solopreneur business coach, NLP trainer for 9 years and realised I wanted to be a part of something bigger. I’d gotten a bit lonely and wanted the pleasure of having colleagues without the pain of being employed!
I joined an organisation which I thought would suit me for the next ten years that offered this model. Sadly, the organisation failed and I was left wondering what to do next.
A client was referred to me who needed help commercialising her ideas. She had no money to spare so we agreed I would attend her Harmonizing Retreat in exchange for business consulting and coaching.
The retreat was way out of my comfort zone as it was a very touchy feeling and very feminine (I’m not a girly girl). It involved things like collaging, drawing and vegan food – none of which are particularly up my street!
However, I went along and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was during one of the drawing experiences that I realised I’d been ‘hiding’. After my difficult divorce and closure of my recruitment business, I’d been keeping a low profile and was scared to ‘get out there’ again.
I found myself drawing a picture of me on top of a hill with a castle around me, overlooking the sea. The picture included happy people who were associated with me, following me, but not under my control. They were from all over the world.
I realised then that I could start a global coaching and consulting business and had the resources to do it – they were all sitting in my own head!
Within two months, I had the name of the business, the domain name and started work on the brand and all our models and frameworks.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
I started Tricres so that every business owner on the planet, no matter how small or where they were in the world, could afford to gain access to the highest quality coaching and consulting materials. What we do face to face with clients is not affordable for most businesses, but I want to change that.
Our content guides business owners through our systems and processes so they can build a really strong foundation for their business and support it themselves as they grow.
When they’re ready, we now have a network of Partners trained by us who can help them in more of a bespoke way.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
My family, my brother and my business network are all there to support me when I have a tough day, tough week or tough month! I turn to those people who love me and listen to my hopes and fears. My husband runs his own business so he understands what I go through. I support him on bad days too. Happily I’m in business with my brother too. When he’s down, I’m up and supporting him and vice versa. It seems to work well.
That and going for a good walk, going to yoga and a gin and tonic on a Friday night!
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Our business was 18 months old when the pandemic hit. All our work was face to face as we hadn’t yet built the Partner Programme and our online learning platform was not very good.
So our business fell off a cliff. We were left with no work and no income. Luckily two clients kept paying us and we could just about pay our bills. We borrowed money from the UK Govt in the form of a Bounce Back loan to keep investing and keep going.
Personally, I stopped paying myself and had to put my mortgage payments on hold for three months. I scaled back all personal expenses, changed my car to a cheaper one and cancelled everything that I didn’t need.
We were lucky in that my husband’s business was in the ‘essential’ category so he went back to work in June 2020 and income flowed into our household again.
Slowly but surely clients started being comfortable with working on zoom and we won work again.
Our Partner Programme launched in January 2021 in an online format and we had another source of income coming in. We’ve been building that ever since and now have 13 Partners across the globe.
It took its toll on me though and I experienced burn out in May 2021. A few days in a tent on my own in the Scottish countryside put me back together as did a few days in a Shepherds Hut in February this year. It seems that to restore my soul I need to go into the wilderness with my dog and stare into space!
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I’ve raised three kids who are reasonably sane! My older two are happy and settled in their personal lives which I see as a huge achievement, particularly after what we all went through with my first husband (their biological father).
Plus I got an MSc in Coaching. I’m not a very good academic, but I got it!
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I’d like to see us all learning to love differences and accept that we’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
My purpose in life is to love and be loved. Love is at the heart of everything we do. My NLP trainers have a phrase ‘freedom is everything and love is all the rest’ I haven’t found anything that tops that.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I believe women’s leadership should just be called leadership. When we get to a stage in the world where there are simply leaders, rather than women leaders, then we will have reached a good place.
I don’t want it to be unusual for women to lead, I want it to be the norm.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Keep going ladies. Focus on a big dream, keep that dream in your heart and do something every day, no matter how small to follow that dream. You only fail when you give up. You’ll need to change your approach as the landscape changes, but fundamentally keep heading to that big, audacious dream you’ve set for yourself.