While most of us are familiar with that dreaded ‘Monday morning feeling’, Liz Hopkin positively relishes the start of each new week.

Setting up her own business after 12 years working for the same company has encouraged Liz to see life a little differently.

“I used to dread Mondays, but now I wake up and think ‘what difference am I going to make today?’, ‘what challenges are going to come up?’. I think ‘yeah, Monday, bring it on!’” said Liz.

“Now that I’m steering my own ship, I look at my challenges and feel positive about overcoming them. The potholes of life are still there, but where the old me would have ducked down to avoid what might come my way, now I feel empowered and excited.”

Liz was able to launch her business, The Excellent You, a skills development and business consultancy in Neath Port Talbot, with support from the New Enterprise Allowance.

Launched in 2011, the NEA can provide money, support and mentoring for unemployed budding entrepreneurs and is available to claimants of Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (or their partners) and lone parents or sick on Income Support. Some jobseekers may also be eligible if they get Universal Credit.

Liz was so impressed with the help she received from the mentor assigned to her on the scheme, Sheran Grey, of Business Sense Associates, they have now joined forces at The Business Centre to help new entrepreneurs in South Wales become a winning success.

The “Gain Confidence in Business and Get Customers” and ‘Social Media Marketing for Business’ workshops are being offered free to new business owners and people on the NEA Scheme. Liz said: “It’s wonderful to be in a position where I can use my own experience and knowledge to help other people build their business. Our work and career are such a massive part of all our lives - so the fact I can use mine to help others build and improve theirs, is both awesome and tremendously humbling”.

“People often underestimate the importance of confidence when it comes to success – whether it’s in our personal lives or our professional life. It can make the difference between moving mountains and being crushed by the smallest grain of sand. That’s why I wanted to share what I’d learned along my own journey to help others. If I can just help one business owner become a little more confident when building their business or dealing with their customers, then I’ll be very happy!”

Liz has also used her degree in Applied Psychology, significant experience as a Lean Expert and Leader to launch surviveatwork.com, an online resource to support employees along their survive at work journey. She has even written a book “The Shiny and New, Confident You”, based on the firm belief that confidence is key when it comes to business success.

The inspiration for her the business came from her old job, working as an internal consultant improving processes at a large company before being made redundant after 12 years.

“I really enjoyed it, but there was a lot of pressure and I’d look around to see so many unhappy people, all wishing the day away, just hanging on to get through another week,” recalled Liz, “I knew that I wanted to do something that would make a difference to people, using what I’d learned in my job to help people who were being consumed by work, rather than enjoying it; people who had so much potential, but never realised it because they were being drained by simply surviving the day. I wanted to help people start enjoying their jobs and achieving their potential, not just tread water.”

Liz credits her mentor, Sheran Grey, for building her own confidence in business.

“I’d been employed since leaving University, so starting my own business took me into unchartered territory. Sheran has been absolutely superb, spending hours helping me build my business, generously sharing her considerable knowledge and challenging me to push forward. The value, support and advice I’ve received from her along this journey has been priceless.”

“From a personal perspective, I find that the more I work with people to increase their knowledge and confidence, mine increases too. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment being able to point people in a direction that you know will make a tangible difference to their business. That’s wonderful.”

“It helps that I know first-hand what it’s like to set up on your own. It has been difficult, but I can honestly say there hasn’t been one occasion where I have thought I’ve made a mistake.” The free workshops, which commenced on Monday 28th September 2015, helps new business owners improve their confidence, and shares the tried and tested strategies for acquiring customers and closing the deal. The social media awareness workshops are aimed at helping business owners use social media to build relationships and influence.

People interested in taking part in the workshops or finding out more about The Excellent You can contact Liz through her website TheExcellentYou.com, via email at liz@theexcellentyou.com or by calling 07980 235216.