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Sarah Pittendrigh: Formidable Over Forty

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When life throws us curveballs, we pivot and adapt to overcome, succeed, and thrive. That has been the sentimentality of many business owners over the last year, and none more so than Sarah Pittendrigh.

Pittendrigh is a multi-award winning, inspiring motivational speaker and coach, who established her own coaching business specifically for women in their forties who are looking to change their lives, when COVID-19 forced her wedding and event styling business, Simply Bows and Chair Covers , to cease operations. For the first time in over a decade, Pittendrigh had to stay home, to stay still, and found herself at a crossroads. Since her previous business was forced to close in the 2008 recession, she had been working constantly to rebuild and establish a new enterprise, building Simply Bows and Chair Covers into a nationwide franchise while also raising her son and battling cancer in 2014 and 2015.

“I had malignant melanoma twice in the middle of building the business, I was franchising, I was winning awards, I didn’t have time to think about the cancer, I was back at work within a week of my treatments.”

The pandemic brought a pause and suddenly, Pittendrigh was given a chance to contemplate her experiences. Addressing her mental health and taking the time to focus on her own well-being properly for the first time in years, during her reflection, she built on the methodology and mindset that had helped her to create Simply Bows and Chair Covers after facing bankruptcy. Now, she is ready to share her experience and what she has learned with other women. With Formidable Over Forty and her four pillar strategy, I CAN, Pittendrigh hopes to reach a particular market that has been left out by other coaching programmes. There is so much emphasis on getting twenty-year-olds into business or into a career, being featured and supported by accreditations like the Forbes 30 Under 30. The forty-year-old woman is not necessarily celebrated in mainstream business media.

“The attitude seems to be that the forty-year-old woman has done her time, but older women have so much to give. They have so much information, so much knowledge, so much to share, but not just that. They could have a phenomenal career that they’ve put on hold while the children are growing up, they might now be off to university. They should not be discredited.”

The Formidable Over Forty programme is designed to help women reach their specific goals. It could be that a participant would like to develop an exit strategy, or build the funds to finally travel the world, or start the business they’ve been dreaming of while they raised a family or built their career. The intention of the course is not to put everyone on the same set plan, it is personalised for each woman to ensure she feels confident in taking her next steps in life, whatever they may be.

Pittendrigh’s four pillar strategy is simple: ignite, clarify, action, and nurture.

The first step of the course identifies where the person is in life and why. What would the attendee like to change about their life and what is their motivation for making that change?

Then the course helps to clarify and plan how they achieve those goals, what needs to be adjusted or started? The course then moves on to instil in each participant the enthusiasm and confidence to act on their plan. The final stage is setting up systems that nurture the skills and mindset established during the course and to keep wellbeing at the forefront of every future plan.

“The most important thing when running your own franchise is that you have balance. When I established Simply Bows and Chair Covers, I was a single mum to a young boy, so it was critical that I had balance and support, making sure that my lines between home and work didn’t blur. I think it is very important when you have your own business, your model needs to be flexible. It can’t be set in stone, you’ve got to be in a position where you are able to move with changing markets and attitudes. It’s very important that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket and to have a number of different revenue stream to support you.”

The future of Formidable Over Forty is looking bright, as Pittendrigh hopes to take the course on the road. With plans to collaborate with another business owner, she is looking at creating the perfect weekend retreat to encourage brave thinking in a relaxing, safe environment. The testimonials from the client’s she has met over Zoom have shown that Pittendrigh’s latest business is being well-received and highly recommended.

Pittendrigh’s top advice for business owners and entrepreneurs is to not let imposter syndrome get the best of you and to reach out to people who are already experts in your industry.

“You will never stop learning and when you start your business, or you have an aspiration, take advice when it is offered, find an experienced mentor who can save you making costly mistakes by offering you their hindsight.”

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