SmarterPreneur Stories: Jan Harte, Jan Harte & Associates

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There is a special cohort at the core of our society and economy; ambitious people who run their own business. Some of them have joined SmarterPreneur Circles so that they can build a stronger and more profitable business. These are their stories.

Introducing Jan Harte, owner of Jan Harte & Associates.

Jan, what is your business all about and what is your role?

Jan Harte & Associates is all about providing innovative, practical and cost effective people management solutions. Our clients are companies who want to be legally compliant, have strong management systems and achieve a competitive edge through their people. We focus on five main areas: Employment Law Compliance, Performance Management, Talent Management, Conflict Management, and we deliver Training Programs in all these areas.

Irish companies operate in a web of sometimes complex Employment Legislation. Helping our clients to become compliant goes a long way to minimising their exposure to costly employee claims, penalties or fines. There is tremendous peace of mind in knowing you are covered and compliant! For many clients, this is all they need and want.

Good Performance Management is at the heart of good people management. When done well it ensures employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, see how their goals are helping the business succeed and are getting the regular feedback, direction and development they need to perform well.

Others want more. For companies who want to grow their businesses and leverage a competitive edge through their people, we partner with them to deliver Talent Management Solutions that work in a coordinated and integrated way to create the environment where employees can be aligned with the business strategy, involved, empowered and engaged and consistently delivering outstanding results. Bringing this to life is our ‘magic sauce’.

From time to time conflict will arise in companies and while many view conflict as disruptive and something to be avoided, when managed well it provides opportunity for learning, growth and continuous improvement. Our offerings include Workplace Investigations, Mediations and Disciplinary and Grievance hearings. We also represent clients at Rights Commissioner Hearings, Employment Appeals Tribunals etc., and we offer customised and public training programs in conflict management as well as in­house and public training all aspects of HR.

Like every other small business owner, I wear many hats. My role encompasses overseeing all the moving parts of the business; sales and customer service, marketing, developing and delivering the service, purchasing, accounts, administration, some IT & social media, making the tea and anything else that needs to be done. I do however have some wonderful administration and technical support.


Can you remember when you first got the idea for starting your own business?

I left Ireland in the 1980’s. When I returned in late 1999 I remember thinking I would do
10 more years in the land of the multi­nationals and then I would work for myself. I didn’t
have a clear business idea at that time but I knew that was where I was heading. During
the years that followed I did some facilitation work with groups of business owners from
the SME sector through Plato. This triggered a really strong desire to make best in class
HR accessible to the SME sector and in April 2009 Jan Harte & Associates was born.


If you had €10k to spend on promoting the business, how would you use it?

I would use it to build the company brand and gain an online presence as I’ll be bringing a
lot of my business offering online in the coming months.


Who has influenced you in the development of your business?

So many people and certainly too many to mention them all.

First and foremost are clients. Listening to what clients want has been a key influence on
business development. Mentors, family and friends, my mastermind colleagues at Plato,
my colleagues from the SmarterPreneur and Dare to Shine groups, authors I have read
and all the programs and networks I participate in have all influenced me in some way.
Surrounding myself with positive, ambitious people who offer challenge and support has
been a huge influence in the development of the business.


If you could meet the person you were one year ago today, what would you tell them?

Have more belief in yourself, take it one step at a time and you’ll get where you want to
go. Value your expertise. I would say to carve out enough time to achieve the growth you
desire and that half a day a week is not enough! Next would be to start building the team
and/or start outsourcing more work and finally, stop over­committing and make more time
to share moments and create memories with the important people in your life.


How long did it take for you to transition from “technician” to entrepreneur? (ok to say not yet!)

That’s definitely a work in progress!

I love the work I do and so I am still very much hands on and in the technician role a lot.
I do allocate time regular time to work ‘on the business’ and make sure it’s all moving in
the right direction. Finding the balance is an ongoing challenge, perhaps because I love
the technical side so much!


What would you do if you weren’t running this business?

If I wasn’t running this business I would be busy doing something else, running a different
business, studying or volunteering. I like projects and challenges and get bored easily so
I’d definitely be knee deep in something.


What approaches/techniques help you get the most out of your working day?

  1. Plan each day the evening before and make a to do list prioritising the top 3 to five tasks
  2. Work the List and eat your frogs early in the day, the more you do this, the easier it gets
  3. Check email in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the day to keep your focus and to be more productive, and you don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings.
  4. Stop over estimating what you can accomplish in a day and don’t over commit.
  5. Keep my energy balanced though I must admit this one is still somewhat aspirational.


What has your experience in SmarterPreneur Circles taught you about yourself?

One of the key things is the value of my knowledge, experience and expertise. Aodan’s
facilitation of the groups through various models, processes, frames and lenses has really
helped with this and has brought a new found confidence.

I’ve also learned that how much ‘mojo’ I have is directly related keeping my energy
balanced; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. For me it’s a mix of things like
adequate sleep, swimming, staying hydrated, prioritizing, and doing one thing every day
to move the business forward, not over committing, staying connected to people and
participating in mastermind groups.

Another major benefit of participating in SmarterPreneur groups is that you get a lot of
direct, honest feedback (both good and no so good) that, as a solopreneur, is hard to find
anywhere else.


How have you adjusted your business arising from your SmarterPreneur Circle

That’s a really good question! When I joined my first SmarterPreneur Circle I wasn’t clear
about the value my business services brought to clients and being part of the circles
helped me reconnect with my love of all things HR.

I had been searching for the sweet spot that would allow me to use a combination of HR
and all my other skills. Participating in the circles has helped me to find a way to make
that happen by going back to my original goal to provide best practice HR solutions to the
SME sector in a way that is affordable and accessible. In doing this, I enjoy employing
lots of other skills and modalities like Coaching, Mentoring, NLP, Training and Project
Management. It’s helped me find that ‘sweet spot’.


You can connect with Jan on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

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