Colin Dulson joins us to explains why he admires his wife and business partner Tina and what defines their way of doing business.
What do you currently do?
I’m the MD of Berrison, a leadership training and business consultancy based in Kendal, Cumbria. The company has a team of experts working with organisations across a range of sectors – building confidence and capability, coaching teams to build proactivity, and hosting conferences and team building events of all sizes. We help the learning and development of businesses all over the world.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
The outdoors! I started my career as an outdoor activities instructor and after working in the US and UK in various roles, I started working in the Outward Bound Trust, teaching personal development. This led me to setting up my first coaching consultancy, using the learnings from the outdoors and applying them to more traditional business needs. The same rules apply – knowing your goal, being agile, training well, trusting your team. It was a little bit different and offered a new approach to professional development.
Who do you admire?
My wife, Tina. We set up Berrison together (the company name is an amalgamation of our two surnames), and I’ve never known anyone work harder. She is great with people of all backgrounds and definitely the person that keeps Berrison moving in the right direction. Tina splits her time between our UK base – where she ensures the office is running smoothly and that all the team are in the right place – and on overseas activities, as she also works directly with clients. A great deal of our work is international so there is a lot of logistical detail, but Tina runs a tight ship.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
We started 10 years ago and while we had lots of enthusiasm and experience, we were a very small team at the start and spread ourselves a little thin. Our client base is all over the world – we manage a lot of work in the Middle East – so we were spending a great deal of time travelling, with no work-life balance at all. At one point, Tina and I were passing on planes in the air more often than being together – we realised that by practising what we preach and nurturing a strong team of associates, we would be able to continue doing what we love, while still having time to enjoy time outside work. Now our team is much larger. Over the last decade we have carefully and consistently built a strong team with the same approach to business and life – and that means that we can grow the company while sharing the work much more effectively.
What defines your way of doing business?
We like to put the fun into business learning. We create programmes that get everyone on a level playing field, break down barriers and help people enjoy the process of getting the best out of themselves. We have our own unique event products that move away from traditional ‘team building’ and really get people motivated, while recognising their own personalities and needs.
It’s quite simple: if people cannot bring their full selves to work then you are not getting the best out of them. People are more happy and productive when they operate within a supportive team. The more business managers listen to their team’s needs and give them a good work-life balance, they more their business will thrive.
Insecurity and poor working environments make people stand still or only do the minimum. We work with people at all levels to ensure they work to the best of their abilities.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Use specialists to help you, don’t try and do it all yourself. Get the right team and nurture it. Give your crew respect, training and autonomy and the outcomes will benefit you all. Stay healthy and embrace the outdoors – encourage physical health as it has a direct impact on mental health. Burnout can happen if you or your employees do not have a good work-life balance. At Berrison we’re passionate about helping all our clients love their work, as we love ours.