Tony Biola’s life’s mission is to engage, support and transform the lives of individuals serious about re-defining and finding their own definition of success, based on his personal wealth of experience over two decades working with some of societies most disadvantaged and marginalised communites.
This has included young people and adults who are either not in education, employment or training; involved in gang and criminal activity, from petty crime to armed assault and even murder; as well as single mothers who seek to empower themselves by starting their own businesses.
Tony uses a variety of tools in his empowerment portfolio which include:
- A mixture of Free and subsidised courses, workshops and programmes for youth, delivered through his charitable arm Urban Voice UK Ltd which is in its 12th year; as well as for adults through the commercial arm.
- The Grow Personal Success (GPS) members Club: which supports its members and their guests through regular networking events.
- GPS Mentoring: A 12-week acceleration 1-2-1 mentoring and coaching programme which focuses on helping individuals identify their natural talents, abilities and unique gifts.
What was the catalyst that made you decide to go into business?
The catalyst that made me decide to go into business was losing all my worldly possessions and family due to my relationship breaking down.
When you have lost everything you also lose your fear. I then decided to use this experience to refocus and start my business to re-define my life. I started to focus on my own personal vision of success so that I could live a happy and fulfilled life.
The sad thing is that family breakdowns are rife (whether through separation, divorce etc.) and has a major impact on not only you, but those around you. One minute everything is going well and then you have lost everything. I wanted to use this experience to test my mentors’ theory that “it is not what happens to you that is important, but how you chose to respond to what happens to you” as well as help others know it was possible to rebuild their life after a major setback.
What was holding you back from being an entrepreneur at the time?
Fear. That I was not good enough to set up a business, Fear that I did not know enough about business, Fear that I did not have enough funds, Fear that and then there was always that fear of losing everything.
In retrospect I believe these feelings came about from listening to some of the people around me as opposed to listening to my heart and following my passion. It’s really important to surround yourself with people who empower not disempower you. Retrospectively I believe that because I found my mentor whilst still in my teens, his voice over time became the one I listened to the most
Once I had lost everything I kept thinking about the impact this was having on my children. Their suffering made me angry and annoyed and wanting to do something about it. I channeled this energy in a constructive way by working with young people and creating platforms for young people to express their talent, dreams and aspirations.
What was the best business advice you were given?
Have a clear vision, plan, objective, goal and purpose for all areas of your life, of which your business is just a part. My daily mantra as a result of this advice is “Confusion is created through lack of clarity” If I have a degree of confusion in any area of my life this confusion is nothing other than an indicator to me that I do not have enough clarity.
I constantly refer to my life plan which includes my business plan to ensure that I remain focused on what and why I do what I do every day. This means when I move one step closer to the vision, then it’s been a productive day.
What is the most exciting thing happening in your sector right now?
Twenty years ago people in the UK laughed at my suggestion of taking on a coach or a mentor with a strong track record to help me define and grow my vision of success and what should be my business.
Today people are waking up all over the globe to the fact that you can define your own vision of success when you develop a “success orientated mind-set”. Also people have now realised that through identifying and taking on a good mentor or coach this guarantees that you can become more than you think you are, just look at the story of Usain Bolt.
This is exciting times because we are going to see more authentic, purpose driven people creating new solutions to existing problems through new and dynamic businesses, thus creating a better world for us all. I am excited and grateful to be a part of this revolution.
Personally I think having coach has made all the difference to my life and my business because they can see possibilities in you that you cannot see in yourself. This helps me to better implement opportunities that come my way, so my company stays current, relevant and able to stay one step ahead of the competition.
What are your customers demanding more from you at the moment?
Customers are requesting more support, guidance and information through mentoring and coaching on how to become empowered and Grow Personal Success through “Mind-set training” Information
More importantly my clients are understanding the importance of “Financial Literacy” (which is not taught within the education system). If we don’t understand how money works and how to use it more productively then we will be stagnant.
I believe many of us have a “Poverty Mind-set” that means even if you were given a million pounds you’d be unable to make that money work for you in the same way as someone who has financial literacy and a “Prosperity Mind-set. You can see this in lottery winners who lose their money very quickly. So it’s important to get the understanding and expertise you need to make your money work for you.
What social media tool are you using at the moment?
I currently use Hootsuite. This tool allows us to schedule posts (like our daily positive thought message) across a variety of platforms simultaneously as well as monitor interactions across these platforms.
What is your take on personal business failures?
I take a scientific approach to Personal business failure. The failure is merely proof that through the practice of the business operation it has been proven that something was missing from the business at the idea or planning stage.
If one is truly determined, a person will seek to identify the missing element(s) and like magic turn what was previously a failure into a success. Unfortunately 99% of business failures are because people fail to take this approach and ultimately give-up.
What is different that is making the difference for success in business at the moment?
A number of factors including the economic climate have ignited the spirit of collaboration. However the number one differing factor that I notice particularly in young people is a “fearlessness” the likes of which I have not seen before. When a young fearless spirit is harnessed with the wisdom of one who is mature and supportive the result can only be a successful outcome.
Who are you following on Twitter and why?
I do not do a lot on Twitter but I am currently following Oprah for inspiration and identifying thought leaders.
What book would you recommend for entrepreneurs?
I would recommend Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki for new aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to gain an understanding of Financial Literacy and Think and Grow Rich for those who have already identified their entrepreneurial spirit and understand how money works so that they can become successful in all areas of their lives.
What is your favourite quote and how are you applying this in your business?
“Through lack of vision a people perish”
As a result I revisit my vision for my life including my business on a regular basis.
What next for your business?
Currently we are looking at how we can continue to empower others.
I have recently returned from my vacation where I spent time with my son and daughter and they have inspired me yet again, as I see how the mind-set they have cultivated continues to pay dividend for them. As a result I am even more committed to this my mission to empower people through supporting them gain more clarity of their purpose and what’s possible.
We are running more Grow Personal Success workshops and are about to host our “Grow Personal Success Recognition” Awards.
For further information on youth programmes visit: www.urbanvoiceuk.com or Grow Personal Success visit: www.growpersonalsuccess.com