AMID efforts to develop a more entrepreneurial culture in Scotland the experience of a woman running an international business provides a reminder that successful ventures can be created out of adversity.


Gillian McMichael.



What is your business called?

Full Circle Global.

Where is it based?

Our headquarters are in Edinburgh and we offer services from operations in London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, New York and Dubai.

What services does it offer?

We believe we help people to achieve the very best they can in their professional and personal lives. In many cases we help them to achieve a major change in their careers or lifestyle. We do this through a variety of career, corporate and life coaching services and training.

To whom does it sell?

Our clients range from business leaders of large companies looking to maximise the potential of their teams, to individuals at a juncture in their life who believe coaching can give them more confidence or resilience. We also provide training that allows people to become coaches themselves.

What is its turnover?

Last year our turnover was £252,000, and this year we are on target for a 78 per cent increase to £450,000.

How many employees?

Three full time staff and five part-time coaches and trainers. We also lean on a network of over 4,000 coaches who have completed our training.

When was it formed?

2010. I worked solo from my spare bedroom for three years, building up the company brand, my contacts and a solid client base.

Why did you take the plunge?

In my HR role I felt quite unfulfilled so I decided to invest in a life coach training programme and hired a life coach to help me figure out what I wanted to do. It was during that time I decided to set up my own business. Deep down I think I had always wanted to work for myself but I did not know how or what. Finding coaching gave me the direction and drive I needed.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

After 12 years in HR I realised I had amassed a huge amount of experience that I wanted to have greater independence to use. That led to me setting up my former business New U Coaching in 2004. It was a very successful business but it hit two major problems and I very reluctantly chose to liquidate the business in June 2010.

The first problem was one that affected many companies; the recession and the second was going through an expensive divorce.

It was sink or swim so I set myself up as a sole trader within a fortnight of liquidating New U and made sure the 100 plus clients, who had already paid to attend one of my open coach training programmes, received the training they had signed up for. This work took me until December 2010 to complete, during which time a previous corporate client also offered me a number of small projects. I renewed accreditation with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), something that was only made possible by honouring my commitment to the 100+ coach trainees. This kick-started my coach training programmes again and I was able to rebuild my business, eventually forming Full Circle Global.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I used all the savings I had. The funding supported me while I designed the coach training programme, started the ICF accreditation process and it paid for some marketing and advertising in a newspaper.

What was your biggest break?

The advert generated over sixty applications for my first coaching training programme and I delivered three full coaching programmes within my first year in business. During that year a friend introduced me to someone who worked at Taylor Wimpey Homes and I was taken aback when they agreed to hire me to deliver 360 degree feedback and coaching to their entire board. I went on to work with Taylor Wimpey for over four years, helping them develop their people and create a coaching culture within the firm. It was amazing. I asked a close friend to assist me with the work and she subsequently came on as my first full time employee.

What was your worst moment?

Losing New U was heart-breaking but having to let staff members go was the worst part of it. Rebuilding myself was a real struggle. I am so glad I had the resilience and strength to overcome it all.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The training room is still where I get the biggest buzz.

What do you least enjoy?


What are your ambitions for the firm?

Further international growth. We launched operations in Dubai and Frankfurt in October 2017 and momentum is building out there, so my aim is to have Full Circle Global operating in eight additional locations worldwide by 2027.

What single thing would most help?

To become more strategic.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Provide a platform for strong mentorship for SMEs; not just business advisors but people who have been-there-done-that. The other thing would be to recognise that SMEs can often be the most agile and creative kinds of businesses and should therefore be considered equally with bigger firms when tendering for work

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Don’t own rejection.

How do you relax?

I mediate, do yoga and run.