15 May 2017
In the years since the 2008 recession, the number of self-employed women has risen by 40%. According to the FSB, women now account for around a third of the UK’s self-employed. Women entrepreneurs have a lot to offer so, to help business people of both sexes, we’ve pulled together advice from the UK’s top five celebrity businesswomen.
Deborah Meaden is a leisure and retail executive, and a Dragon’s Den stalwart. She says that to be a successful businessperson, you must be decisive. When you’re at the top, you are going to have to make some tough decisions in order to keep the business going, and you can’t afford to dither. “Doing nothing is the worst business decision you’ll ever make.” She is careful to highlight the difference between being tough and being hard, saying that “people who are hard don’t consider the consequences of their actions and certainly don’t care about them. People who are tough consider the consequences of their actions, weigh up the alternatives and decide on the strategy they believe is best for the whole business.”
Baroness Karren Brady is CEO of West Ham United Football Club. She made her name when she became the Managing Director of Birmingham City FC at the tender age of 23 and turned the Club’s fortunes around. Her advice is to encourage all your staff to understand the effect that any of their actions will have on the bottom line. “The best businesses, whatever their size, have a small business mentality. In my companies, anybody who wants to order anything has to get three quotes, and if they don’t want to go with the cheapest, explain why. This keeps everybody thinking about the bottom line.”
Home design guru Kelly Hoppen’s advice is to turn to others for advice. This is especially important when you’re just starting out, and if you don’t have family or friends who can provide the right advice, then she suggests talking to other entrepreneurs at networking events as “a great way to get advice and learn from others”. She suggests finding someone to mentor you, and also to spend time researching the methods of business people you admire that you can adapt to your own business.
Ruth Badger is well known as the most successful contestant on The Apprentice who didn’t get hired. She has since gone on to launch her own business consultancy and sales training organisation. Her advice is “Don’t just talk about it, do it!” This means being pro-active in terms of keeping on top of your finances and cash flow, setting targets and plans on how you to achieve them, managing your sales team and making sure leads are converted into deals, being realistic about what you’re going to do and when, then stick to the timetable to make sure it happens. She also advises facing problems head-on. “It’s all too easy to pretend it’s not happening or shoulder too much responsibility yourself. Make sure you face up to any problems you may have and share them with those who may be able to help you. If some more hard work is needed to bring your business up to par, make sure the right people are in the know and understand their role in putting it right.”
Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers, understands the importance of good support. She built her empire before business networking took off in the UK and found “there was quite a negative image of entrepreneurs” which made things a lot more difficult for her and her fellow entrepreneurs. Her advice is to take advantage of all the support start-ups and entrepreneurs are offered these days: “There are also so many government grants and mentoring packages out there. Research all the available options and get as many mentors on board as you can. They don’t have to be big names or high profile, just those who have been there, done that and can provide insight.”
One way of getting informal business support is to base your business in a co-working hub. Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs gives you plenty of opportunities for informal networking and formal collaboration. If you are looking for office space in the centre of Hertford, contact us to arrange a viewing.