Starting my business: The one thing I wish I'd known

Content supplied by Barclays

Coffee and diary on deskStart-up advice


"You push yourself harder than any boss"
Galia Orme, set up CHOC Chick three years ago, which supplies chocolate making kits to major department stores  

"I thought working for myself would give me a better work/life balance. The reality was I had less time than ever to spend with my husband and two daughters. I ran myself into the ground, working through the night, getting up early, making packed lunches, doing the school run and never switching off. Now the business is finally off the ground I make sure I take regular breaks during the day, and NEVER work at weekends." 


"You have to be a fast learner!"
Gina Cross set up online gallery A Little Bit of Art after taking voluntary redundancy from her job on a national newspaper      

"When I first set up, I was mainly selling prints at art shows and pop-up shops. The turnover was good, but I soon realised I'd need a crash course in marketing for the business to grow. I went to a few seminars and took part in a mentoring programme run by Buying Vision that helped me set goals for the business. I was also given a subsidised place on an Access to Finance programme. I learned masses about raising the profile of my company, including setting up mailing lists, embracing networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and sponsoring blogs. My skill set must have increased tenfold in the last year!"


"You have to penny pinch"
Claire Young, has started up three businesses since she was a finalist on The Apprentice in 2008

"When I set up my first venture, Elegant Venues, I made the mistake of spending thousands on new computers and software. In hindsight, I could have used cheaper solutions, such as IT Farm, where you pay a monthly fee to access their software through the internet, rather than investing in your own. None of it's on your hard drive so you don't need back up or a vast memory. I've since started up a new venture, School Speakers which provides motivational speakers to give talks at schools, and I'm still super canny and watch every penny going out."


"You have to be open to change"
Chantal Therien, left her job at the BBC in 2009 to set up designer technology accessories company Pipetto

"When my products first launched in Selfridges, they were very luxurious – and sold at twice what they do now. It quickly became apparent however that there simply wasn't enough volume in the designer market to sustain a profitable business. I had to quickly rework my range to make it more accessible to a wider distribution, so sought advice from retailers and manufacturers. The feedback I got on price, materials, market and industry trends helped me develop a great range of products and the business is now thriving. The experience taught me that building a strong business network is everything."


"You need to grow a second skin"
Maria Joy Davison, recently set up Mini Makers, which runs arts and crafts classes for pre-school kids

"The customer is always right, but they're not always polite. Soon after I first started up, a parent arrived half an hour late to a class and when I mentioned this she became furious, insisting I had the time wrong, not her. Even though she was clearly at fault, I let her stay free of charge and thankfully she returned the following week. I've learned to toughen up and not take criticism personally. After all, client feedback is one of the most valuable business tools there is."

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© CHOC Chick 2011. Sourced June 2011.
© A Little Bit of Art 2011. Sourced June 2011.
© London Development Agency 2011. Sourced June 2011.
© IT Farm 2011. Sourced June 2011.
© School Speakers 2011. Sourced June 2011.
© Pipetto 2011. Sourced June 2011.
© Mini Makers 2011. Sourced June 2011. 

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Last updated: 30-Jan-2014 at 4:53 PM