The Government’s Business is GREAT campaign supports small and medium sized businesses everywhere to grow and reach their full potential. I’ve been an ambassador for the campaign for a while now, and I was really pleased to hear its support for the Government’s announcement this week that women now make up one quarter of all board members in top UK FTSE 100 companies – bringing us a little closer to the goal of workplace equality.
started my own sauces and condiments business, Scarlett & Mustard, in 2012, and we achieved 300% growth in our first year. This was followed by 200% in the second year, and 80% in the third year. We started with one person (me) and I’m proud to now employ six full time staff (four of whom are women). From being stocked in just eight shops in July 2012, we are now in over 750 independent stores throughout the UK, including some of the most prestigious food halls such as Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. We are also in Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Booths. With the help of UK Trade & Investment, a support strand of the Business is GREAT campaign, we now also export to nine different countries.
I’ve learnt a lot on this journey and know how important advice and information from other businesswomen can be. My top tips for women looking to start or scale up their own business are:
Persistence and determination
These are two key qualities needed to get a business off the ground. Make sure you're fit and healthy as you will need to put in a lot of hard work, long hours and energy, with little payback in the first couple of years. Be prepared to be tired and grumpy and still have to be a nice person at home.
If you are in a busy household, then good time management, military routines and excellent communication with other members of the family are critical. If you get them all on board with what you're trying to do and appeal to them to help on the domestic front, then it will make life a lot easier.
I always make sure I have at least an hour's good exercise every day – for me this is taking the dogs for a brisk walk. I find it clears my head, and when the blood is pumping around my brain, it allows all the creative thoughts to come to the fore. I turn off the ringer on my phone to avoid the temptation of looking at emails and messages during my walk, but use it to record ideas and thoughts as they occur to me.
Let yourself be inspired
Having inspiring role models is important when starting out in business. Julie Deane from the Cambridge Satchel Company is an inspiration – as someone who took a nostalgic idea from their childhood and made it a huge commercial success.
By Sandy Ruddock
Sandy runs her own popular sauces and condiments company. She is an ambassador for the Business is GREAT campaign, which offers a range of resources for women on how to start, nurture, scale and grow a business, in addition to a wealth of inspiring stories from other successful female entrepreneurs.