We talked to women from various industries:
When asked what factors they feel have contributed to their success, Rachel Smith said “I am constantly investing in my business and ensuring I stretch myself and don’t settle.”
It does seem to be that ambition is key, as Niamh Barker explains “I founded the business because I wanted a creative outlet that would fit around my hectic family life. I wanted more than just a run-of-the-mill kitchen business and it’s my striving for something more that has helped me to succeed.”
On the hardest challenge they’ve faced in getting to where they are now, Gemma Guise believes is “realising that when you start a business it takes over your life, if you are not careful you end up living to work. Not working to live.”
Equally, all these successful business women felt like Becky Barnes that “being self-employed is difficult. There are times when you have no money coming in and that can be scary, but somehow, you struggle through and find a way to make it work.”
The biggest challenge in establishing a company on your own does seem to be just that, “having the confidence to quit full time, feeling secure enough to set up on your own” said Jude Brooks.
Getting to know these successful women better, they all had someone who inspired them to take the leap and start out on their own. Lisa Roberts credits her mum, she was “raised to believe that anything was possible and that with hard work and conviction, she could do whatever she liked in business.”
Unfortunately, motivation often comes from difficult times in life. Rachel Smith found comfort in the loss of her friend “if she knew her life was going to be short, she wouldn’t be wasting her time not doing things she wanted to do” which led Rachel to establish her own business.
All the women we interviewed are married, apart from Jo Simpson who lives with her life partner, and the majority have children. It is impressive how these women manage to balance their family life with running a successful business.
Jude Brook’s husband still “thinks her decision to go self-employed is part of a mid-life crisis” while Gemma Guise admits that she “couldn’t have achieved half of what she’s achieved” without her husband by her side.
Julie Slater said when “there’s a mad rush, her husband and son operate as packing back up, under strict guidance” while Alison Savory wanted to highlight how “supportive” her husband is.
Running a business is a challenge and when asked how they do it all or if they had any survival tips, Becky Barnes advised “don’t measure yourself against others, it’s destructive. If you waste time worrying about what others are doing then you’ll lose focus of your own success”; just as Jo Simpson said “stay grounded and set realistic expectations.”
Doing what you love is key. Jude Brooks recommends to “figure out what really matters to you, where you get your energy from, what you love and what gives you meaning. Make a plan to spend as much of your time as you can doing that.”
Working from home, as many of these successful women do, Lisa Roberts explains how you have to “always keep business separate from home and family time. Make sure that there is a physical door that you can shut.”
Personal space is essential, especially when you’re running a company from home. Niamh Barker “converted the garage to have a space for the business” this ensures she “has a clear line between work and home.”
The women focused on the decoration and style of their space, like Becky Barnes who has “a small desk in the dining room. It’s quite pretty, it’s a small sleek white desk with a vintage chair” while Jude Brooke’s ‘she shed’ “looks like a little house.”
Rachel Smith used to work from her dining table, she explains “each day I ‘set up’ my office and if I tried working when the family were at home, I was totally accessible. On a call, I realised just how important it was for me to have my own space; my business was growing and I had confidential information to keep secure.”
Alison Savory values her space, she admits “I had no idea it would be so wonderful or offer me so much. It’s now my sanctuary as well as place of work and learning.”
Asked if having their own area or ‘she shed’ helped them recharge or keep organised, Becky Barnes said absolutely, “I definitely feel more organised and motivated now. It’s nice to be able to set boundaries and feel more official.”
Boundaries are a significant part of this personal space, Jo Simpson loves that she has to “walk out the house to enter it”, while Gemma Guise said her office helps “to separate work and personal life. We have a rule that no work is done in the house.”
Rachel Smith said “my office feels like my inner sanctuary- this is my space for working and developing my business. As a parent, it feels almost indulgent to have a room to myself, but I believe it has helped me to feel more professional and generate more business success.”
According to these women, their partners predominately have their personal space in the garage or shed. Lisa Roberts said her husband has a ‘man cave’, the walls of which are lined with books and vinyl records.”
Alison Savory commented that her husband has a shed at the bottom of the garden “a classic ‘this is where I can go to tinker with things’ that also doubles up as a space where we put things that we don’t know where else to go.”