APPRENTICE star and West Ham United vice-chair Karren Brady answers your careers questions and meets an inspirational CEO.
Here she gives a reader advice on how to make consistently high sales.
Q) I started my own company 12 months ago, selling customised and printed clothes and stationery. I’ve made enough money to provide me with a decent wage, though I never really switch off from the business.
However, I want to try to grow it into something bigger and perhaps take on someone to help run it.
My problem is that some months I have more orders than I can fulfil, while others I have less than half the amount. I’d like things to be consistent – but also not too busy! Do you have any advice?
Nadia, via email
A) Being your own boss does mean rarely being able to switch off from your business, but in my opinion it’s the best job, as you get to reap all the rewards.
It’s great you are ambitious and can see further growth in your business. It sounds like you need to create a strategy for increasing orders during quieter periods, so look at when these are and plan some extra promotions for those times.
For example, I’m sure Christmas is a particularly busy period, but summer may not be, so plan some summer-party-type promotions to increase demand. Make sure you’re contacting previous customers to see if they want repeat orders, or to share any new products you’re now offering.
In the short-term, you could look for a part-time employee that you can put on to a casual contract, where you only give them hours when you actually need them.
The first few years of a business can be very unstable and demanding, so do seek financial advice if you need extra guidance about how to best invest capital into your business, plus find a mentor who can advise you how to grow yours.
A day in the life of…
Deirdre McGettrick, 34, is the co-founder and CEO of furniture comparison site Ufurnish.com. She lives in east London with her business partner husband Ray, 40.
I wake up at…
7.30am. I’m straight in the shower, then I switch on my laptop and check for meetings that day. I make a coffee, munch down a bowl of honey-drizzled cornflakes and, if my diary’s full, I’ll get ahead by doing a staff member call at 8am.
A normal day involves…
My husband and I live and work in our two-bedroom apartment. I take the spare room, while he works from the kitchen. Normally I go from call to call, presenting our company to investors, potential employees and retailers.
I established the business after buying our apartment in 2017 and struggling to find a way to search the entire furniture market, like you can when house hunting. I was working in investment banking, but in March 2019 I left my job, and in just three years we’ve recruited 20 staff and signed 170 retailers, from John Lewis to Tesco Home.
My role is varied – I’m involved in HR and finance, plus I have a law degree so I’m responsible for company contracts. It’s also my job to get our story out. I’m always approaching journalists and influencers or I’ll source partnerships to drive awareness.
Recently, I was in San Francisco with Sadiq Khan, who flew out 11 female tech company founders to promote UK business. Before that, I was at the Grand Designs Live event in London speaking directly to customers, which was incredible!
The best part of my job is…
Meeting new people and learning on the go. There’s a nice pay-it-forward attitude in the business community. I’ve raised over £3.5million through individual investors who have built impressive businesses. It’s phenomenal to get their advice.
And the worst…
Facing challenges and thinking: “I’ve no idea how to solve this.” Often it’s a matter of talking out loud – a problem shared is a problem halved – then I break it down bit by bit.
I wind down by…
After my last call at 6pm, I have dinner with Ray and watch TV for an hour, then work for another three hours – I’m often in my own world listening to Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi.
Be a boss
Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.
It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!
Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.
Compiled by: Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert
Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.