Business management

Rethinking what’s good for business

Many of the things people see as barriers to starting or running a business can actually make a business strong. These perceived barriers can come to define a business and drive its success.

Clare Villar, Clare Villar Military Art

Clare Villar had trained as an illustrator, but hadn’t been able to pursue her craft full-time. Then, all of a sudden, she found herself working in a style that was not only completely new to her, but hadn’t been popular for a hundred years. In 2002, when the colonel of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry requested a roll of honour, she jumped at the chance, despite having no calligraphy experience. Fast forward and Clare has carved out a niche for herself producing these beautiful works of art that feature the names of every serving member of the regiment painstakingly hand-lettered.

I’m really excited by how far I’ve come in the last two years, purely through hard work, determination and passion

Clare Villar
Clare Villar Military Art

Ade Hassan, Nubian Skin

Ade Hassan started  Nubian Skin  when she found there was something she needed that didn’t exist yet in the UK: no one catered to women of colour when it came to ‘nude’ lingerie and hosiery. Since she founded the company, Nubian Skin has been met with all kinds of success, steadily growing throughout the years. Now Ade stands ready to scale her business to the next level.

I was working in finance when I received a card from a friend which said, ‘It’s time to start living the life you’ve always imagined.’ That was really the push I needed to start working on Nubian Skin

Pravin Isram, Canvas Coffee

Growing up, Pravin Isram had always been fascinated by business, but never dreamed he would start one. Years later, driven by a cause that was close to his heart, he started up  Canvas Coffee . To the consumer, it’s simply a great coffee shop, but behind the scenes, Pravin and his team work with people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. So Pravin went from having no experience in hospitality to running a successful coffee shop that doubles as a social enterprise, making a real positive impact.

Starting a business was terrifying, but I knew we could create something that had a positive impact

Pravin Isram
Canvas Coffee

Rob and Luke Ellis, Ellis Plumbing & Heating

Father and son Rob and Luke Ellis hesitated to start their plumbing and heating business because they feared failure. They had no entrepreneurial experience and no clients, but they trusted one another’s capabilities, hard work and desire to create something for their family. Based in the Blackpool area, Rob manages the business while Luke handles the plumbing and heating. The collective strength of the father-and-son team has turned Ellis Plumbing & Heating into a successful enterprise that’s still growing.

I love running a business with my son – it’s been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life

Rob Ellis
Ellis Plumbing & Heating

Dylan Watkins, Poppy’s Picnic

Based in Wiltshire and using locally sourced ingredients,  Poppy’s Picnic  is a raw dog food business that prides itself on making dogs healthier. After being fired from numerous corporate jobs, Dylan Watkins felt self-doubt creeping in, but knew that starting his own business could give him the freedom he needed. He had an idea, found confidence in himself, and smashed through the self-doubt, allowing his passion for the business to shine through.

Passion is really important. Your team feeds off it, your suppliers feed off it, and your customers feed off it. If you’re passionate about your product, they’ll be passionate about it too

Dylan Watkins
Poppy’s Picnic

Asma Khan, Darjeeling Express

Darjeeling Express is Asma Khan’s central London restaurant where she serves a taste of her home, Kolkata. After bringing women together for supper clubs, Asma eventually realised she had the talent to cook for a career. She had thought only men owned business, but she found the confidence to believe in herself and the women who make up her all-female kitchen. Asma continues to run the show, and she does it all in her own, authentic way.

My advice to anyone starting a business is to keep the vision of victory in your head... You need to know that this is a tough road, but you also need to know that you are going to win

Asma Khan
Darjeeling Express

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