I can’t quite believe that I’m sat here celebrating the 15th year of Mrs Buckét; it really does only feel like yesterday that I was leaving school armed with £20 worth of black and white flyers and a box of doughnuts (old school, I know!), knocking from door to door to sell my cleaning services to anyone and everyone.
Fast forward 15 years and I now employ 250 people across Wales and The South West and have a turnover of nearly £3m.
It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a journey; no two days have been the same. There have been days where I’m ready to throw in the towel and other days where I’m ready to conquer the world. But I wouldn’t change of any of it.
Not only have the last 15 years taught me an incredible amount about business and entrepreneurship but, arguably more importantly, it’s made me learn a lot about my-self as a person.
At 18, I found out that I had achieved an unclassified in my business A-level but me being me, I bit the bullet and started up Mrs Buckét anyway. You are not defined by those results. You are defined by your passion and your drive to be whoever and whatever you want to be.
Entrepreneurship is hard, and when you start out it can be impossible to know where to start. I’ve had a mentor pretty much throughout the life of Mrs Buckét, and I still do. If you can, don’t pass up on the chance to have help from a mentor, they are invaluable.
The ego is one of the biggest risks to a business and most owners have to find that out the hard way. Luckily my mentor was the first one to tell me that to succeed, I had to get out of my own way. That meant making a conscious effort not to listen to the negative thoughts in my head or overwhelming anxieties and just get on with the job in hand.
In 2017, I took the difficult decision to sell the domestic arm of my business and focus solely on commercial. And whilst at the time it felt wrong that I was discarding my roots, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
It can feel scary to set goals, especially ones that seem frankly ridiculous. But with-out those ‘aim for the stars’ type goals, your business will become stagnant.
Mrs Buckét has now been subject to two big national crises, the 2008 recession and COVID-19. But what both taught me was that a crisis doesn’t have to be a fight or flight situation. For me it was a time to reflect on where my business has been and where it should be going in order to be the best asset for our consumers.
Of course, when looking to adapt or change your business, this will usually incur costs. Whatever you do, do not avoid opportunities to invest even if it’s not the most stable landscape, like a pandemic for example.
Over the past six months I’ve invested thousands in my staff, Mrs Buckét’s technology capabilities and our branding. Of course, it’s always a risk to invest, but more often than not, the return is worth your while.
A business should go way beyond the paycheck at the end of the month; your company vision, mission, ethics and values should all be part of your DNA. Brands that have a tangible brand purpose not only contribute to their community, they have more engaged staff, are of more interest to prospects and can build and create much stronger client relationships.
Being a woman still makes entrepreneurship a lot harder compared to our male counterparts; it’s not that we lack the necessary qualities of success, it’s that we’re still discriminated against because of our gender, whether consciously or not. Make sure you lean on your network around you when you need to, we’re all in it together.
The one way to fail is to be boring.” Wise words by Seth Godin that will forever stay with me. Companies that succeed stand out, they make a difference, they have a remarkable product. Now, more than ever, is the time to be seen and heard for doing something outside of the box.
You’ve built a business worth shouting about, so make sure you do just that. Invest in marketing, invest in PR and let other people know who you are.
Embrace it, allow it to humble you but don’t let it control you, and you’ll be a better businessperson for it.
To keep your motivation and passion fresh for your business challenges, take regular time out to challenge yourself as an individual. I recently did a 10-day trek around the Italian Alps and it transformed me as a human being and a leader.
Give away your years of experience to others through mentorship, apprenticeships or training sessions in the same way others did for you when you started out. Believe me when I say it will be the biggest reward of all.
No matter how big you get or how rich, remember those first days. Remember the struggles and the challenges, be grateful for all of those around you who helped your get to where you are and, most importantly, be proud of what you have achieved.