Wednesday 27 August 2014

2Inspire Network Profile: Julia Smith, Co-Founder of Cre8 Sales Solutions

In this profile interview we meet Julia Smith, who is primarily a mum to two wonderful boys, swiftly followed by successful business woman and keen runner with a love of cooking – the last two go hand in hand, one cannot love cooking without some exercise thrown in.  Having worked in sales for over 20 years she is passionate about sales & marketing, and jointly owns and runs successful business development company with her long term partner in crime and bestie Tracy Gilmour. 

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
I take my boys to school first, so it’s always a busy start to the day. A bit like breakfast networking but with two boys to get my brain activated. At 9am I am at my desk, checking my to do list and seeing what the priority is. I generally start with ticking off the number one task, which is usually the biggest and one I may not really want to do, so I cross that off first. Then it could be working on a customer campaign, going for a meeting or networking event, working on a blog or some social media, writing a tender application. There isn’t really a typical day. I finish up with collecting the boys from school.

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
When my boys were quite young, I quickly realised that whilst I was working part time, I didn’t have the flexibility I really needed to be the kind of mum I wanted to. I also didn’t have the ability to progress further in my job whilst working part time. So self employment seemed like the logical choice. I started off by going to business events that were for mums in business to get inspiration and ideas, then other business events. I became a sponge and sucked up as much information as I could, before writing a long list of business ideas, and checking out every one before settling on working in sales & marketing, because it’s what I knew best and felt passionate about.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
How much I have grown as a person; growing a business grows you. Over 4 years I seem to have completely reinvented myself. It’s quite incredible the difference really, and my potential and comfort zone seems to stretch with each passing day. Also every day how I am able to be there for my children whilst being successful in business, loving what I do and providing an income for my family all at the same time. It feels amazing J

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Managing peaks and troughs, which provide challenges with cash flow, and juggling school holidays. It all makes it very interesting, but we’ve learnt far more during our challenging times than we do when times are easy. We welcome the challenges now for the lessons they give us.

What are your future plans for the business?
We want to keep growing, to employ more people so they have the flexibility we do, to work with young people and start ups and encourage them to give business a go, helping others through what we’ve learnt. We also want to work with the manufacturing and bioenergy sectors as we feel our unique approach to business development and telemarketing can be a real benefit there.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
We don’t believe in regrets; it’s been perfect as it is. Whatever was challenging we’ve learnt from. Maybe we could have invested differently – we spent a lot of money on SEO that didn’t work for example. But in essence we’re happy with how we’ve done things.

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
“Cre8 are the company we always turn to” Then we know we’re doing a good job from our customer’s perspective.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because we have so many demands on us that men don’t (in business at least). We love men in suits, but they don’t (generally anyway) have the kids to think about in the same way. Women will often sacrifice their own needs for their family, but we firmly believe that being a business owner means you can be a mum and a success in your professional life at the same time. You can have it all. We’ve done it and would love to help others do the same. One of our biggest lessons has been that being yourself brings the greatest success, which is why following your dreams is imperative.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Just do it. It would be so easy to sit and say “I don’t know enough”, “I haven’t got an idea”, “I don’t know what I want to do”, “I haven’t got any capital”. But business is a journey. Where you start is not where you end up. There are detours and diversions, some beautiful, some not so, but sure as eggs are eggs, getting started means you’ll evolve and develop and grow and end up somewhere else, which is better than not moving anywhere at all.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
Richard Branson. He never fails to inspire us. We love his approach to life and business, to take them by the scruff of the neck and just do it! He always seems to be himself and doesn’t aspire to be like anyone else, and that’s something we love about him, among a host of other qualities.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
We love inspiring quotes, but one of our big favourites is “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it”. It’s a Chinese proverb and we love it.

Friday 15 August 2014

2Inspire Network Business Profile: Doreen Balogun, Founder of Toast&

In this blog interview we meet Doreen Balogun, The Founder of Toast&, a London based bakery brand which is making waves across taste buds everywhere!

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

I read through my recipe books looking for new bakes I can add my own twist on. Baking takes up a whole day. I update my blog, Instagram and Twitter and I also research up and coming exhibitions and markets I can be a part of.

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?

My love for cooking, baking and creating new recipes made me start. I found myself thinking of it everyday. I started with an idea, making sandwiches and bread for my friends and family, getting their feedback. I used their feedback to alter my recipes and makes. Then I came up with a name for my business and the business idea rolled forward from that.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

Everyday is an accomplishment. I grow everyday with this business and everyday it builds momentum. It's exciting!

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

Not big challenges as of yet, more minor set backs. I have found at times, more in the earlier stages that my lack of research has held me back.

What are your future plans for the business?

I would love to own a bakery. Where you can get fresh bread and eat an amazing sandwich all in the same place with Nat King Cole playing in the background.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have started a lot earlier.

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?

'You're doing a great job'

'I love where this is going' and even more in my case 'everything tastes great...more please'

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

Being a woman, I think instinctively we want to be the one helping, aiding our friends, family or partner to get to where they want to be. We get so wrapped up doing that, we forget about our own dreams. It's not a bad thing at all but our own dreams need to flourish too. It's also important so we can have more female role models in business ready for the next generation of great women who operate their own business.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

Passion and research. These are the two things that got me started. Visit independent bakeries, bake like crazy and always ask for feedback.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

The great independent bakeries I see and have visited in London, their passion shines through the decor, the food they sell and their customer service. My mum as well, she is a great cook and has admitted she can't bake that well so one day I made it my mission to learn for her and provide her with as much coconut sponges as I could make. She's also great for an encouragement boost.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

There's too many, one is:

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination- Nelson Mandela
Then: I don't have money on my mind, money on my mind, I do it for, I do it for the love- Sam smith (my favourite singer right now)


FREE EVENT 28th August 2014 Birbeck, University of London (Stratford Campus): Ready, Set, Go: University students and Freshers

Birkbeck, University of London will be hosting the 2inspire Academy
event 'Ready, Set, Go', funded 
by Think Big with 02. The workshop will be taking place on Thursday 28th August 2014,
1pm-5pm at University Square, Stratford Campus.

'Ready, Set, Go' is a great opportunity for those about to start university, and current students, to start the academic year with insight that will motivate and inspire. This event will also provide you with information for success during and after university. These workshops are designed to give students a headstart......

Current Government findings have suggested that many young people are 'unemployable' after leaving school, college and university. The reasons identified range from: literacy, communication, awareness of the work place environment, and experience. In addition, there are so many young people who go to university and are unable to complete their course due to various issues such as: financial difficulties, time wasting, getting in with the wrong crowd, etc. 
These workshops are designed to address some of these issues.

Sessions will include:
  • A panel discussion with a panel of  successful university students who have made university work for them.

  • A presentation and Q & A session with representatives from top organisations, highlighting: tips and advice on employability after university, additional activities that companies look out for, advice on writing a winning graduate application/CV.

  • A 'Preparation for Higher Education'session for attendees to:
    a)      Consider benefits of study
    b)      Identify possible challenges and obstacles and find realistic solutions
    c)      Start planning for study – setting personal goals

  • A session that looks at managing your finances run by MyBnk, 'Uni Dosh'  looks at the following areas:
Money In: Student loans 
and repayment, part-time 
jobs and tax, bursaries, 
grants and scholarships. 
Money Out: University 
start-up shopping challenge, university lifestyle budget, student cost 
My Bank Balance: Student bank accounts, overdrafts, forms of 
payment, debit and credit cards. 
Your Money: Real life stories, student vox pops, action plan, 
Q & A, useful websites, tools and tips. 
'Uni Dosh' offers a comprehensive overview of university money matters and 
structures. Participants are encouraged to consider their personal 
circumstances, visualise their university lifestyle and gain a ‘reality check’ 
regarding the financial situations that students face. The workshop is 
designed to make young people plan ahead and evaluate the choices which 
they will have to make at university. 

This one-day event is to support young people with their career aspirations, while ensuring that they develop the necessary life-skills to excel whilst at university.
This is a FREE event, booking required. Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

To register attendance:
This event is sponsored by: Think Big 02

Supported by:

 MyBNK, Birkbeck, University of London, 2inspire Network & Jamaican Inspired UK