Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight: Childrenswear With A Twist


Ever dreamt of jacking in your 9-5 job if you only had a viable alternative to run to? Have you ever wondered how it’s even possible to make money from something you love without compromising certain income and a safe future? Or maybe you’ve pondered how much experience you actually need in a field before jumping ship and creating a business from scratch?

As with most things entrepreneurial, Natalia and Tamara, founders of the beautiful childrenswear brand, Little Knickerbockers, challenge the norms we’re accustomed to believing. Giving down to earth insight about their path to entrepreneurial success, if you’ve ever wondered about starting your own business, this will give you a kick in the right direction. These are sisters with creativity, passion and business savvy to boot….

Over to you, ladies…


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?

We started Little Knickerbockers in 2011 and have carefully sourced items far and wide as part of our classic collection of clothing and accessories for 0-5yr olds. Affordable, with a dose of good old fashioned charm and a modern twist, these clothes are gorgeously timeless and original at the same time. You can check out out our online shop here.

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


As you can see from our collections, we just adore traditionally inspired clothes such as Peter Pan collars, bloomers, cords, smock dresses and rompers. When we started to have children we noticed it was difficult to find wonderful classic clothes that didn’t leave a hole in your pocket, so it all started from there.

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


We have been doing it through word of mouth over the last few years and found a good customer base online and at seasonal fairs. 

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


When people genuinely like and respond to the clothes

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?


Juggling the business and looking after our children.  

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


We use social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) but also use flyers and we include our own range of postcards with every purchase.

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?


When you’ve done your research and planning, don’t put it off – just go for it!

What’s Next For You?


We are thinking of doing some pop up shops over the year, and then who knows…hopefully even create a small line of our own!

How Can We Contact You?



Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You…


I was born with a tooth!!!

Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight: Gemma Tanswell: Dancer Extraordinaire





What shade of blue are your Sunday Blues and where do they take you? Turquoise oceans and stripey sun beds in the Caribbean with cocktails in hand? Or maybe you’re day dreaming of sunset skies across the River Thames as you stare out of your (make-believe) office window from home? Or are your escapist fantasies a darker shade of blue that see you wishing you could leave your daily grind more than anything in the world?

If any of these are you, this truly candid interview with Gemma Tanswell has your name on it. Creator of  Stage Plus School of Performing Arts, Gemma ignored the doubtors and stood firm to her dreams, creating an inspiring company that fufils her day in, day out.

So if you’ve ever wondered about jumping ship and creating your own business – your style – your way – read on. This is a lady with brains, beauty and business savvy in bucket loads…

Over to you, Gemma…


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do? 

I am the Owner and Principal of Stage Plus School of Performing Arts based in Princes Risborough, England. I’m a trained ISTD and RAD teacher and have also trained in Zumba and the Trinity Arts Award. When I’m not teaching, organising competitions, exams and shows, I’m trying to keep my school in the forefront through advertising, social media and all the general admin!

I’m also part of the creative team at Risborough Youth Theatre, work part time in a preschool (where I’ve taken my Levels 2 & 3 in CYPW) and have just started to write a family blog.

Aside from that, I’m a wife of 4 years and mummy to a gorgeous 2 year old boy!

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?


I started dance classes when I was 3 years old where I was a member of our local dance school, Sabatini School of Dance and Performance. I never took any exams – I just performed for fun and it certainly was that!

At 18 years old, I went onto North London Dance Studio where I spent 2 years training and graduated with a Diploma in Performing Arts, Intermediate and Advanced exams in Ballet, Tap, Modern and National. I then completed my teaching qualifications and updated others at the Linda Sweetzer Teacher Training College, taking advanced 2 Modern over the years, too!

In terms of work, I performed around the UK and worked in Tenerife as the dance captain on a new venture. I stayed out there for 2 years, where I performed as a singer and dancer as well as team leader and choreographer for a new version of the show. I returned home due to a death in the family in 2005 and shortly after the show closed down. On my return I taught for various schools in my local area while I decided what was next – which turned out to be meeting my husband!

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


A dream! When I returned from working abroad, I was freelancing at a few schools and covering maternity leave at Stage Plus when I was asked if I’d like to buy the school (the lady who had started it in 1983 was moving abroad). Although it was well established, there were definitely some obstacles – I would be losing the premises they were working in, for one. I paid a lot more money than I should have for the business but I was only 24 years old and it had been a dream of mine to own my own school. At that stage I didn’t think such an amazing opportunity would come up again.

I can’t believe I will have owned the school for 8 years in June!

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


A few years after I took over the School I rebranded it with a new logo, new website and new branded wear. I also did a lot of research into what my students and their parents wanted (I think it’s important to do this regularly).

Then the recession hit and caused a major set-back on our student numbers so things had to change again.

That said, I think change in general – and keeping with the times – is really important. In that vein, we participate actively on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and try to keep people updated online as much as possible.

In terms of internal management, workshops help us to access different dance styles and teachers and shows and festivals showcase our choreography and fabulous students (as well as showing the younger children and parents what they can aspire to do).

I also believe in the good old power of word of mouth. I have some amazing students and I’m lucky their parents recommend us all the time. It’s such a lovely feeling and it makes you feel very supported!

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


Seeing students go off to Professional Dance Colleges and pursue careers in the Performing Arts. I currently have students working on cruise ships, heading to the Royal Ballet to train, working in Disneyland, Paris and others who are performing in the West End. It’s lovely to have received so many goodbye cards and text messages full of gratitude for the part I’ve played in their achievements. One of the best moments was receiving a text message at 2am from an ex-student saying: “Sorry it’s so late but if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be having a drink and a chat with Matthew Bourne as we speak”.

We always say that once you’re part of the Stage Plus family, you never really leave.

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?

My Kids

Money. I love the school and everyone involved but there have been some tough times. When the recession hit, I had just taken on a new studio full time which was a massive outgoing. Although I was determined that this would build the school further, as money faltered, numbers dropped. However, we made it through and although I have had to make some serious changes, we are still standing and have new students starting all the time. I’m certainly in this job for the love!

What’s Your Favourite Event / Product / Service? 


I love to go to Move It at Olympia for the performances more than anything. It’s so lovely to see college students (some of whom are ex-students of mine) showing the world what they’ve got. It’s also a great opportunity to see what’s new in the dance world so I can take Stage Plus up a notch each year.

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


A lot of it is word of mouth. I’ve done lots of different advertising over the years but my website and reputation are the best sellers. We also perform at local fetes and have been involved in a lot of charity shows which means more people hear about us.

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?


It was an insult and a compliment in one – which propelled my career 100%!!

My Principal at Dance College told me I’d never be a performer but I’d make a fantastic teacher.

Of course, this only strengthened my resolve to perform and sure enough, I was one of the only ones from my year who went on to perform and here I am now with a dance school of my own!

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?


Take on board others’ advice but the best way to learn is by following your dreams. I’ve had many setbacks and many people telling me that I’m doing the wrong thing (including my parents and my husband) who, despite having really supported me, didn’t want to see me struggle at times.

Unfortunately, most of the time they ended up being right but the only way I learnt this was by doing it myself! I just knew I’d regret it if I didn’t try!

Although I definitely have an impulsive streak, nowadays I try to be more cautious by planning as much as possible!

What’s Next For You?

Nutritionist doctor woman isolated over white background

Wow, now there’s a question! There are so many things going around in my head at the moment……

In terms of the school, I’d like to offer a wider range of classes, build our student numbers and get a fab show under our belt for 2016.

I’d also like to train as a nutritionist and to learn more about the anatomical and physiological side of dance (I was inspired by a course i went on a few weeks ago).

On a personal level we’d love to expand our family.

I think 2015 and 2016 are going to be busy!

How Can We Contact You?


Website: www.stageplus.com

Email: stageplus@hotmail.com

Telephone: 07931 180 807

Social Media: Facebook and Twitter

Also: YouTube

What’s Your Favourite Quote?


Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….


I’m pretty good at face painting (completely self taught!) and have been put in charge of this at many show runs (imagine the animals in The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe…) Safe to say the comic relief events, fetes and birthday parties I’ve been roped into have turned out to be pretty hands on!!

Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight: Eco-Pet Pioneer: George Bramble




Hey there, wee Gazer! Happy Monday to you! If you’re feeling a little sluggish let’s kick off your week with a huge dose of entrepreneurial inspiration from George Bramble, co-founder of the award-winning, ‘green’ pet product and accessories company, Beco Pets.

Stocking an impressive range of eco-friendly products for dogs, cats and other pets, Beco exports products to 43 countries worldwide and are the UK’s leading poop bag specialists, selling more than 10 million bags worldwide.

And while poop bags may seem the stuff of giggles, with 8.5 million dogs in the UK alone, not to mention how much the Americans spend on their furry friends, George and his business partner, Toby, are a seriously enterprising pair.

So if you’re ever dreamt of changing direction career-wise but have no idea where to start, read on to see why you really should keep an open-mind about the direction you take. George’s innovation and motivation (which has seen Beco Pets featuring in The Times for selling chopsticks back to China in the form of dog bowls), is seriously rousing stuff…

Over to you, George


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?


I am the Co-Founder of Beco Pets, the UK’s leading manufacturer of eco-friendly pet products. I look after the sales and marketing side of the business and we sell to pet specialty stores in the UK and in 43 markets abroad.

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?

02-12 bacardi

Having left the University of Birmingham in 2005 with a degree in geography and environmental sciences, I started on a graduate scheme at a global drinks manufacturer Bacardi Martini, where I gained invaluable experience in lots of different areas of business, from finance to marketing and sales. But after four years I decided the company wasn’t for me and I decided to start my own business.

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


My inspiration was my brother Richard Bramble, who already ran his own successful business. I saw that hard work and dedication can lead to success and that the great thing about running your own business is that you are in control of your own destiny, which really appealed to me.

The other reason for starting my own business was having studied geography and environmental sciences at university. I have always had an interest in conservation and the environment so I decided that if I was going to make money out of a business, I wanted it to have an environmental and eco aspect to it – which is what inspired me to start Beco.

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


I was introduced to my now business partner, Toby Massey, through a mutual friend. I was sourcing eco-friendly products and Toby had vast experience in eco-friendly design and also, more importantly, manufacturing. We hit it off straightaway. He designed the products and sourced them through our network of factories in the Far East and I went about putting products on the shop shelves and the selling and marketing of the brand.

We have gone from strength to strength. From starting working out of Toby’s father’s garage in 2009, we now distribute to 43 markets worldwide and spend most of the year travelling round the world attending trade shows and seeing customers.

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


The UK pet product market is worth £4bn. The biggest highlight for us was conquering the American market. Last year we linked up with a US distributor and due to the size of the pet market there and Americans spending a huge amount on their pets and their eco purchasing decisions, we have grown tremendously. In fact, we have doubled our turnover in the last year.

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?


Any start-up business faces various challenges, obstacles and really hard work. I remember sitting on Toby’s brother’s office roof putting stickers on pet bowls for 48 hours straight, downing energy drinks to stay awake – all because we were on a deadline to fulfil an order for our first big distributor.

As for anyone running their own business, each day presents itself with hurdles to overcome but the biggest challenge for us came at the beginning when Beco wasn’t generating enough to pay our wages and we were very much living hand to mouth. But after a few months of hard work and tight budgets, we turned the corner and we haven’t looked back since.

What’s Your Favourite Product?


If someone had told me when I left university that I would be making my living by selling eco-friendly dog poop bags I would have said they were nuts. But one of the biggest parts of our business is selling degradable poop bags, so there is money in s**t after all.

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


We use good old-fashioned sales. It started with a phone directory and we began ringing up and selling our products on the phone, within the UK but also worldwide. When you are selling to New Zealand, it meant there were some 4am starts. And when you are selling to the US, you have to stay up late into the night. Now we have distributors in markets all over the world and a full sales team in the UK with reps on the road.

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?


We get compliments every day but the biggest compliment for me is when members of the public review out products online and say how much they – and importantly, their pets – love them and that they are so pleased that a company like Beco Pets is trying to make a difference to our planet.

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?


I’ll offer three pieces of advice.

1. Innovation And Hard Work


I was always told it’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog. Meaning that you have to give everything 150 per cent and always be thinking of clever ways to compete with your big rivals in the market place.

2. Cash Is King

In other words, keep on top of your cash flow. You might be selling millions of pounds’ worth of product but if you run out of cash your business is no more.

3. Listen To Your Customers


You might think you have the greatest product or service, but if your customers don’t, you haven’t got a business.

What’s Next For You?


We have enjoyed record growth and success in the last year and our next objective is to grow our international profile even more. We currently export our products to 43 countries around the world and it is my ambition to meet as many of our customers in the US and around the world as possible. Beco Pets has a fantastic profile in the UK and our eco-friendly approach to business is something we share with colleagues around the world.

How Can We Contact You?


Visit our website at www.becopets.com or write to me on hello@becopets.com.

What’s Your Favourite Quote?


Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….


One of the secrets of my success, I believe, is starting every day with a cold water lido swim as it gets my endorphins going. I always swim for up to 45 minutes. One day I’d like to swim the English Channel.




Got A Business Idea Minus The Cash? Pitch To Rich!




“I didn’t know the difference between ‘gross’ and ‘net’ until I was 50″

Richard Branson – who has a net worth $4.9billion

If you’re interested in setting up your own business and could benefit from seeing short videos of a whole host of people pitching their business ideas to a market leader, check out “Pitch To Rich” - a platform set up by Richard Branson through which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to him in an attempt to win up to £1million worth of financial support. What’s not to like?


Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight: Emma Storey






Ever dreamt of upping sticks from your 9-5 job if you only knew how to channel your passions into commercial reality? How the heck can professions like teaching be adapted to more entrepreneurial ventures spanning from London to Hong Kong and beyond? How much experience do you need in a field before jumping ship and creating a business from scratch? How do you motivate yourself when you’re your own boss?

As with most things entrepreneurial, Emma Storey challenges the norms we’re accustomed to believing, giving incredibly helpful insight and advice about her path to entrepreneurial success. So if you’ve ever wondered about any of the above, read on. This is a lady with brains, beauty and business savvy in bucket loads…

Emma’s company, Bespoke Tuition, is a seriously special tutoring outfit. Offering customised tuition for discerning families both in London and internationally, this is an organisation with quality at its heart. Comprising a 200 strong team of hand-picked tutors who are carefully matched to suit a family’s unique requirements, Bespoke Tuition is just that – bespoke.

So if you’ve ever found yourself sitting at your desk wondering how to go about setting up a business or how to combine your interests and your job, read on and be inspired…

Over to you, Emma…


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?

I source inspiring private tutors to motivate young people in their academics in the comfort of their home. Bespoke Tuition is based in London but also specialises in placing tutors with families overseas from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. 

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?


Photo 5_1


After 3 (enjoyable but not overly memorable) years in legal recruitment with Michael Page International, I resigned to discover something more personally stimulating. Given we spend more time with our work colleagues than we do our loved ones, life’s way too short to stick in a job that doesn’t motivate us.

Whilst exploring various career paths – personal training, interior design, researching whale sharks (!) – I took on some part time work as a private tutor in London. 2 hours a week swiftly became 30 hours a week. A year in, I got excited by the international scope of the role and became a ‘live-in tutor’ assigned to private family homes in Hong Kong, Australia, France and Switzerland. 

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?




It struck me that I wasn’t put on this earth to be a recruitment consultant! I always wanted to create something of my own and building a tuition agency was a natural progression from my own personal work as a tutor. Sitting behind a desk from 8.30am-7pm every day didn’t suit my lifestyle either; I find it hard enough sitting through a film at the cinema! 

I had also witnessed the pros and cons of different education systems and methods across the world, which fascinated me. The key driver, though, was my belief that I could improve on the service currently offered by tutoring agencies in London. Having personally witnessed the importance of a good fit between tutor and student, I felt that the process of matching a tutor with a student was under-estimated by many and that I would relish the opportunity of providing this personal focus.

Many people wrongly assimilate being an entrepreneur with being an inventor – the reality is that most successful businesses begin by recognising how you could deliver a service or product better than someone already doing it! 

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?



By never losing sight of my values behind and vision for the business. My tutors are ultimately my business product so a crucial part of building the business was picking the right representatives of my brand and never compromising on quality. By deliberately remaining small and bespoke, the business has remained efficient and sustainable. It also means that we have been able to grow organically as our tutors willingly recommend other tutors and clients recommend their friends.

Getting regular feedback from clients has also been a crucial part of our business development. Whilst it may go against human nature to actively seek criticism, collecting regular feedback and making subtle adjustments can make the difference between a mediocre business and a highly successful one. 

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?



It’s hard to single one out as every day is exciting when you are building something of your own. I’d have to say developing my brand in Hong Kong was a hugely exciting phase. Seeing the results of my team’s efforts is also a massive highlight – testimonials sent in from delighted parents and students so full of gratitude for our support makes it all so worthwhile! 

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?


Probably starting out working from home, which was pretty isolating having previously worked in a buzzy office environment. Whilst office space in London remains expensive for startups, fortunately there are an increasing number of co-working clubs and spaces in London which provide an affordable alternative and can also offer good networking opportunities eg Workpad Group, Google Campus, London Executive Offices, The Clubhouse and The Soho Collective. You can opt to use these spaces by the hour, by the day or commit to a monthly/annual membership so there is plenty of flexibility. 

What’s Your Favourite Product / Service? 


This month it has to be Barry’s Bootcamp as introduced to me by a girlfriend. It has a legendary following including A-list celebs, models—even Olympic athletes, its signature being hour-long workouts including 25-30 minutes of interval cardiovascular treadmill routines and 25-30 minutes of strength training utilising free weights, resistance bands, medicine balls and other equipment.

Trainers, muscle groups and even workout segments vary throughout the week so that no one class is ever the same. Their innovative technique works to “shock” the body in the most efficient and effective way to improve your cardiovascular system, lose weight and build muscle. Regardless of skill level, you can burn 1,000 calories in just one hour. It’s one hell of a work-out!

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


By never dropping standards and paying detailed and personalised attention to each and every client enquiry. Beyond a basic website, I rely on good old word of mouth to reach out to customers. If I was a parent, I would far rather use an agency recommended by a trusted friend than the one I saw on a billboard. 

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?


I spent 1.5 years living with an American family in Hong Kong tutoring their 13/14 year old son. I received a card from the boy on my departure which read, “I don’t think there has ever been a student in history who has actually wanted his tutor to stay.” 

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?

1. Just Do It


Stop talking about it and start mapping out the steps to achieve your goals today. If you believe in yourself and your idea, you are half way there but you must take bold action to turn it into a reality. Don’t be a drifter!

2. Be Clear On Your Goals And Never Lose Sight Of Them


From the outset, ask yourself why are you doing this? What are you trying to achieve? How will you be distinctive? If you stop caring, you will lose all momentum and the business will suffer so never lose touch with these goals and drivers. Goals will re-energise you through the tough times.

3. Take Charge Of Initiating Change


Take charge of your career and don’t wait for things to happen. I don’t make any New Year’s resolutions as I try to make them all the time – never cease to better yourself both in your personal life and your working life – there is ALWAYS room for improvement!

4. Avoid Being Reactive; Be More Proactive


Many of us are guilty of drifting through our jobs, trawling through emails from top to bottom and simply reacting to new email alerts. Your productivity levels will soar if you are disciplined enough to prioritise your tasks each day (even each hour)! In particular, set time aside for emailing and turn off the alerts when you are working on other areas; that way you won’t be distracted by any new messages popping up. Maximise your time as efficiently as possible and always leave room for business development so that you have things in the pipeline. 

5. Look After Your Employees 


Ensuring your employees feel valued and building their respect is a crucial means of developing a positive, enduring brand. Look after your employees, value their feedback and they will reward you by going the extra mile. Build a progressive and sincere ethos from within.

6. Stay True To Yourself And Your Values

growing tree

This applies in respect of your business planning and development. The most passionate and often most successful business owners I have seen have been those who have a little piece of them in their business. Absorb advice but trust your instincts and go your own way.

7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Making Mistakes 


It may sound cliché but some of the best business lessons are learned by a bit of trial and error. Turn negatives into positives and never stop learning. Learning to accept when you are wrong is just as important in business as it is in your relationships! 

8. Embrace Change


Your ideas will naturally evolve – let them, don’t limit them, you never know where they might lead. It is good to be channelled and focused with clear direction when starting a business but adaptability, self-reflection and foresight are also huge business strengths. 

9. Constantly Re-Assess And Re-Strategise 


Write down five adjectives of how you would like your business to be described then work on delivering this each day and make a point of checking weekly or monthly that you aren’t letting any of them slip. 

10. Learn To Delegate


Or you limit your business growth. It’s as simple as that. 

11. Go The Extra Mile


Be innovative, think outside the box, never tire of considering how you can add more value to your product or service and watch your competitors trail along in the dust! 

12. Enjoy Life!


Boundless energy and passion for your business idea is great but channel it and keep your priorities in check. There is little more important in life than the health, happiness, family and friends.

What’s Next For You?


A fortnight in Sri Lanka with family – being your own boss definitely has its advantages! 

How Can We Contact You?

Email: emma@bespoketuition.com

Website: Here

Telephone: 07732 371880

What’s Your Favourite Quote?

So many to choose from but if I had to pick a winner…


Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….

Bindi Irwin t 2011

According to the diary I recently discovered tucked away in a cupboard, my top five dream jobs were to become a marine biologist, a beach volleyball world champion, professional waterskiier, wildlife photographer or safari park ranger. Never say never!

DCE_Supergirl INT v01_r01.indd








Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight: Sky Man, Alex Ledger




SkySchool is a seriously cool British Adventure Sports company, specialising in Paramotoring, Paragliding and Skydiving. Set up in 2005 by Alex Ledger, a self-proclaimed university drop-out, it’s done pretty damn well for a bloke who jokingly referred to himself as ‘unemployable’.

Europe’s leading Paramotoring school, SkySchool runs an array of courses in Spain and the UK, boasting highs including Flying For Heroes, which saw SkySchool flying eight wounded ex-military personnel across Kenya in custom built paratrikes. Check out the expedition video below and catch a glimpse of some once in a lifetime stuff.

So if you’ve ever found yourself sitting at your desk wondering how to go about setting up a business, read on and be inspired…

Over to you, Alex…


Can You Tell Us A Bit About What You Do?

I’m a British Adventure Sports Athlete and Managing Director of SkySchool, which specialises in teaching people how to fly Paragliders and Paramotors in the UK and Spain. I also run APPI PPG, the International Paramotor Association, and I’m the founder of Flying for Heroes, which provides flying training and expeditions for wounded, injured and sick British service personnel.

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?


I opted out of University after one lecture and instead qualified as a skydiver, scuba diver and snowboard instructor in 2003 while travelling on my own around the world for a year.

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


I was brought up in a Military family and spent 3 years as a child in Cyprus rock climbing, snorkelling, cliff diving etc. During that time I developed an adventurous streak and after leaving school it became apparent that I was not only addicted to adventure sports but also unemployable! So it was a no brainer to start my own adventure sports business and when I was offered the opportunity in 2005 to take over a flying school, I jumped at the opportunity!

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


I started small and grew organically. I focused on providing as good and as safe a service as possible while maintaining good lines of communication. This meant that clients recommended us to others and returned themselves and as the company’s reputation grew, more and more people came to us. I also focused on cash flow, especially during the recession. Too many people have unrealistic expectations and try to run before they can walk which invariably leads to problems!

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


The biggest financial highlight was securing a six figure contract in the Middle East. However, this pales into insignificance compared to the Flying for Heroes expedition in Kenya which took 2.5 years to pull off and has led to some exciting plans for the future.

What Is Flying For Heroes About?


Flying For Heroes is a not for profit enterprise providing pilot training scholarships for wounded services personnel and veterans. It launched in July 2014 with an initial eight trainee student pilots. After their training, the pilots undertook a three week expedition flying Paratrikes and Paramotors across Kenya in partnership with Help For Heroes.

What’s The Goal Of Flying For Heroes?


It’s important that we recognise the bravery and sacrifices given by our wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen and to demonstrate to potential employers the capabilities, positive attitude and determination shown by all those who have served our country, been injured and are looking for new opportunities.

Learning to fly is an exciting, rewarding and enriching experience. Flying For Heroes aims to create a bursary to continue offering flying scholarships to our wounded heroes.

What Was The High-Point Of The Trip?


Being flown First Class to Kenya by British Airways was a pretty nice start!

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?


There have been so many big challenges. One of the biggest is continuing to improve one’s skills and knowledge without losing focus. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several exciting projects to get stuck into which not only allow the business to grow and develop but also keep me focused while continuing to improve and evolve.

What’s Your Favourite Service From Your Offering? 


My favourite activity is Acro Paragliding. I only teach this to people who I think have the correct skills and mentality as it comes with big risks but unbelievable rewards! This recent video sums it up.

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


Professionalism, reputation, good marketing, good web presence, good videos/photos/social media content and good communication with potential clients.

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?


‘Thanks for making my dream of learning how to fly come true’.

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?


I always advise any entrepreneur interested in starting a business to write a business plan. I think this is absolutely critical as you learn so much about what you are potentially getting yourself into. “Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”, as they say! I also advise that while running your own business brings a lot of freedom, be prepared for hard work.

What’s Next For You?


My next big project is a secret at the moment I’m afraid! It’s not quite as mad as the 2009 Flying Car project I was involved in but it’s just as quirky and, if I get it right, much more viable as a business!

How Can We Contact You?


SkySchool Website: www.skyschooluk.com

Flying for Heroes: www.flyingforheroes.org

Email: alexledger@me.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alexledger52UK 

Telephone: +447747097527

What’s Your Favourite Quote?


Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….


I used to be in the choir at school but can’t sing for sh*t now!










Entrepreneur Of The Month: Maudie Johnson, Yogi With A Twist


Looking for a yoga retreat in a sunshine-swathed location to cleanse the body, mind and soul? Look no further…

Maudie Johnson, founder of Loveyogabum, is the Queen of Zen, channelling heart, health and peace into intimate yoga retreats around the world. Combining tropical locations with an accomplished team of specialists and healthy feasts, Loveyogabum delivers the ultimate yoga experience, taking you on a journey that you won’t forgot. Whether a day, weekend or week retreat, you’ll leave inspired and enriched. 

Over to you, Maudie …


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?

In 3 words ….. I’m an Entrepreneur, Yoga teacher & Founder of Loveyogabum. 

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?


Chaos inside and out!! But this chaos led me to where I am today. My road to self acceptance has been bumpy and it’s a constant work in progress! I find affirmations and yoga have helped me hugely. The best time for affirmations for me is when I first wake up.  

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


A sense that my life was in my hands and I was in charge of making it what I will.

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


Through hard work, time, persistence and a belief in what I was doing. Oh and many mistakes!! But I learned that these mistakes really helped me stay emotionally strong when I might have been tempted to throw the towel in!

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


I think seeing transformation occur on our retreats for me is the biggest joy.  We have had people who perhaps didn’t even realise they needed a shift but have allowed themselves to be open and in doing so things have come up for them which is wonderful to see.

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


Good old word of mouth and reputation. Social media is also a powerful tool.

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?


Get stuck into doing something you love. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to dream big and make things happen. You will make mistakes but learn to love the journey as a windy road is far more interesting than a straight one!

What’s Next For You?


I’m off to the Turkish Coast for our next yoga retreat at my Garden of Eden, Suleyman’s Garden, with one of our amazing yoga teachers, Sarah Kekus. We’ll be practicing yoga whilst the sun sets over the ocean, unwinding in hammocks and eating healthy feasts to die for! I can’t wait!

If you’re interested in joining us, we’d love to have you aboard.

How Can We Contact You?


www.loveyogabum.com or you can email me at maudie@loveyogabum.com.

What’s Your Favourite Quote?


Something You Didn’t Know About Maudie…


Maudie is a firm believer in loving who you are are, inside and out. Beauty comes from within and vulnerability is your power. Harness it.

Entrepreneur Of The Month: Digital Marketeer / Website Designer


Looking for a web designer who combines visual, linguistic and commercial acumen and doesn’t break the bank?

Chris Sharp (otherwise known as C#) has set up two of my blogs/websites and delivered exactly what I was after. Many web designers quote extortionate amounts which simply aren’t viable for budding entrepreneurs, so if you’re looking for someone who’s new business friendly, with bucket loads of patience and helpful input to boot, he’s a tried and tested recommendation.

Over to you, Chris…

Chris Sharp

Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?

I’m a freelancer specialising in digital marketing. My main focus is on copywriting, primarily for websites, blogs and corporate white papers. I am also a dab hand at graphics and web design as I have the right kind of left brain-right brain mix to manage technical aspects with attractive design.

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?



I didn’t have a great deal of experience copywriting, only a good basis from university projects. But with a good mentor to help me along I quickly picked up what I needed to know to polish my writing to a standard that pleased my clients.

From the design side of things, I used to work in a photography studio and began picking up PhotoShop techniques. I later became friends with graphic designers at university who introduced me to other programmes such as Illustrator. Combining these with education in web designing seemed like the logical next step – bringing together my skills to create attractive, functional and well-written websites.

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


I decided to become a freelancer after travelling. The idea of being tied to one place was really difficult after having been so free. I started as a researcher and writer, making myself invaluable to a few different clients and that allowed me the opportunity to hone my skills in other areas, such as graphics and web design.

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


I was fortunate enough to be drafted in to help with two companies almost straight away. This gave me the financial security I needed to then go on and train in other areas, and clients are always happy if you can bring new skills to the table.

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


I once wrote a proposal for a new gym and boxing complex to be built in a deprived part of London. The project would be a big step towards rejuvenating the area as well as providing a healthy hobby for local kids. The local council accepted the proposal and it will be launched in the Limehouse area this Autumn.

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?


Once I was asked to write a wedding speech for the maid of honour. I had never met her, the bride, or the groom – which made it pretty tricky to start with – and then they asked that it all be in rhyming verse…

Another great highlight was hearing just how well the speech had gone down!

What’s Your Favourite Website/Blog You’ve Built?

There are too many to choose from but here are a select few:





Who Do You Write For?


Writing work is more difficult to give examples for, as most were ghostwriting for others. For example, I wrote the blog for www.adramatch.com for two years, but they sell automatic account reconciliation software, or www.oisg.com who sell computer stuff to businesses, or www.tribecaknowledge.com who sell software for pharmaceutical launches.

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


Most of my clients come through word of mouth. As you can imagine, it is difficult to know who and what you are getting with a freelancer – how easy are they to work with? Will they give you what you want? Will you pay through the nose? By going through recommendations both the client and I know that we are getting someone vouched for, and that adds a world of comfort and satisfaction to the project.

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?

Balancing the Accounts

There is a lot to learn, both in terms of your skill and in terms of just being a freelancer. The toughest one for me was budgeting. I’m not great with money to begin with, but when your income is not fixed, you have to pay tax and NIC at odd times of year, and you have other expenses such as a laptop and computer programmes, it can all get very tricky.

The next hardest part was correcting everyone who thought a copywriter put little © marks on things…

What’s Next For You?


I have had a lot of fun being back in the UK, but it is time for more travelling. Hopefully this time I can take much of my work with me!

How Can We Contact You?

Contact Us (2)

Through my website or email: c.sharp@see-sharp.co.uk

What’s Your Favourite Quote?

Oh, there are so many! As a copywriter I collect them. But if I had to pick one, it would be this: