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 find funding for a business idea when you cannot stump up the cash yourself.
Q) I am 65 years old and have always been ambitious – even now, I have a small window-cleaning business I work on part-time, which I really enjoy.
Recently, I’ve had an idea that I think could help victims of domestic abuse and I really believe in it, but as I don’t have the finances to invest, I’m not sure what I should do with it.
I’ve spoken to an innovation company, but they wanted £ 500 to do a patent search, which I can’t afford. Do you have any advice about how to move my idea forward?
Lorraine, via email
A) Turning an idea into a business is no easy feat, but there is lots of guidance and resources available, and you sound ambitious and determined enough to make it happen!
You can get help from a local patent library – qualified staff can assist you in searching for a similar idea much more cheaply than using an innovation company. If you don’t find anything similar then you can progress your application.
However, patenting a concept can turn into an expensive process, so you will likely need some funding.
I would recommend drawing up a non-disclosure agreement that you request to be signed by anyone you plan on discussing your idea with – Gov.uk has a useful step-by-step guide to this.
Without an NDA, you are taking the risk that others could use your ideas or information without your permission.
Also search online, as there are numerous social enterprise grants that you can apply for.
In addition to funding, these offer mentorship, resources and networking opportunities, which could be extremely helpful for you.
Best of luck!
A day in the life of …
Dr Chloë Butler, 45, is the founder and CEO of Eighth & Eden, an aesthetic and wellness clinic. She lives in Worcestershire with her husband Greg, 50, and their 11-year-old twin daughters Francesca and Georgina.
I wake up at…
6.15am. I go straight into the shower, where I mentally map out the day. I have a religious pre-make-up skin routine: SkinCeuticals Vitamin C Serum, Medik8 Hyaluronic Acid Serum and a SkinCeuticals SPF. After the school run, I drop our four dogs into doggy daycare, then I’m home by 8.30am.
A normal day involves…
I walk the two minutes to the clinic – we live on the 14-acre site – arriving at 8.50am for a team huddle over a cuppa. We may have some VIP guests – in the past we’ve welcomed Jo and Leah Wood and Chloe Delevingne – who get extra pampering and a private relaxation area. The clinic is very calming. We spray our signature fragrance, which has notes of geranium, sandalwood, musk and warm spice, and light candles everywhere.
While my husband handles the website, HR and finance, I’m back-to-back with clients doing facials, fillers and other treatments. To expand the business, I’m taking tiny steps back from a client-facing role, which isn’t easy, as customers often only want to see me!
Everyone takes an hour for lunch, and I’ll usually pop home to make Greg and me omelettes or smoked salmon and avocado on rye bread. I’m home again at 5.30pm, preparing dinner as the girls chat to me. If I work in the evening, I’ll be looking on Pinterest for inspiration for treatments or clinic decor.
The best part of my job is…
Doing something that makes people feel better. I also love the fast-paced nature of the business, how it’s growing and my ideas coming to life.
And the worst…
In my previous career as a dentist, I used to close the door and forget about work. Now work is consuming, which can get a bit much. But it’s a small price to pay for what we’ve achieved!
I wind down by…
Walking the dogs. Once the girls are in bed, the question is: “What can we stay awake for on Netflix?” I’m always in bed by 10pm.
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.