Karren Brady’s career advice on on how to succeed in launching a business


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 succeed in launching a business.

Karren Brady, Baroness Brady, CBE is a British business executive and television personality


Karren Brady, Baroness Brady, CBE is a British business executive and television personality

Q) Over the past five years, I’ve started three different small businesses, but none of them have succeeded long-term in making me enough money to live on, and it’s getting me down. I’m the kind of person who works better on my own, so I don’t want to have to get a job in an office or in retail, but I do need to pay the bills. I always have loads of ideas for businesses.

I could start, whether that’s selling products or providing services people need, but after an initial flurry, things start to peter out. I really want to launch a business that succeeds – do you have any advice?

Amy, via email

Karren Brady’s career advice on how to sell your boss on a passion project
Karren Brady’s career advice on taking up a side hustle

A) You’re obviously good at ideas, but something isn’t working when it comes to turning those ideas into a successful business. Take an honest look at those ventures that have failed and ask yourself if there was anything you could have done differently.

Are you researching your ideas so you can be sure that the product/services are actually in demand, as well as sustainable in the long-term? Did you launch into an overly crowded market, where you struggled against established competitors? What was the feedback from clients? Did you lose interest in the business yourself?

Consider getting a mentor, and think about what you could offer them, too – make it mutually beneficial. At West Ham, for example, we offer reverse mentoring, where more junior members of staff mentor senior staff on subjects such as social media.

Most of all, stay realistic with your expectations, don’t get into debt and be resilient. It’s not the amount of times you fall down that matters, it’s how many times you pick yourself back up. 

A Day In The Life Of…

ROMI Savova, 37, is the CEO of online pension provider PensionBee. She lives in Pimlico, London, with her entrepreneur husband Alfred, 41, and children Ari, five, Gia, four, and Marc, eight months.

I wake up at…

6.30am. I only have a coffee in the morning, but I prepare a fruit and porridge breakfast for everyone else and by 7.15am I’m spoon-feeding Marc a blended portion. It’s my favourite ritual of the morning. Most days, I work at our office in Southwark – I like a separation between work and home life – and either travel there by Tube or do the three-mile walk while making calls.

A normal day involves…

After catching up with risk management at 9.15am, I dial in for a company meeting, where we run through daily tasks. I oversee every department, including finance, marketing, design and product operations, but not technology, because I don’t have 

a background in coding and development. I head home at 6.30pm to supervise tea and teeth-brushing, before reading a story. Putting away my phone helps me switch into mum mode, but talking to the kids about work and money means I don’t feel guilty for being a working mum. My parents are doctors and taught me the power of doing something meaningful – I hope my kids learn that from me. Gia wrote in her nursery yearbook that she wants to grow up and earn coins!

The best part of my job is…

Hearing from our customers how PensionBee has financially empowered them. I founded the company in 2014 to help people easily take control of their pensions and I love giving 

our customers tools to feel confident for retirement.

And the worst…

I get frustrated if I feel our purpose and vision are not understood, which sometimes happens in an outdated sector. For example, pension providers told us that customers would never go fossil-fuel-free because oil companies are a great investment. But our fossil-fuel-free pension plan is one of our top-three investment options – with hundreds of millions of pounds invested in it – proving otherwise!

I wind down by…

Running – sometimes I run home. Once the kids are in bed, I tuck into pasta or a salad with a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beer. Visit Pensionbee.com

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