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11 Invaluable Business Tips from Successful Women in Britain

Advice from the founders of Mumsnet, Cath Kidston and more.

If you want to start your own business or if you've already done so there are a lot of decisions you will need to make. Whether you should go solo or with a partner? Whether you need to worry about branding? Who should you hire? Should you collaborate with others?

With more than 50 percent of new high street businesses in the last two years being led by women , I thought it appropriate to look to some of Britain's most successful female entrepreneurs to help us lead the way.

Getting Started, Customers and Getting Help

Jo Malone

Video / BySmarta

Jo Malone started out as a facialist before starting up her own fragrances and perfume business. She went on to sell her business to Estée Lauder in 1999 for an undisclosed sum.

  1. "Create the hunger for your product first."
  2. "Give part of yourself ... the biggest mistake big businesses make is that they become detached from their consumer."
  3. "Don't try and do the things that you're not good at ... don't be frightened to ask for help."

Partnerships and Being Sidetracked by the Next Big Idea

Sophie Cornish's Top Business Tips

Article / BySophie Cornish
Sophie Cornish is the co-founder of Not on the High Street. She started the business in 2006 with her friend Holly Tucker. Their annual turnover is now over £15 million.

  1. "The key to creating and maintaining a fantastic working relationship really is communication, which is especially vital if you are going to go into business with a friend, like I did."
  2. "New ideas are all well and good, but not at the expense of the idea you are already focused on for your business."
Sophie and Holly offer more advice to entrepreneurs in their books Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table and Shape Up Your Business .

Belief, Service and Hiring Talent

Crib Sheet: Natalie Massenet, Founder of Net-a-Porter

Article / ByAddy Dugdale

Natalie Massenet launched the online luxury fashion shop Net-a-Porter in 2006 just before the first Internet bubble burst. The store, presented in the style of a fashion magazine is credited by Vogue for "revolutionizing the way we buy designer clothes".

  1. "I was completely confident. I never thought it wouldn't work. I never once thought it wouldn't be huge."
  2. "We owe it to our consumer to offer her various options for how she wants to shop, we shouldn't impose rules on her."
  3. "I've always had the creative and fashion role, and I've always surrounded myself with good business and financial people."


Cath Kidston's Business Secrets

Article / ByEmma Pritchard
It's nearly impossible for me to walk down my local high street without glimpsing one of Cath Kidston's instantly recognisable bags. This is not surprising considering that more than 50 percent of woman between the ages of 16 and 65 are aware of the Cath Kidston brand.

  1. "Being consistent and not chopping and changing our signature colours and typeface was really important in order to build recognition and be easily identifiable."
Learn more of Cath's business secrets from her book Coming Up Roses .

Authenticity and Collaboration

Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton: 'Flexible working makes economic sense - it's not about being nice'

Article / ByCarrie Longton

Carrie Longton is the co-founder of Mumsnet which is the UK's largest network for parents. She was also ranked seventh in Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour list of the most powerful women in Britain.

  1. "Being authentic online is not an optional extra. Being seen to listen and ’fessing up if you make mistakes is vital if you want to build trust."
  2. "Collaboration is the key to successful business. Whether it’s brainstorming with the team, with brands or even asking the Mumsnetters for their opinions, I have always valued teamwork and think you can achieve so much more in collaboration than by working alone."

Related Books

How They Started Digital

Book / ByDavid Lester

This book profiles some of the biggest internet success stories, including Mindy Candy (Moshi monsters), Mumsnet, Etsy, Asos and Net-a-Porter. The businesses covered are divided into six sections; entertainment, social media, leisure & content, retail, finance & comparison and technology. For each you will learn; how they came up with their one big idea, how they decided it was viable, why they chose that name, how they made their first sales and what challenges they faced.

Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table

Book / BySophie Cornish, Holly Tucker

From finance and marketing to PR and getting your workspace right, these ladies share the lessons they had to learn the hard way when building Not on the High Street. They've drawn on their own experiences as well as those of the 3,000 independent businesses they work with.

Coming Up Roses: The Story of Growing a Business

Article / ByCath Kidston

For Cath Kidston it all started with an ironing board cover. In this book she shares the ups and downs of growing her business into the internationally recognised household name it is today. And of course she offers her insight on creating a brand.

I am the founder of I love reading personal development books and try very hard to implement the stuff that resonates with me. For the most part I am paralysed by fear and indulge in the fine art of proscrastination. So it's small changes for me.

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