Setting up a business is challenging. But the sense of freedom and achievement, the personal control, and the opportunity to act quickly, more than make up for it. Go for it!
Jo Stroud established designer jewellery retailer, Fabulous, 13 years ago, after a career in marketing and book retailing.
With a successful commerce site, and three Fabulous shops in Leamington Spa, Bath and Solihull, Fabulous went from strength-to-strength over the years, often being the first in the UK to stock certain brands. Jo also opened a Pandora Concept Store, in Bath.
Over time, Jo’s suppliers became her competitors, so she decided to launch her own jewellery collection, Mantra - meaningful jewellery, designed to inspire and uplift.
Mantra won ‘Brand to Watch’ at the UK Jewellery Awards in June 2017, and Jo went on to win the Nat West Everywoman Award in December, for an inspirational woman running a business for more than 10 years.
Jo has twice been voted into the ‘Hot 100’ in the jewellery industry; is on the end-of-year panel at the Birmingham School of Jewellery; has raised thousands for charity over the years, running in two London Marathons and creating the ‘Mantra Changes Lives’ initiative with her own brand.
- Never expect your career to be linear, or neatly planned. Embrace the detours. Every role you do adds skills, experience and learning – all of which you will use in the future. I set up a business in jewellery after 14 years in other industries – books and marketing - and all my previous experiences have been vital to my success.
- Ask people in your industry for help, when you have a problem: you’ll be amazed how helpful most people are; and how many people have the answer you need. It will get you to the solution much more rapidly.
- Don’t plan or expect to do everything yourself, if you run a business: as soon as you can afford to pay a specialist in an area that you are not good at – do it. Be that digital marketing, sales, finance. Play to your strengths: don’t waste time trying to learn and do everything yourself.
- Give your team more and more responsibilities, and then support them from below so they can hand over some of their more routine work. They will amaze you by how much they are happy to take on, and how willing they are to learn new things – as long as you support them with more resource below them.
- Mentors and role models really help you understand the struggles others have gone through. It is easy to look at someone successful, and think they had it easy: learning people’s stories and hearing about their challenges gives you a better perspective and develops your own resilience. So, dig below the surface to learn their story.
the most valuable piece of advice SOMEONE HAS GIVEN YOU
An early business mentor said to me, “Think of setting up a business like going on holiday: there might be traffic jams, airport queues, flight delays, and other problems on the way, but you have no doubt you will get to your holiday destination in the end. See your business start-up phase in the same way.”
Your key piece advice to someone looking to progress
“Setting up a business is challenging. But the sense of freedom and achievement, the personal control, and the opportunity to act quickly, more than make up for it. Go for it!”