Results

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Roisin Meredith – Roisin’s Water Kefir

There has been a lot of coverage in the media in the past few years about people’s changing eating and drinking habits and the move towards a healthier diet as well as the growth in demand for non-alcoholic drinks. One woman who is definitely part of this movement is Roisin Meredith, who produces water kefir, with its range of health benefits. 

“I never set out to run my own business,” Roisin makes clear at the start of our interview, “the business came out of necessity after my baby daughter Florence became ill and we struggled to find out how to help her get better.” 

Initially Roisin’s daughter was a healthy, bouncing baby but he suddenly began to lose weight, could not sleep and was continually crying and despite a barrage of medical tests by doctors, neither a diagnosis nor a treatment could be found. 

Roisin was a chemistry teacher at the time and her background in science became a major factor in the eventual good health of her baby. Roisin had initially worked in the corporate world for FMCG companies such as L’Oreal but she realised that she was not ideally suited to a desk job and she retrained as a teacher. “I suppose that I have always been a little bit entrepreneurial,” states Roisin, “alongside my traditional career I ran events, set up a hat company and had a whole range of ideas but fear of failure prevented me from taking those all-important steps to self-employment.” 

Roisin describes how her upbringing, with both parents being doctors, led her to follow the traditional career path and she soon became frustrated, feeling that “she was not living in the now.” She remembers how running your own business was not an option for most young people, with the exception of perhaps being a plumber or hairdresser, but that she felt deep down that one day she would run her own business. 

When her young daughter became ill, Roisin’s scientific background led her to believe that the issue was related to food and she initially put her on a FODMAP diet to restrict what she was eating and drinking. Roisin engaged the services of a nutritionist and a more holistic approach to her daughter’s diet helped her dramatically, “Realising that the antibiotics that I had taken whilst pregnant with my daughter, had destroyed her microbiome which meant that she couldn’t digest any food, was a key moment for me,” comments Roisin. 

Within two weeks of taking a powdered probiotic, her daughter was back to good health and this dramatic change “fired off the science part of my brain and my lightbulb moment happened as I could see that this was a way that I could help others also struggling with similar digestion issues,” Roisin says. She started to research the subject of microbiomes and discovered that many medical conditions appear to be linked to the bacteria in our bodies. 

Roisin started to ferment food and drink, starting with milk kefir and kombucha and her business idea was born. She moved to making water kefir and selling it at local markets in September 2018 as well as making it for family and friends and describes the production process as “very therapeutic.” She admits that at this point she was worried that what she was doing would not pass the requirements of Environmental Health and Trading Standards. However, having engaged with them, she soon realised that by having a dialogue with these official bodies, they were actually very helpful to her. Roisin describes it, “I had a mental block about this but when I recognised it as such, I was then able to deal with it and move forward.”

rosins water kefir

Roisin found that she really enjoyed talking to people at markets about the products she was making, and connections made with other small businesses really helped her to build confidence including a pitch she made to a local gin distillery. Whilst she didn’t win her pitch, they did put her in contact with organisations who could help her business. Having successfully been awarded a Start Up Loan, she left her teaching job to dedicate more time to her business but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all of her potential sales outlets such as festivals, events and markets all closed. 

Roisin approached GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital who provided her with coaching and 1:1 support and she describes this as the point where she finally felt she had stepped into a business owner mode. GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital encouraged her to apply for an Invest4 grant to help make the most out of the money from the Start Up Loan as well as pay for a sales and marketing consultant to take her business to the next level. 

Support from Jonathan and Nicola at GetSet helped her to develop a full business plan, together with three-year cash forecast to plan for the future. “I had never done these plans before, but they helped me to really think about the details. They had lots of suggestions and I felt that they really wanted to understand my business and go through everything, particularly with my Invest4 grant application which I was successful in getting.” 

Roisin describes the support she received from the GetSet team as an “elevating experience” which made a tremendous difference to how she approached her business. She is now working with a family who are bringing land back into their stewardship where they have a vineyard and micro-brewery and plan to set up a community of like-minded businesses. “We have a dream of offering people the best of food and drink in Sussex and to become a destination for people looking for healthy, local products with a strong provenance,” says Roisin. 

Post COVID-19, Roisin envisages that more people will give more consideration to the products that they buy and that the experience of lockdown has opened their eyes to the benefits of buying from local suppliers. 

Roisin advises anyone thinking of starting their own business to set aside their fears, to take advantage of the support available through the GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital programme. “The GetSet team helped me to really develop my business and to create a strong foundation on which I can build – it was brilliant!” states Roisin. 

For more information about Roisin’s Water Kefir click here or on Instagram here

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Mike Ethridge – The Design Print Distribution Group

Mike Ethridge

“GetSet For Growth helped to provide clarity to my ideas and put the structure in place to make the plans happen.”

It could be said that Mike Ethridge has a certain well known search engine to thank for his now successful company. Having been made redundant around six years ago, he turned to the internet to look for ideas for businesses that you could start without any outlay. Leaflet distribution was the suggested idea and so Mike set about researching the potential demand and what competition existed in the marketplace. 

What started as a part-time business for him, through his hard work and energy has turned into a very successful design, print and distribution company, with a HQ in Bristol employing six people, a team of forty self-employed staff and franchises in Reading and Sheffield. The company now focus principally on distribution and they work for a range of clients including estate agents, gyms, political parties on direct mail campaigns. “Many of our clients want to implement campaigns which are data driven and we can help them with that, locating good, reliable source data for them which can be targeted by their requirements,” said Mike. 

Mike describes the past year as “interesting” with many of his clients having to close their businesses and cease their marketing activity during the lockdowns. At the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, their client base disappeared almost immediately, and staff had to be furloughed until May. However, things did start to pick up as some businesses opened again and by August, all staff were back at work. “We used the time during lockdown to take a good look at our systems and processes and to try to improve everything that we did so that we would be in good shape to react when the country came out of lockdown,” explains Mike. 

One of the key changes that we made to the business was to set up contracts with clients rather than operate on an ad hoc basis as we had done previously. This gave the company more security and by adding new product offerings as well, they have managed to grow business despite the subsequent lockdowns which took place. They recently had their best month ever and demand is continuing to grow for their services, which Mike describes as “fantastic.”

print services

“It was Andy from the GetSet for Growth Business Resilience programme in South Bristol that helped us to get back on track when the situation was looking challenging,” said Mike, “He listened to my ideas and gave me feedback which we then worked on. Through 1:1 sessions, he helped me to focus on ways to improve the business strategy including the franchise model which we have now put in place.” Mike describes how Andy helped him to develop more structure to their growth plans and to introduce practices to the business which have had a really positive impact on the team. 

Mike stated, “I have started to carry out 1:1 sessions with each member of staff, which is a great way for them to provide input into the business growth through their ideas, but also helps to set targets for their own personal development within the company. By planning the schedule for these sessions for the whole year, the team realise the importance of their contribution to our success.”

Mike also spent time with Sally from the Bristol team who provided insight into their marketing plan as well as talking through ideas particularly around the support of the new franchisees. “I liked the coaching model that they used,” said Mike, “It helped to provide clarity to my ideas and put the structure in place to make the plans happen.” 

Going forward, Mike is continuing to put into practice what he learnt from the GetSet Business Resilience programme, looking at training and development for his team. He is also keen to focus on building the franchise programme he has across other regions but wants to take time to put the right model in place and to choose the right locations. He states, “selecting the right people to take on the franchises is key to our success but thanks to the GetSet for Growth team, I now feel in a better position to find them.”

Whilst many of their previous clients, such as restaurants are still not open to the public, other businesses have taken their place and Mike is optimistic that they will return in the coming months which will generate even more demand for their services. “We help businesses create targeted campaigns which integrate with their other marketing activity which in turn helps them to be more effective in their overall business promotion, and this is even more important as they return to trading following a period of closure,” stated Mike.

door to door distribution

His advice to any other entrepreneurs considering starting or growing a business is to realise that you don’t need to know everything and to get advice from others. He admits that in his enthusiasm, he has sometimes tackled tasks that in hindsight, he should have employed other professionals to do. This experience has taught him which areas of the business he excels in, and which he should leave to others, which he rates as invaluable. 

He encourages other entrepreneurs to network with other businesses and to surround yourself with people who can be mutually supportive to each other. He reflects on the business that he has created, stating that “I always did make a terrible employee, so it was inevitable that I would start my own business at some point.”

His advice to his younger self would be to access the coaching available such as the GetSet for Growth programme earlier in the development of the business but to maintain that enthusiasm for what he was doing. He comments, “As a business owner, you have to relish the rewards and tackle the challenges with resilience – you might not get everything right, but you should always be proud of what you have done!”

For more information about The Design Print Distribution Group, click here

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Eden Project inspires drive for more sustainable businesses

The Planet Mark Start with Eden Project

YTKO, in partnership with Planet Mark were the lead partners for delivery of the Planet Mark Start programme in the local authority areas of Bristol, Bath and N.E. Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This EU-funded sustainability programme, backed by the Eden Project, helped coach businesses on sustainability, teaching SMEs and start-ups ways to reduce their carbon emissions, cut energy bills and become environmentally sustainable. The project’s ethos was that business sustainability is a global issue that must be tackled locally.

Rapid advancements in technology help to reduce inefficiencies, cutting both cost and environmental impact. Equally, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how their purchasing decisions contribute to their carbon footprint and are seeking out businesses that support them in their goal to lead a less wasteful life.

Thank you for your engaging, exciting and informative workshop surpassing all expectations. I would recommend the course to anyone, rating it as a ‘must attend’ session. 

The workshop had lots of practical examples enabling me understand the true benefits of sustaining our planet.  I anticipate my sustainability strategy will grow, reaching into as many of the sustainable development goals as possible. 

Katrina McWhinnie, Founder – the McWhinnie Consultancy

Incorporating sustainability into business goals is set to become the rule rather than the exception. With a business’ reputation now relying more than ever on its commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, small businesses stand to see significant growth if they reduce their waste.
Reducing paper consumption is just one example, while remote working can also reduce a business’ carbon footprint. Also, by working with more ethical suppliers and seeking out ways to reduce packaging, SMEs can win over new customers and bolster their reputation.

Reducing paper consumption is just one example, while remote working can also reduce a business’ carbon footprint. Also, by working with more ethical suppliers and seeking out ways to reduce packaging, SMEs can win over new customers and bolster their reputation.

I found it very useful and a nice injection of motivation to keep pushing on with my sustainable business setup. 

Chiara – Founder & Creative Lead at Hyphae

YTKO worked with consortium partners to support over 700 SME businesses through a series of events, workshops and 1:2:1 support; this included the development and launch of a digital toolkit to specifically help SMEs understand their carbon footprint.

After taking local action to enhance their sustainability, businesses were awarded formal accreditation that demonstrated their commitment to taking global climate action to suppliers and customers.

Together the project made a real change to how SMEs engaged in the sustainability agenda and contributed to a reduction of approximately 550 tonnes of CO2. Planet Mark accredited organisations achieve outstanding results and cut their carbon emissions by 12% per employee per year on average.

One of The Planet Mark Start’s key success stories is the Young Entrepreneurs Network Association (YENA), a Bristol-based online platform and acceleration community for start-ups:

We believe that any business should care deeply about the impact it has on the world. We refuse to run a business that has a net-loss on the environment and the people within it. Becoming The Planet Mark Start! accredited was a natural choice for us. The ability to know, and show, that we are doing good as a by-product of the work we’re doing, helping with reforestation and lowering emissions by operating in a lean way, sets a standard not only for our future as a company and our peers, but also the hundreds of start-ups in our community at YENA.

Ash Phillips – YENA Founder

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YTKO turns on the taps for green SME revolution

Halcyan Water Conditioners

YTKO has helped turn around the fortunes for a local, Bristol-based SME, who is changing the way that water impacts energy efficiency in our homes and lives. Halcyan make water conditioners which have the ability to reduce limescale in hard-water areas and improve the energy performance – and lifetime – of white goods in the home; saving energy and reducing waste.

The innovation and investment of resource from Halcyan meant that they truly had a unique product but didn’t understand how to bring this disruptive technology to market.

Halcyan Water Conditioners received bespoke coaching, workshop and networking opportunities as part of the EU-funded Enterprising West of England programme to reinvent their business and increase sales.

Working with Samantha Mant, Head of Sales at Halcyan, YTKO were able to help Halcyan reach two very distinct markets:

  • Business-to-business: which involved building networks of contacts within the construction and facilities management sector to create a pipeline of opportunities and drive volume of sales. This helped Halcyan to develop their sales funnel of plumbers and installers who could purchase the conditioners and understood the value that they could sell onto their customers.
  • Business-to-consumer: which helped to promote the ecological qualities of the conditioners to homeowners who could then invest in the system; saving energy, improving the quality of water and lessening their impact on the environment. Part of this approach included a rebrand and new website.

YTKO Head of Sustainability, Phil Stott, said: “This is a classic example of a business with real innovation and ecological responsibility at its core. The issue is that sometimes these businesses need help bringing this innovation to market.”

Samantha Mant, Halcyan, said: “The support we received from YTKO was really important to create a sustainable business model to go with our investment in the ecological technology that we’ve developed. Without their guidance we would have struggled to realise the two-pronged approach to our marketing and it was particularly useful to have individuals with direct experience of working in the sustainability sector.”

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YTKO helps local SME to raise the bar for sustainability

YTKO, in partnership with The Planet Mark, have helped local Bristol bar The Strawberry Thief to set a new standard in sustainability. As part of the EU-funded Enterprising West of England programme, YTKO are able to offer businesses, like the Strawberry Thief, the opportunity to get to grips with their carbon footprint and understand which steps are viable for them to improve their performance.

Strawberry Thief

CEO and “Chief Thief” Mike Harris recognises that the programme had been incredibly useful in creating a business which reflected his own values, not least as the support went beyond simply looking at energy efficiency but tailoring an approach specifically to the needs of an SME which is looking to set a standard across the hospitality sector.

Mike Harris said: “The business case for sustainability has never been more relevant. We all want to make the right decisions to protect the planet but it must stack up financially for our businesses.”

“When an organisation works with YTKO they will identify ways to help their business financially, as well as environmentally. It really is a no-brainer and I love the fact they can help all types of business from sole traders working out of their kitchens to multi-million pound SMEs with large offices and energy bills!”

Bottles in the Bristol Bar "The Strawberry Thief"

As part of the support programme YTKO helped Mike and the rest of the staff at The Strawberry Thief to improve their performance in a holistic way:

  • Water: Reduced line clean water use by 40 litres per line per week (approx. 12,500 ltr/yr).
  • Waste: Belgian bottles on deposit & returned to the supplier. Now doing this with local Bristol Dry gin (with £1 saved for every bottle).
  • Social: All staff on living wage regardless of age, 100% tips and max 40 hr working week, and engaged with charity partner Penny Brohn UK, focussing on health and wellbeing – staff ran Bristol 10k in 2017 and 2018.
  • Energy: Spent £500 on LED bulbs and on a 100% renewable energy tariff.

“Teaming up is a natural fit for us and a great opportunity to raise awareness of the free workshops which are available. A key part of being a sustainable business is telling your customers about it and we hope that working with YTKO will allow us to spread the word.”

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Too Many T-Shirts – a story of scale up and upcycle

Too Many T-Shirts needed to make the jump from cottage industry, manufacturing products on a kitchen table, to where it now is, an upcycled products provider, recently outsourcing to a UK textiles manufacturer.

They reached out to GetSet for Growth for help with their marketing and in finding a long-term manufacturing partner. As a result of the support provided, they outgrew their studio space, have outsourced their manufacturing, and their management has been released form day-to-day operations to be able to focus on longer-term business growth (working more on the business than in the business).

Too Many T-Shirts started-up in 2017, and make custom t-shirt blankets. These ‘memory blankets’upcycle customers’ own t-shirts to create a nostalgic and unique memory of times they experienced when wearing their t-shirts, such as a runner’s blanket comprising all their race t-shirts.  As well as a very innovative idea, they are also are helping to reduce clothing waste in this clever way.  They further strengthen their sustainability credentials with a real focus on keeping things local and reducing air miles.  As such, they have a wide range of customers, from fanatical runners, keen sports team members, university graduates, football fans, and gig and band fans.

In 2018, having taken GetSet for Growth’s advice on funding sources and on their marketing, Too Many T-Shirts crowdfunded on the Crowdfunder platform.  This campaign was a success in gaining overfunding of £24k – 163% of the original target.  319 backers came onboard to make the campaign possible, donating or pledging in return for the product.

Simon Bellamy, Founder, says, “Our preparation was key to ensuring we built a large audience or ‘crowd’ in advance of going live.  To launch in the strongest way possible, it was essential to first onboard prospective customers, and warm them up to the future campaign.  As a result, we reached 50% of our target numbers within 48 hours and we were fully funded just a few days later”.

Lots of hard work immediately followed the campaign to fulfill all the backers’ orders, and they were so happy with their unique products that they have now become long-term customers.

The crowdfunding campaign was also instrumental in a manufacturing company approaching Too Many T-Shirts, who have now become a long-term partner, taking over the manufacture of the blankets. This relationship has been essential in enabling the company to scale.

The future for the business is very bright as they continue to grow, providing income to skilled machinists here in the UK.

Simon says, “I have gained invaluable advice from GetSet for Growth.  Being a solo business owner, sometimes you need that sounding board to clarify your thoughts.  GetSet for Growth have helped me to grow my business to a point where I can now concentrate on my future business strategy.  With a manufacturing partner now in place, they take care of many of the operational elements of the business. I would recommend GetSet for Growth to any other business owners out there that are looking for help or advice in scaling their businesses”.

 

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Food for Thought Cookery School

We spoke to Louise Jones, Founder of ‘Food for Thought’ a home-based cookery school in Dorset. She is on a personal mission to help inspire people to make and eat healthier choices.  A qualified nutritionist, she knows the power of positive food choices particularly given her own personal struggles with anemia. Having previously experienced the pressures of the corporate world too, she decided to pull back and strike out on a different path as the time felt right to build her own business around her passion for food. Her cookery school has been trading for just over a year and she has also created a range of sweet treats including a recipe for healthy chocolate!

Louise says: I can’t speak highly enough of GetSet. Having someone else looking at your business who is not close to you, is fantastic.  Asking the ‘why’, is really powerful”. Regular mentoring with the team helped to accelerate her decision making.   A considered review of The Food for Thought website generated more focused content and tangible results, with class bookings up already this year.  The GetSet workshop support helped build her knowledge and confidence as well, with the suite of training being a valuable resource from which to develop a plan of action for building awareness of the cookery school and an engaged client community.

Working with the GetSet team, Louise now has a clearer idea of her target customers – primarily female foodies with health as their key motivator, they are seeking more confidence in their cooking skills.  This knowledge is helping her to develop new class offerings and generate more repeat business with a healthy pudding club being one of the new tasty offerings for the Autumn.

The future is looking bright at ‘Food for Thought’.  So much so, that Louise has taken the plunge and given up her part time job to be able to focus on the business full time.  She was a finalist in the ‘Successful Women in Business’ awards and is committed to helping and inspiring more people to make healthier cooking choices.   She intends to explore a wider range of formats for delivering her passion and will inevitably be having lots of fun along the way!

Commenting on her journey so far, Louise has some sound advice for other budding entrepreneurs:

 

Go and see GetSet for Growth”! Find your passion and be fully committed as it will take over your life.  Realise that you will not make much money initially, put the groundwork in by way of personal investment of time and energy and you will reap the rewards in the future

 

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Eco-Cleaning – Clean Homes and Happy Customers!

We spoke to Anca Petcu, founder of Eco-Cleaning Bristol, to learn more out about her experiences of running a small business.

Eco-Cleaning has been trading for nine years providing environmentally friendly cleaning services, reliability and peace of mind for a range of locally based domestic and commercial customers.

Driven by Anca’s pursuit of quality throughout the business, Eco-Cleaning is the only cleaning company in Bristol to have been awarded a Which ‘Trusted Trader’ endorsement based on its consistent service and desire to please its customers.  This commitment has helped Anca to increase her turnover year on year and build long-term relationships with her clients, and her employees.

Running a small business is a big responsibility and Anca has invested dedicated time to build her knowledge base and confidence. Working with GetSet, has helped to give her a chance to reflect on progress, and offered practical ways to help improve her commercial awareness and a make plan for the future.

She has taken advantage of the free workshop training too, particularly around operational finance and the importance of cash-flow, along with 1:1 support to identify new ways to generate leads and build the pipeline around her business.  She has also valued the chance to network with like-minded peers and learn from the experiences of other small businesses.

Looking ahead, Anca has a vision to be the ‘go to’ cleaning company in Bristol.  She intends to take on additional staff including a team leader to ensure she can spend more time working on the business rather than in it.  Finally, she’s considering the opportunity for a re-brand and referral scheme to fuel the next phase of growth.

Commenting on the journey so far, Anca says: “Slowly, slowly it all helps. Just get on and do it!

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Faithworks – Help and Hope for those in Need

We spoke to Ruth Argles, Communications Lead at Faithworks in Bournemouth.

Running for 15 years, Faithworks is a not for profit, independent charity solely focused on helping people get out of crisis and isolation, giving them renewed hope for a more positive future.

The small team supports a wide range of initiatives locally and is currently involved in 14 wide-ranging projects across the region, including Food Banks, befriending carers, debt advice, homelessness and helping single parents. Building on their existing links with Christian churches, there is considerable scope to build wider regional awareness and understanding around the charity’s aims and good works.   Having a strong volunteer network and communicating tangible results is also essential for future-proofing their future growth.

Ruth discovered the GetSet service online and was impressed not only by the range of content but by the ease of accessing the quality resources locally.  Keen to build her skills and communications confidence she has taken full advantage of the range of support this year including workshop training and 1:1 mentoring.   As a small charity with minimal marketing investment, she now feels better equipped and ready to explore the potential of social marketing and blog content too in order to build the wider Faithworks community of interest.

She says: It’s a great resource, a blessing that it is funded with mentoring support where needed.  There is a real energy with GetSet and wonderful to be able to absorb it”.

Ruth and the Faithworks team are now looking ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and keen to make further investment in digital channels to help them get their name and work in front of more and more people including funders.

Ruth says to other charities considering the value of the service:

I would definitely encourage them to contact GetSet – it will encourage them that they are not on their own.  It’s fully funded, with in depth training and very flexible to the needs of the individual.”

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Food for Thought Cookery School

We spoke to Louise Jones, Founder of ‘Food for Thought’ a home-based cookery school in Dorset. She is on a personal mission to help inspire people to make and eat healthier choices.  A qualified nutritionist, she knows the power of positive food choices particularly given her own personal struggles with anemia. Having previously experienced the pressures of the corporate world too, she decided to pull back and strike out on a different path as the time felt right to build her own business around her passion for food. Her cookery school has been trading for just over a year and she has also created a range of sweet treats including a recipe for healthy chocolate!

Louise says: I can’t speak highly enough of GetSet. Having someone else looking at your business who is not close to you, is fantastic.  Asking the ‘why’, is really powerful”. Regular mentoring with the team helped to accelerate her decision making.   A considered review of The Food for Thought website generated more focused content and tangible results, with class bookings up already this year.  The GetSet workshop support helped build her knowledge and confidence as well, with the suite of training being a valuable resource from which to develop a plan of action for building awareness of the cookery school and an engaged client community.

Working with the GetSet team, Louise now has a clearer idea of her target customers – primarily female foodies with health as their key motivator, they are seeking more confidence in their cooking skills.  This knowledge is helping her to develop new class offerings and generate more repeat business with a healthy pudding club being one of the new tasty offerings for the Autumn.

The future is looking bright at ‘Food for Thought’.  So much so, that Louise has taken the plunge and given up her part time job to be able to focus on the business full time.  She was a finalist in the ‘Successful Women in Business’ awards and is committed to helping and inspiring more people to make healthier cooking choices.   She intends to explore a wider range of formats for delivering her passion and will inevitably be having lots of fun along the way!

Commenting on her journey so far, Louise has some sound advice for other budding entrepreneurs:

 

Go and see GetSet for Growth”! Find your passion and be fully committed as it will take over your life.  Realise that you will not make much money initially, put the groundwork in by way of personal investment of time and energy and you will reap the rewards in the future

 

Read more