Tell us a bit about your family?
I live with my husband, who is also my business partner. Two of my adult children also live with us and are employed in Milton Keynes, our youngest started university in September 2015 so now lives away which has been a wrench for us all. Not forgetting the cat and the dog of course!
What’s your business called?
Pandora Inc CIC
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Promoting Awareness Nurturing Diversity Openly Respecting Ability
When did you start it and what inspired you?
April 2014 was when I joined, my contract at previous employment having ended. What inspired me was that having worked for 27 years in the fields of social care and education both in the statutory and voluntary sector I felt strongly that we had the skills, knowledge and experience to provide services for marginalised groups in a creative and inclusive manner as well as training across all sectors.
How did you fund your start up?
We funded our start up ourselves from savings.
How do you manage working around your children?
My children are grown so are not as dependent as they were when they were younger. My husband worked part time when they were younger and was a house husband, I have always worked full time as the major wage earner.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I am very happy to say that now I work for myself no day is typical which suits me fine as I have a very low boredom threshold! Specific daily tasks are prioritised and reviewed every Sunday for the following week and tasks that I find onerous such as Finances are done on specific days as is maintaining the website. These are set aside for Monday and Tuesday which gives me the rest of the week to do the tasks I enjoy which usually involve people, training, workshops, research seminars, networking.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenges have been:
1. Finding the finance to undertake the projects we wish to pursue . Being a community interest company we have to raise finance through applying for bids and the competition for those pots of money is huge and bid writing is a skill. I am acquiring that knowledge fast and we have had successful bids for small grants. But the finance has not grown as quickly as the demand for our projects has so we are constantly playing catch up.
2. Dealing with the pettiness of others who have sometimes seen us as a threat. This has been a shock and unpleasant when it has occurred which fortunately has become less often the longer we are in existence. I have also encountered some very supportive people and my network is now substantial boosting my confidence and determination to succeed.
3. Other people’s stereotypes – I am a woman and I also have a disability and am wheelchair bound. This challenge has been present my whole life so it is not new and I enjoy re educating people and challenging the stereotypes of women in business and those with disabilities!
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
My time is my own to organise as I wish, equally the projects Pandora undertakes stem from a creative flow of ideas which is both liberating and inspiring when they come to fruition.
What are your plans for the future?
To expand into our own larger premises where we can extend our activities.
To consolidate the projects we have already started, create greater revenue and a larger customer base.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Take it slowly Rome wasn’t built in a day
Don’t think you have to be perfect every time
Be willing to take risks
Pandora Inc CIC