So Sian, let’s start from the beginning! You obtained a business degree from Swansea University, so where did you go from there?
I actually graduated at a really difficult time to get a job, so I ended up going back to the independent retail store that I worked at during the term holidays whilst in university, but started working my way up the company. Eventually, I became part of the management team but moved over to a role in a training and consultancy firm and managed a contract which helped people who had been made redundant to retrain to help them get new jobs.
It sounds like you have been business-minded from the start then! When did you go into business for yourself?
So this role with the training and consultancy firm was situated at a large conference centre, but the company was taken over and they decided to move to smaller premises and close the conference facilities, I spotted a gap in the market and decided to set up my own business.
Tell us more about the business!
So, we had a large conference facility with a capacity for 115 people in the main room, so we used this for events and training, whilst at the same time providing catering. However, our catering side of the business was really popular and we ended up catering for external meetings and events too which was unexpected.
What was the biggest road block you stumbled upon!
One of the hardest parts of the business to get through was when the local Government needed the conference centre back due to relocating their staff from another office building. I had been running the business for 2 years by then but I had to find new conference facilities to rent.
It was hard to find the perfect place, but eventually I found somewhere that had a smaller conference rooms, then room for a commercial kitchen for the catering and a takeaway shop too. I ran the business for another 6 years after that!
So how did you become a business adviser?
After obtaining a qualification in project management, I was employed by Big Ideas Wales to provide 1:1 support and training for young entrepreneurs to get started in business. I had 200 clients over the 2.5 years I worked there and it was very rewarding to help that number of young people on their business journeys!
And what are you working on now?
Today, I am working for Business West to deliver start-up support for the Somerset Start-up Package. At the time of writing, the support package has only just started but I have a nice selection of clients already so I’m ready to help them!
Did you ever have a business adviser yourself?
Yes! I couldn’t have been successful in my business without my business adviser in the beginning, he was such an important part of it all!
What’s the best advice you can give to anyone in business?
Take advantage of everything that’s free to you! You haven’t got anything to lose, so just go for it, get your hands on it all!
Start-Up Support Package
Based in Somerset? Business less than 12 months old? Our Start-Up Support Package, fully funded by Somerset Local Authorities, is suitable for businesses in any sector and can provide you with all the information you need to get your business off the ground.