Florence Achery: 'I left the StartUp UK event feeling that I could really have a successful business.'

Florence Achery: 'I left the StartUp UK event feeling that I could really have a successful business.'

Posted: Thu 2nd Nov 2023

StartUp UK is Enterprise Nation's scheme to provide free tailored support to budding entrepreneurs.

Backed by the UK government and Monzo Business, the programme delivers initiatives such as e-learning, online training, national events and flagship annual conferences throughout the UK.

As the scheme continues to run, we're talking to some of the businesses that have been taking part, to hear how it's benefited them so far. Here, we talk to Florence Achery of Yoga Retreats & More, a company that provides wellness retreats for people who want to escape their busy lives for a while.

How did you come up with your business idea?

I've been going on yoga retreats since 1998. I've seen all kinds of retreats – small groups, big groups, exotic locations, budget retreats, luxury retreats. And I realised that no matter what you pay, or the size of the group, you're often just a number.

I wanted to offer something different. With my business, I only accept small groups and make sure that people bond. The feedback I get reflects that – people feel safe to share details about themselves and so on. I also wanted to give back on a regular basis, so I make a donation to charity for every place on the retreat I sell. That felt logical.

It seemed crazy to start a business about getting people together and travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I knew I could be successful. I started with two retreats in 2021, I'll have done six by the end of 2023 and I have eight planned for 2024. I also took a group to India in February. Growing year on year, and travelling abroad more often, is my aim for the future.


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How has the StartUp UK programme benefited you and your business so far?

The Lunch and Learn webinars have taught me a lot, especially about web design and marketing. They've given me the confidence to build my own website.

I went to a StartUp Saturday live event hosted by Henry Blanchard and that was unbelievably motivating. I left feeling that I could really have a successful business, even though it's just me.

I donate to charity for every place I sell on my retreats, so the more my business succeeds, the more I raise. I've already raised over £1,000 for charity so I thank StartUp UK for giving me the tools I needed.



What's the best advice you've received from taking part in StartUp UK?

Don't look for perfection – just get started. You can get up and running with only one product for sale, and your website doesn't need lots of pages.

What makes your business unique?

I've built charity donations into the fabric of the business. It isn't an afterthought – I'm a big fan of the "Kindness Economy". And one day I hope my business will become be a member of One Percent for the Planet, whose members contribute at least 1% of their yearly revenue to causes that help protect the environment.

With every retreat, I team up with a charity. The charity helps me with marketing as they know that the more places I sell, the more they'll receive. Win-win!

Finally, what would your advice be for aspiring entrepreneurs out there?

If you're passionate about something, you'll find a way to make it work. And don't listen to the naysayers. I started a business getting people together and travelling during a pandemic lockdown – yes, I was laughed at.

But I'm doing six retreats this year (including India twice) and eight next year. If I had more time, I could do a retreat every month and fill it, so I think I'm having the last laugh!


StartUp UK: Turn your good idea into a great business

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Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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