Lucy Harper: 'Make a Plan helps keep me accountable.'

Lucy Harper: 'Make a Plan helps keep me accountable.'

Posted: Tue 9th Jan 2024

We've partnered with Mastercard and Strive to give 650,000 British micro and small enterprises the support they need to thrive in the digital economy over the next three years and beyond.

One way we're doing this is through our online Make a Plan tool. Simply create an account, answer some quick questions about your business, then receive personalised feedback. You then use those recommendations to build an action plan designed to speed up your growth.

We're catching up with business owners who have benefited from using the tool and creating their own action plans. Here, we hear from Lucy Harper of West Midlands baking business A Taste of Heaven.

When and how did you make the move into owning a business?

I decided to run my baking business over a year ago, as a limited company. But I ended up closing it down as I had another job that took over my time, in health and safety.

I then reopened my business as a sole trader in September 2023. I home-educate my children and wanted a job that meant I could still be around my children. Baking was a great opportunity to do this.

Did you know where to go for support?

I owned another business a few years ago, so I had an idea of how to go about starting a business and where to go for support in terms of the legal aspects of running a business.

What help did you seek when setting up your new business?

As a health and safety professional by trade, I already knew I needed to be insured. I also knew that for my particular business, I would need food safety certification training, and update it when needed.

When I first started the business, Google helped a lot with research and GOV.UK answered any questions I had about keeping to the law. In my second year, I decided to pay Yell to have my business in the search engine, and they've given me a lot of information about marketing and pushed me to get out of my comfort zone with customer service and getting reviews.

I went on to apply for funding with Virgin StartUp so I could pursue my business further and progress to delivering my products to markets and stalls. Through them, I've attended a number of webinars to further my knowledge in all areas of business. I then worked with a mentor, which has been a great help in saving a lot of my time.

In the early weeks and months, what went well? What didn't? How did you overcome any problems?

I paid for a professional to produce my website, and through this I learned about Canva. I wish I'd known about this before, as it really does help when taking pictures of my products and other services I intend to offer.

I've learned what works best and what's been a waste of money and time. It's all about learning but hopefully learning from mistakes quickly so I can move on to the next thing that will work better.

Not getting my pricing right at the beginning has had a massive impact on my profit margin (there wasn't one!). Now I have this in place, I can be sure to start earning an income from my cakes. The lesson is to always ask for help if you're not sure how to do something – it saves so much time!

You used the Make a Plan tool. What specifically has it helped with?

The Make a Plan tool keeps you accountable and makes it clear what it is you need to do in relation to your business. It helps narrow everything down and make things easier. I love a good plan and being organised.

What do you see as the next steps for your business?

Focus on what sells and stop with the other stuff. I'm looking into adding a product to my business and hope to gain more funding to help move forward with other more lively events in the near future.

This of course will help make other people aware of my business, and give me an opportunity to find out whether I can sell further afield.

What are your more longer-term plans?

I want to own my own café in the future, a place that feels cosy and welcoming. With the money coming in from my company, I hope to help other business owners, help the planet, give back to society and also help people who are homeless. I do hope that this isn't too much of a long-term goal, but rather something I can start doing now.

Finally, what are the most important lessons you've learned from going into business for yourself?

Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time and a lot of hard work. All the platforms I use now, I wish I'd known about them before, as I could have saved a lot of time in the beginning.

Also, take time for yourself, don't get burned out and don't stress over the small stuff. Look after yourself.


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About Strive Make a Plan

Create an account, answer some quick questions about your business, get personalised feedback, then build an action plan that will help accelerate your business's growth. Take the Make a Plan tool today

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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