Posted: Thu 28th Apr 2022
Enterprise Nation partnered with Mastercard and Strive to deliver an online ‘One Stop Shop’ for entrepreneurs.
An initiative of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, the Strive programme will 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.
We're catching up with some of the business owners who have been taking part in the initiative to find out how it's benefited them so far. Here, we talk to Sezen Ozay, founder of holistic wellbeing company Smelling Sage.
Sezen, when and how did you make the move into business ownership?
In 2017, I moved to the UK for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and coaching courses. After spending some time here, I decided to establish my business in London because there's a bigger market. I set up my coaching business in 2018 and have been coaching and helping people ever since.
What support, if any, did you seek when setting up your new business?
The main support I had was from my family, especially my father. He provided the initial investment that enabled me to start my business.
Can you paint a picture of those early weeks and months of your new business? What went well? What didn’t? How did you overcome any problems?
Mostly, I had to work on new rules and regulations as I'd moved to another country. So I started by learning everything from scratch, with the help of my accountant. Then I began working on establishing a business base and network.
As I haven't grown up here, I don't have any friends, former colleagues and so on. I've been to meetings and Facebook groups, and I started contacting companies and people through the internet. At the same time, I did some marketing – such as my social media pages – and an advert for a newspaper.
Once I started to see clients, it escalated as I then had word of mouth marketing as well.
Now you’re established and looking to grow, what do you see as the next steps for your business?
I'm planning to do a rebranding for my company, as time passes and companies should always evolve with it. I've actually already started this process by renewing my corporate identity. My next phase will be renewing my website and my packages.
Then my aim is to reach a wider audience and the corporate world to help more people. We've all been through a very hard process mentally during the pandemic and I don't think it's finished yet. It's affected many people and we're starting to see more mental-health problems such as burnout, chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety.
What are your more longer-term plans?
To reach wider audiences and help more people. And as a facilitator, I'd like to teach more people to become practitioners.
You used the Make a Plan tool. What specifically has it helped with?
The Make a Plan tool helped me to understand some steps that I wasn't even aware of – this is my first business! I liked how the tool estimates where you are with quick questions and then guides you through some steps. I think it's great for people who are new to running a business.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from going into business for yourself?
I learned that businesses are living and evolving through time and so clients' needs will change as well. That means we need to adapt and change our businesses over time and let them grow.
For example, during the pandemic, we had to change our one-to-one sessions and live classes to online versions, which meant adapting to circumstances. As Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change." I think this is valid for businesses as well.
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