Posted: Mon 19th Oct 2015
Enterprise Nation has announced the first of 12 Enterprise Champions who are representing our community across the UK and helping us to grow a truly entrepreneurial nation.
We're profiling each of the Champions and next up is Jo Sealy, who represents East London.
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Jo Sealy and I run To Market, a marketing agency. Our team of five works with creative, food and technology businesses to create their marketing strategy and then deliver their marketing activity, including creating and delivering complete advertising and marketing campaigns.
Additionally, I have run hair salons with my husband for the past 25 years, am a professional photographer with work that focuses on social documentary and macro still life projects, most recently commissioned to deliver photography for a borough-wide branding campaign, and founder of the Waltham Forest Business Network which was set up to address the lack of connection between local businesses as potential suppliers.
Tell us about the small business scene in your region. Why is it so good?
We have a huge community of creative and food professionals in our area who have flourished and made connections informally. These include writers, artists, film-makers and many more companies, a good deal with international reputations. Through a combination of face to face and online networks people connect and work collaboratively and are helpful and generous with advice and skill sharing.
What needs to be done to make it even better?
Get rid of the out-moded approaches of committees, chambers and talking shops and get in people that can make things really happen. The facilities and resources for start-ups definitely needs to be more comprehensive and consistent in their quality and ability to make a difference for newbie entrepreneurs. Our freelancer community needs better links, advice and connections into the wider business world for knowledge on best practice and growth.
Space is an issue; it needs to be thought about creatively. Council buildings, railway arches, museums, libraries; all can be made available! Additionally, there are many retailers who don't feel that they have a stake in their business' destiny or in the high street because of lack of relevant engagement by those charged with the task.
Tell us about two great small businesses in your region and why they're so brilliant.
Tidy Books is a brilliant business started in 2004 that produces bookcases made specifically for children, run by former violin maker Geraldine Grandidier. It's a mum who saw a need and went for it. The company was recently overfunded on Crowdcube and is now making great strides in its plans for growth into the USA and Europe.
Artillery is an arts development organisation and CIC which has helped to create one of the key creative events in the East London area and enabled individuals, schools and whole neighbourhoods to participate in art and art related projects. From a big idea by two creatives with no budget in 2006, the team has gone on to devise and deliver notable projects for other local authorities and organisations such as Create and the Barbican.
Why were you happy to become an Enterprise Nation Regional Champion?
Enterprise Nation's whole approach is one of creating access to who can make a difference, pure energy and refreshing positivity; yes it is possible and yes, you can do it! That's very much my own approach so to become a Regional Champion is an extension of what I hope and feel I do every day.
What are your three top tips for running a successful business?
Study and emulate the best of those that are doing it well out there as there's always something to learn
Surround yourself with positive people and they will help you to overcome the challenges that will inevitably come
Be true to yourself; you are your own brand and people will know what you stand for
Follow Jo on Twitter at @Jo_Sealy
Find out more about our Champions here.