This week we have another SPARK business blog post. Leeds student Jumana talks about setting up her Retrasafe – an award winning ladder stabiliser business.
My Business Journey
I started my business with my partner two years ago after my first year at Leeds. This was my first business venture and so had no clue what to do. My partner had a problem trying to use his ladders safely in many places so we decided to tackle the problem that many others also struggled with. We had designed a retractable ladder stabiliser and set up Retrasafe to make and sell the stabiliser systems. We launched the product a year ago and the product has won British Safety Industry Federation Commended Award for Product Innovation in 2016 and was a finalist for Association for Project Safety Health and Safety Innovation Award 2016. We have done exhibitions both here and abroad and have got a lot of interest around the product from small and big companies. I also got to visit the House of Commons and meet the Duke of York when I won the Duke of York Young Entrepreneurs Award 2017. We have now got a couple of different products that we are marketing and selling.
A lot of the things we have done would not have been possible without the help and support from the university. The SPARK team have been amazing. Whenever we have been stuck we have always had great advice from amazing mentors. They have helped us with funding, teaching us the basics on how to run a successful business and got us in touch with specialists in accounting, manufacturing and law. I was lucky enough to get an Enterprise scholarship this year, which allowed me to go to the business bootcamp. I got to learn some useful things to help focus and improve my business. The University also has helped us connect with the larger Leeds community, alumni and friends of the University, who have helped and supported us as well. Without the support from SPARK and the University in general I would not have been able to get to where I am now with my business.
Organisation is key. Doing your degree and running a business is hard work. I also have two children so for me I had to plan and organise my time so that I could be as efficient as I could with the time I have. Setting goals, planning and delegating are key skills you should have if you want to run a business. You cannot do everything yourself. Identify the areas you need help in and get in touch with the right person who can help you. There is a lot of people who love helping people starting up a business so do not be afraid. Take risks. I am someone who always follows my gut and many successful businesspeople will tell you the same thing. There is no reward without risk and do not worry if it goes wrong, learn from the mistakes as they will help you as you go further with your business. Lastly, enjoy it. Running a business in something you are passionate about rather than working for someone else is something only a handful of people get to do so try and enjoy it as much as you can as this will help you get through the tough times you will inevitably get.