“Beware,” says Evadney Campbell, MBE and judge at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, when you set up a business “You are going to have to work harder than you have ever worked before.” But then I am passionate about what I do, it doesn’t feel like a chore, it is amazing, it is rewarding, it gives you the freedom that you don’t get working for somebody else.”
Evadney Campbell, is the co-founder of Shiloh PR, a former broadcast journalist for the BBC, who, in 1995, was awarded the MBE by the Queen for services to the Afro-Caribbean community. If you speak to her, you will no doubt agree, she is a very inspirational lady. She worked for the BBC for 30 years, including radio presenting, and as a news reporter broadcaster in Bristol, then at BBC London, during which time she worked on radio, television and online.
And she reckons something has changed involving women and entrepreneurs. “Most of the people that I associate with are entrepreneurs and people who are trying to build a business themselves,” she says. “There is research in the US relating to the number of women who are in their third career – like myself. I believe that women, aged 40 plus, are launching their own businesses, and I wonder whether it is because you reach a stage in your life when you want to do something that you feel passionate about, rather than work in a job to pay the bills, climbing the corporate ladder. Now, through technology, people are able to create businesses.”
It is hard, setting up a business, she has already made that clear, but what advice does Evadney have for a budding entrepreneur? “staying power, never give up. As an entrepreneur, it is a roller coaster, you can be at the top and everything feels amazing and the next thing it all changes, you have to dig deep and hold on, have the ability not to give up.”
There is a lot of support for entrepreneurs, these days – SEIS, start-up loans, and an ecosystem has formed made-up of people and companies that can support entrepreneurs. But there is a snag, and it is one that Evadney thinks is an issue. She explains “I have heard about all these government initiatives but nobody seems to know how to access them. There seems to be far too much bureaucracy, there is a need for much more transparency and simplicity.”
And then there is the issue of support.
When Evadney was setting up, somebody advised her that she could receive income support, “but then I was told that I was not entitled to anything, so for four years I’ve never had access to any benefits. We have already established that it is unlikely that there will be any income from the business in the first three or four years, so there should be support from the government, a benefit that will give someone an income whilst they grow their business.” She continues: “Sometimes the funds available are in the form of loans, but you don’t know where the business is going to go in the early days.” And for that reason, she says “there should be a grant from the government.”
It is an interesting idea. For people with a certain background, obtaining the funding to keep themselves going during the early, low income phase of a project is difficult but doable. Evadney managed it, after-all. You hear tales of people maxing out on their credit cards, borrowing from family, but for some, such options do not exist.
The UK is emerging an entrepreneurial success story – but more needs to be done, and one way to achieve this is to shine the media spotlight on entrepreneurs, their challenges, their failures and of course their successes.
The NatWestGreat British Entrepreneur Awards are currently open for applications, and entrants can apply here.