Small today, global tomorrow – now seems to be the golden time for small businesses to succeed. According to the FSB, the number of private sector businesses hit a record high of 5.7 million at the start of 2017, an increase of 197,000 in two years. The combined annual turnover of SME’s accounted for 51% of all private sector turnover in the UK. At the start of 2017 small businesses made up a staggering 99.3% of all private sector business and SMEs made up 99.9%.
In a British economy still coming to terms with Brexit, this positive outlook is cause for celebration. Small businesses deserve more attention and credit than currently given, so to commend the strength of this business category, it’s time to look at some of the most impressive small businesses in Britain.
An award winning micro-bakery in Fulham, Ma Baker also offers bread classes out of the shop kitchen. Listed in the Top 5 classes to do in London, the classes complement the freshly baked, homemade produce, with owner Liz Wilson passing on her knowledge to other would-be bakers.
Ma Baker most recently won Best Small Business and Highly Commended Best New Business at the Hammersmith and Fulham Brilliant Business Awards and most recently two 2017 Great Taste Awards, including the coveted 3 Gold Stars for her famous Porridge Bread.
What Is The Secret To Liz’s Success?
“I love what I do,” she admits. “I’ve always been a foodie, and started by doing voluntary work at the Slow Bread Company, after completing a Virtuous Bread Micro bakery course. I also volunteered at Bake with Maria; the learning never stops! I sold on a small scale locally, then started teaching bread classes. As orders picked up I went part-time in my day job, before eventually going full-time in my business.”
What can other businesses learn from the Ma Baker model? Liz was careful not to overstretch herself too early; instead she built her business around her day job. She believes her success is down to “a lot of hard work, an attention to detail, excellent customer service, being social media savvy and the offering of a quality product.”
Founded in 2015 by fashion loving Lizzie, the brand is all about making beautiful jewellery accessible to all. As a finalist in the Sole Trader of the Year category of the British Small Business Awards 2016, the business has come a long way in a short time.
The business started life purely as an eBay shop, but after attention from Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and British Vogue it was chosen to be profiled by GoDaddy. This positive publicity led to Lizzie ditching the day job and taking Secret Halo to its new home on the internet.
Secret Halo’s success comes from Lizzie’s passion and dedication. As Lizzie says; “I’ve not been afraid to adapt the business as it has evolved. As a small business I am able to react quickly and effectively to customer feedback. Plus, I keep up-to-date with technological advancements, and changes within the industry – vital to keeping fresh!”
Having lived and breathed fashion for years, Lizzie struggled to always find what she wanted easily, without stress or hassle. Secret Halo answered that need, filling a gap in the market. The lesson here is simple – see a gap in an area you are passionate about and fill it, making it easy for customers to buy what they want.
A real family affair, Bluebird Tea is the brainchild of young couple Krisi and Mike. Having started as a market stall, the couple now run three stores in the South West of England. As the UK’s first and only tea mixologists, they lead the way on creating unique blends of tea.
The germ of the idea for Bluebird Tea started three years ago, while the couple were living in Canada. Krisi had been working in the tea industry for years, and was excited by the developments in the industry worldwide. She vowed to bring that tea buzz home to the UK.
Named after the skiing term ‘Bluebird Day’, descriptive of those clear and perfect blue skies above perfect powder snow, the name symbolises the energy and passion seen on these days. The couple wanted to reflect this feeling of happiness and positivity in their business.
Being open-minded and creative in their approach has been the secret to their success. Business is about the people who build it, and Bluebird is no exception. The right mix of personalities has been key to continued success, coupled with the mantra to never give up!
Is there anything else they believe is the secret to their success, that other small businesses can learn from?
“We have worked incredibly hard over the last few years,” says Krisi. “We’ve literally done every job, from mopping floors, to freezing to death on a market stall! I put our success down to the fact we aren’t afraid to get stuck in wherever we are needed, and we lead by example. We live and breathe our business!”
What Can Other Small Businesses Learn From These Inspirational Companies?
Having all built their businesses to success in a relatively short time span, these three businesses all share common threads; passion, hard work and a love of what they do. Start small, don’t overstretch yourselves and let the business develop at its own level.
Keep an eye on these businesses; we expect more great things in the upcoming year!