You may know Claire Young from the hit TV show, The Apprentice where she reached the final in 2008. Since then Claire has been actively working on several projects which are designed to empower and enable young people in enterprise. As a businesswoman, Claire now works with School Speakers, which she founded – a business providing quality motivational speakers, for schools, colleges and universities. Claire also writes for a number of publications, co-hosts a weekly BBC radio show and makes guest contributions to various TV shows & radio channels.
Easyspace were delighted to interview Claire recently:
Q1. Claire, tell us a little bit about your background and what led to you to becoming an entrepreneur.
I went to an all-girls academic school, studied Medicine and Equine Science at university before entering the world of business. I applied for graduate roles and spent 7 years working in the Health and Beauty industry before applying for The Apprentice. I worked for L’Oreal, Colgate Palmolive and Superdrug. I took part in The Apprentice and left the experience wanting to be my own boss and the rest is history. I now own an agency called School Speakers placing people into schools to do talks and workshops for students.
Q2. You’re most well-known from your time on the BBC’s Apprentice, in which you were a finalist. What was it like taking part in the show, and how’s does it compare with life as an entrepreneur now?
The Apprentice really is the business bootcamp from hell! It is exhausting, exhilarating and life changing! You work relentless hour, work with people you don’t know, to tight timescales and have to continually come up with new ideas. That is pretty much what life is like as an entrepreneur!
Q3. What did you do after the Apprentice?
I set up School Speakers which I have previously mentioned, am a co-founder of a social enterprise called Girls Out Loud and work with a number of government groups helping young people be more enterprising – and start new businesses. I desperately enjoy what I do and get great satisfaction from making a difference. The UK needs more business start-ups and young people need opportunities, the two go hand in hand.
Q4. What was involved in setting up SchoolSpeakers i.e. website, recruiting speakers, contacting schools, etc? Did you follow a business plan and how difficult was it getting the business established in the early days?
Within 3 weeks of the idea of School; Speakers coming to me we have a live website, recruited speakers and started promoted ourselves to schools. The business was born out of demand from teachers so we grew from day one through word of mouth. Be warned, starting a new business is hard work and there are never enough hours in the day!
Q5. How did you market your business School Speakers when you first started and how do you promote it now?
Social media, word of mouth, contacting schools directly, cold calling, writing letters, emails, offering competitions and being a walking talking PR machine. You have to be unashamed and promote your business as no one else will. We now work with nearly every large campaign across the school year and have a number of collaborative partners.
Q6. How do you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc, to promote your businesses? How successful has it been for you? Any advice on how businesses can use social media to promote themselves?
Yes we use social media every day for brand awareness reach new people and gain information. It has been very successful! My advice to people is you just have to take the plunge and go for it – you have to commit. What you put into social media is what you get out.
Q7. If you had the chance to start SchoolSpeakers all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, it’s all been a solid learning curve.
Q8. You also offer mentoring to business start-ups. From your experience what are the most common problems people face when starting their business, and what are the possible solutions?
Keeping their positivity as life as an entrepreneur can be lonely and very challenging. Join a network, get out to events, speak up and find a mentor!
Q9. Which entrepreneur/person has inspired you the most & why?
Alan Sugar. He has made his success (and fortune), is an OAP and could retire but he is still grafting away. I admire his drive, energy and sense of humour.
Q11. What advice would you give to somebody thinking of starting their own business?
Do your research on the market, product/service, target consumer and competition before you spend any money!
Q12. What are your future business plans?
I’d like to move into politics one day.
Thanks Claire, from everyone at Easyspace. Good luck with your business projects.
To find out more about Claire Young and School Speakers visit her websites below: