SELF MADE Entrepreneur Anna Jones on the business of finding your career calling
From leading a huge company to co-founding AllBright, a members’ club for women in business, ANNA JONES, 43, has the pedigree to pass on advice
➤ Don’t let a good idea get away If you can’t leave an idea alone, then don’t. Before setting up AllBright, a members’ club and 360° support system for women in business, I was the CEO of publishers Hearst UK. I’d spent years working my way up – I was in charge of the best part of 1,000 people, but had always wanted to start my own company. Six months after reading the shocking data surrounding female entrepreneurs [just 2% of all venture capital went to female founders last year*], and meeting my co-founder Debbie Wosskow, a serial entrepreneur, I knew I had to make the leap. We sketched out our first businessplan draft on the back of a menu and never looked back. We named the business after [US politician] Madeleine Albright, who said,“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” ➤ Value your reputation Imagine your mum is sitting next to your desk or that what you say’s being broadcast. Reputation is everything and it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t act professionally at work. It’s important to be authentic, but keep the conversations you have over cocktails separate. ➤ Keep getting feedback People talk about ‘failing fast’ in business, but few actually do. When we first started AllBright, we tried to create a crowdfunding platform. It wasn’t working in the way we’d hoped, so we created the members’ club. I’m a marketer at heart and have seen first-hand that the best way to operate is to test, learn and move on – and keep getting feedback. I’m not suggesting that if you have a business selling handbags and that fails, you move on to buying rocket ships. It’s about evolving. If handbags didn’t work, why not try suitcases instead? ➤ Combine purpose and profit It’s vital you do something you care about. A lot of the women I meet at work have businesses with a mission: they marry purpose and profit. Quite often, people come up with great ideas when they encounter something in their own lives that could be made better. It wasn’t until I got the spark of AllBright that I knew it was time to answer my entrepreneurial calling.
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