I’m Niki, an entrepreneur based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I never imagined that I would become an entrepreneur. To me, entrepreneurship was running a huge, multi-national corporation, something I had neither experienced, nor had any desire to. I studied business and marketing and then worked in advertising agencies for most of my career. Being employed suited me just fine, until …
My entrepreneurial journey began in May 2009 when I suffered an ectopic pregnancy and underwent emergency surgery, losing half of the blood from my body and one fallopian tube during the process. Signed off from work for three months, I slowly regained my strength but simultaneously lost a good deal of confidence.
Was I missed at work? Did people think I was taking too long to recover? If they could manage without me for this length of time, how important was I to the business anyway?
All of these fears were compounded during a miserable return to work meeting and I realised it was time to plan my exit.
Shortly afterwards, I happily fell pregnant again and left my job. Career confidence in tatters, but focused on this new phase, I took 18 months to enjoy my family. All the while, with my antennae raised, on the lookout for the perfect opportunity to rebuild myself, my confidence and my career.
My criteria for any new opportunity
centred around four key elements:
Could I make a difference?
Could I build something from nothing? (18 months work-free meant I had nothing to invest)
Could I build a business that meant I could choose who to work with?
Did the idea interest me and have the potential to make work fun?
In January 2012, Step It Up Dance® was born. Ticking all of these boxes and more, this business has grown from one teacher running one class into the leading local brand and six-figure success it is today. All of the mishaps, learnings and successes of the past six years have turned me into an entrepreneur with skills, knowledge and experience that I am well placed to share.
I’m not just going to tell you how to grow a successful business, I’m going to show you how I've done it myself. So far I have:
- Created unique products and services with strong USPs
- Become the go-to business in my niche
- Grown amazing teams in my own businesses (both employees and freelance workers)
- Developed sky-high levels of customer satisfaction
- Learned to focus on sales – with big results
- Managed teams of up to 100 within large companies
- Learned how to successfully manage significant cashflow
- Maintained financial projections, budgets, profit & loss accounts and balance sheets
- Scaled a business, significantly increasing turnover each year
- Strategically and significantly increased profits
- Generated hype and turned this into sales
- Used marketing to grow customer lists and regularly sell to them
- Created a unique, protected brand
- Written and implemented marketing plans
- Successfully managed conflict
- Developed a franchise model
- Been hired for public speaking engagements
- Created and run successful campaigns and promotions for clients of all sizes (including some of the UK’s biggest brands)
- Systemised businesses to increase efficiency (and create more time!)
- Built and maintained my own website
- Learned to effectively use social media to create big results in my businesses (and continue to stay up to date)
- Been invited to publicly pitch my creative business multiple times to audiences of up to 1,000
- Been formally educated in marketing and business to Post Graduate level
- Built up years of advertising agency experience in some of the UK’s top agencies
- Researched thousands of consumers both for my own business and on behalf of agencies and clients, including household brands and the government
- Been chosen to pitch at the launch of the Entrepreneurial Spark Edinburgh Hub to a panel including Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Sir Tom Hunter and Ann Gloag OBE
- Completed the full Entrepreneurial Spark business accelerator scheme and become one of the longest serving ‘community members’ within this renowned programme of entrepreneurship
- Increased profits within my business by 20% within one ye