Welcome to Saturday Business chat. Today we’re saying hello to Carol Anne Markham, from Barristerlink.com, a service which connects solicitors and barristers and makes their communication easier. This is another young business, and it’s always interesting to contrast these with the ones that have been established for longer – and yet again we find that family circumstances are what’s propelled someone into business ownership. Carol Ann is a serial entrepreneur, however, having already developed then sold one business idea.
As with many of my interviewees, the steep learning curve has been helped by joining business and networking associations, in this case Women in Business and the Federation of Small Businesses – it’s always worth looking around to see what’s active in your local or business area, although it’s good to try things out before committing to any fees – most organisations will let you do this or provide plenty of information on their benefits.
What’s your business called?
When did you set it up?
What made you decide to set up your own business?
After the death of my Dad, I became the carer for my mum and needed to be able to have a business based at home allowing me the opportunity to work around the needs of my mum but allowing me to work – carer’s allowance doesn’t give you much of an income. This new situation also gave me the push to start a business that’s always been put off!
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I have worked in the legal industry early on in my career, my husband has always worked in this area and over the years I have learnt a great deal. It is an area I understand and know this service will be beneficial in a changing market.
Had you run your own business before?
I did have a venture a few years before, again a legal service – my husband’s idea that I put into practice and it was bought by a software company.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
As I had to give up my job a number months before to look after my Dad, I was not working. I have not had an income for a couple of years due to the situation with my parents so I hope to soon receive one!
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
That nothing goes to plan!!
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
There is a lot more to learn than just the business you want to develop and provide.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Used some of my time before the launch to learn about social media and SEO.
What are you glad you did?
Joined groups like Business Womens Network and Federation of Small Business to meet like-minded people and attend seminars, talks, and training on items that I need to learn about.
What’s your top business tip?
Make sure your contact telephone number is on EVERY page of your website in the top banner – people do not want to search for it and will quickly check someone else’s site.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
Obviously this is a new venture and I have achieved my first goal of getting a core database of barristers, now I need to grow my users – Solicitors, this is my next challenge.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
With a brand that is recognised in the legal community and a “must have” service.
It sounds like things are going well initially, and we look forward to hearing about your first year and a bit in business!
Carol Ann didn’t provide any further updates after this first interview. As far as I know the website is still live as of September 2013.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.