Harpreet Kaur, Owner of Oh So Yum and BBC Apprentice Winner 2022, interviewed at the NEN Conference 2022, on her top tips for starting a business and the value of enterprise support.
Harpreet Kaur, famed for her BBC Apprentice success, advised all small businesses to seek out enterprise support when they are starting-up, saying she could have supercharged her Oh So Yum business faster if she had sought advice.
Speaking at the National Enterprise Network Annual Conference, she said entrepreneurs often made the mistake of underestimating the challenges of starting and growing a business.
In conversation with broadcaster Declan Curry she said: “I didn’t have a clue when I first set-up. I’m proud and I like to think if someone else can do it, I can do it. On social media it seems really glamourous and cool and I thought ‘how difficult can it be?’
“I was very naïve, I had my sister as support and no previous experience but minute I got into it I realised there’s a lot more to juggle It’s very easy to start a business but a lot harder to sustain it for the longer term and keep it going.”
She told the 200 plus delegates at the conference that she wished she had realised what help was available at the time and added that she would be forever grateful to the West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce who reached out to her with support.
“Groups and networks like this are amazing and I wish I had reached out more, as there isn’t a single challenge that someone else hasn’t already faced or worked through and can help you with. We didn’t reach out for support but it was West Yorkshire Chamber who found us and we were so lucky they did.
“I would say there is so much support out there you have to take advantage of it. Business can be really daunting, when you work for a corporate there are groups and people to fall back on, but when you start a business you are literally out on there on your own – but you don’t have to be.
“I could have supercharged my business a lot quicker if I had reached out and sought more support earlier.
“The Chamber helped me in several ways. There was some financial support but I also got practical help, such as advice on how to set up a company which we did with an advisor. Having someone to sit with us to get job done was so valuable because it is difficult to know what you need accountants or lawyers for.
And then there was the emotional support – the feeling of someone being there ‘in your corner and having your back’ no matter what the question is . It sounds very silly but you have all these questions when first starting a business and it’s nice to have support because a lot of advisors have their own agenda which is to charge fees or create a longwinded process but it can be simpler than that – you need that feeling that an independent advisor gives you – that this person will give best advice for the business and not for their own agenda.”
Harpreet shared her own challenges of keeping her business alive during the pandemic and her pride in winning the Apprentice which she felt had given her a platform she could use to create new opportunities thanks to the exposure it gave her.
Saying that she would love to business mentor herself in the future, she concluded with her top tip for success – just ‘go for it’.
“One key piece of advice for anyone setting up business, is to do it now; stop thinking about it, stop procrastinating, it never will be perfect. Every single business is a work in process and if you keep waiting until it is perfect, the opportunity will pass .
“Take the risk because if not every idea works out, it doesn’t matter . Don’t be afraid to fail, because everyone I know who is successful, they all have stories of their failures when they lost money.”