Back in 2000, Jan Flawn set up P J Care based on her commitment to provide specialised, high quality care to vulnerable residents with complex needs. Her decision to step away from nursing to become an entrepreneur - so she could offer the best care possible - was recognised in 2014 when Jan was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. She’s also the winner of our SME Business of the Year - Growth Award, so we caught up with her for a quick chat to see what’s the secret to her success.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I became very frustrated working within the Department of Health and my husband suggested that I should do it myself – run a nursing home.
What were some of the initial challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Finding a bank that would fund me and not say “you’re just a nurse, you’ve never run a business before and your business plan doesn’t stack up” was really hard. Funnily enough these were all male bankers, but I didn’t let it put me off. I kept believing in my business plan and myself until I finally got my loan.
How did you fund your business?
Unity Trust Bank (bank of Unison) believed in me and my business plan and lent me £750,000 using the family home as security.
What is your top tip for growing your business?
Don’t strip your business of cash and always keep a healthy cash flow. Make sure you carry out thorough research through feasibility studies to ensure a low gearing at all times.
Why would you recommend that people build their network and find the support they need to start and grow their business?
Two heads are always better than one. We all have a well of wisdom that we can be added to by listening to colleagues that we network with and share our business hurdles with. I’ve learnt so much from my networking colleagues who don’t work in the same field as me.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Once your business is established it’s important to take time out to refresh and maintain healthy relationships with your family and friends. I go walking, cycling, camping and whatever my circle of friends are organising. I also find that laughing as much as possible always helps - laughing really is the best de-stress medicine.
How has mentorship made a difference in your business?
My company accountant is someone I trust implicitly, and over the years I’ve come to use him as my mentor as well as my business advisor. I’m also a mentor for new business start-ups and female entrepreneurs, and it’s wonderful to see them take the well researched risk to grow their company or idea.
Networking is essential to your business success, especially in the early years. Forward Ladies helps connect women in business through informal networking events across the country. Not sure if it’s for you? Why not sign up for our free membership today and give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose!