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Self-Starter Stories: From Digital Planning Director to Owner of a Cookery School

This week's #selfstarterstory features Regan Anderton, founder of The Cooking Shed, a cookery school in West Wickham, Bromley and Kent.

#PickYourselfUK caught up with Regan to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.

What was your last job?: I was the Digital Planning Director for an advertising agency in London.

Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: Having my son, my passion for food, and the fact that our garage was falling down!

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Having a 2-year-old and working whilst also trying to start up a business - juggling time and the guilt of not being there for him all of the time was extremely difficult. I worried that my husband might resent me for it too.

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: When I was running to try and catch a train for the third time that week to make it home for a bedtime cuddle and story with my son but just missed it again.

What did you learn from your worst boss?: To always be honest with people - keeping things from staff doesn't always protect them.

What is your favourite business book and why?: Twitter! It helps to you to see what your competitors are doing, keeps you informed and ahead of the game (you don't have time to read books when you're running a business!).

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I outsource my accounts and financial paperwork - I'm terrible at it and hate doing it...completing my quarterly accounts were the only time I wished I didn't run my own business, so I knew that was the first thing I had to get help with.

What is your productivity secret?: Respond to things as they happen - if you let things build up and leave them for later you'll feel stressed and swamped.

What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Facebook - it's where I get most of my customers, it's just like the old-fashioned word of mouth.

The Cooking Shed Website October 2017

The Cooking Shed Website October 2017

How do you market your business?: Social media, paid ads on Facebook, partnering with other local businesses, email and most importantly through word of mouth and taking care of my existing customers.

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: I held a launch day at The Cooking Shed - I invited two local businesses to sponsor welcome drinks and some nibbles so that we could hold an open garden afternoon for people to come and see The Cooking Shed (it's located in a building at the end of our garden so we don't have a high street presence).

I posted tickets on Eventbrite and shared on Facebook local parenting groups and the tickets went within 12 hours of going up (all 70 of them!) As soon as the first group of people came through the door, we sold three cookery lessons and I was on cloud nine!

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: I set up Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to show the whole process of us building and creating The Cooking Shed - we invited followers to help choose the colours for walls, the style of our furniture - everything.

Then once we were ready to launch I already had a following so the mention of our new website on those channels was a successful way to help generate intrigue and visitors.

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: It's like having a baby - once it's here, you'll wish you'd done it sooner.

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Jamie Oliver - he's built an empire and has an amazing team behind him. I'd love to know how his delegation skills work and who his investor is!

Regan Anderton has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.