Karren Brady's career advice to a woman who wants her business idea to flourish

APPRENTICE star and West Ham United vice-chair Karren Brady answers your careers questions and meets an inspirational CEO.

She gives advice to a woman who doesn't want to let her business idea fall through, simply due to the fact that her friend works full-time.

Q) My friend and I came up with an idea for a new kitchen gadget and we worked on the project together on and off during lockdown. Now we’re at the stage where we have a prototype and I want to start taking it out to companies and distributors in the UK.

I’m really excited about it, but my friend has lost interest as she’s gone back to juggling her busy full-time job and her young kids, so we’re now at a standstill.

I don’t want to fall out with her, but it feels such a waste not to move things forward. Where do I stand on trying to make the idea work on my own?

Susie, via email

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A) The first thing you need to do is to have a frank conversation with your friend. Be understanding and respectful of her personal responsibilities, but be clear you are passionate about the project and that you need to know if she still wants to be involved in it.

Explain that there will be some financial investment needed, so you need to be sure of where she is at, and this will hopefully encourage her to be honest and withdraw if she feels she can’t give the project time and financial commitment. It’s important to be clear about who is the owner of the product, as it will determine who owns rights to the IP (intellectual property) in the future.

If you haven’t already done so, patent the product and declare the ownership. Only agree to do this together if she truly is as committed as you are, as this will give her rights to the company.

I do think you should get legal advice from a patent lawyer who will be able to talk you through how to set up a collaboration agreement to make sure your investments and future turnover is protected.

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

A Day In The Life…

Former investment banker Peony Li, 28, lives in London and is the CEO and founder of Jude, a bladder-care health company.

I wake up at… 8.30am and immediately dive into a five-minute meditation. It gives me the clarity and focus I need to start the day. Only after I head out to grab a cappuccino do I feel like a whole person.

My typical day involves… I work at our Jude HQ or from home. I check in with my team, then send and answer emails before jumping on Zoom calls with doctors, urologists, influencers who partner with us, plus brands and charities about potential partnerships.

I also engage with Jude’s community on Facebook. I’ll arrange to send out samples of our products, including our fully compostable panty-liners and supplements to strengthen bladder muscle control. My life now is a world away from my job in investment banking, which I did for two years after graduating from University of Cambridge with a degree in Economics.

My family has been in the healthcare sector for three decades, so I guess caring for people is in my blood. Before Jude, I worked for a company that created a pain-relieving tampon to address endometriosis, then during the pandemic I distributed protective equipment to frontline workers, carers and business owners. Many of these people were over 50, and when we’d talk about health, bladder issues kept coming up.

The best thing about my job is… Serving the 14 million people in the UK who experience bladder issues. One woman we helped had avoided going out for seven years because of the stress of incontinence.

The worst is… Dealing with closed-mindedness. When I launched the business during the pandemic, I had thousands of rejections from financial investors and encountered mockery. I self-funded the business using my savings and revenue from the PPE distribution, but I’ve since raised £2million from investors.

I wind down by… Doing yoga and Pilates and having a hot shower after dinner. I also like to find new ways to be creative, so I make collages about memories I treasure. I usually go to bed at midnight. 

  •  For more information, visit Wearejude.com.
  • Compiled by Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert

Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice

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