Sharing Experience: Jules Shorrock, Citrus Security Shredding
In 2021 Jules became one of fifteen female entrepreneurs selected by Nat West and Getty Images, as a role model of a woman pushing through in traditionally male-dominated businesses.
We asked her some questions about business start-ups.
What sort of support was there for women entrepreneurs when you launched your first business? and is there more out there today?
At 34, I had plenty of PLC experience and industry knowledge, before investing my savings into founding Lime Security Shredding in 2000. I didn’t find any mentoring then that prepared me for the challenges ahead; I just had big ideas and a determination to succeed. Fortunately I shared my business with two other entrepreneurial co-owners. My colleague Lindsey and I were the only two women business owners in our industry at that time, so we learned together.
Today more companies offer better employee care packages, including mentoring to support career progression to executive roles. The CIPD Gender pay gap analysis and Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship reports*, in part reference the commercial advantages of adding in-house mentoring to build a richer business. For advice on how to implement this rewarding personal development benefit, you can contact; www.enterprisenation.com/googlementoring/ or www.mentorsme.co.uk/.
How did you build up knowledge around financial tasks when you started out?
We agreed it was important to employ a professional accountant immediately. Managing finance was a steep learning curve, cashflow was especially challenging. Our priority was to pay our team every Friday. I have learned that consistently providing fantastic, flexible, friendly service is appreciated, and happy customers will often settle invoices quickly.
Did you hire in specialist expertise or build your own, and which is best?
We chose to interview new crew ourselves. We paid our team more than our competitors, satisfying staff, as well as customers who preferred to partner good employers sharing ‘Do Good Be Good Make Good’ CSR policies. After four years, our accountant recommended a business growth adviser supporting us for nine months, to prepare and manage our expansion plan, which significantly increased both revenue and profit. By 2007, annual turnover was £2.4 million, and we were attracting interest from three investors. Our accountant prepared us for sale, and we employed a reputable M&A solicitor. The nationwide industry competitor we sold to, agreed to TUPE all staff, and paid £10 million for our high value customer base.
Is there more advice and support nowadays and how should other would-be women entrepreneurs access it?
Be involved. Connecting with business advisers is FOC with New Anglia Growth Hub. Their excellent programmes include peer to peer business learning, as well as specific training courses for small and scale-up business leaders. A part-funded Leadership for Women course, in collaboration with the IOD, is being offered by University of Suffolk. l have also met with inspiring Angel Investors at Anglia Capital Group, who provide scale-up funding for innovative businesses.
Attending networking events is time well spent, as by and large they are motivational and supportive. 1,200 businesswomen connect with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Business Women’s group. In part we introduce remarkable women who share their stories. We also campaign for mentor support within businesses, and champion a bespoke SBW equality and diversity pledge for organisations of all sizes in all sectors. Suffolk Young Chamber also manage career meetings and mock interviews, connecting businesses, whilst supporting Suffolk school and college students.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Like most women, I have not invested or saved enough into a pension, and I regret not starting this sooner. Although women often earn less than men in equivalent roles, and often spend more on childcare, take time to meet a FA annually and prepare for a secure future.
Main image: Getty Images