APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she helps out a 20-year-old is keen to challenge her by launching a business and a mum who is worried her son is getting nowhere with finding a job.

Q: I’m 20 years old and I work in a coffee shop. I’m now the supervisor and training manager and have learned a lot.

I’m ambitious and would like to challenge myself, but my boss doesn’t always allow me the opportunity to learn more about management.

I’d love to open my own coffee shop, but I don’t know anything about renting a premises or sorting suppliers.

Should I explore this venture now or look for another job to get more experience?

Katie, via email

A: There are two key things you need to start your own business: persistence and to not allow yourself to fear failure. The more prepared you are, the greater the chances of success.

Preparation can come from anywhere and anyone. If you have identified a gap in the market, something that will make your coffee shop unique – a great name or a great marketing plan, for example – and you know how to actually run the shop, then you are 90% there.

Gaps in your knowledge, such as renting a premises, are easy to fill by surrounding yourself with mentors who have different experiences and skills. If you plan to open your own shop, you might need a loan.

If you go to the bank with a great business and marketing plan they will help you with the basics of business and with the gaps you have in your knowledge.

Alternatively, start an online business management course or pick the brains of your current manager and drain them of every bit of knowledge they have.

In relation to the shop, you should begin looking at locations and what is available. Start your business plan “upside down” – work out what your running costs are versus likely takings and that will tell you the rent you can afford, then don’t go a penny above it.

I’m excited for you – you have a great future in front of you!

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!


Q: My son has applied for hundreds of jobs and is getting nowhere. If he gets an interview and is rejected, he always asks for feedback but none of the companies have replied.

I understand people are busy, but without feedback he doesn’t know how to improve his applications and interview techniques. Do you have any advice?

Valerie, via email

A: If your son wants feedback, the best thing to do is to call (not email) the head of HR to ask them. And to keep calling until someone answers! Then it’s time to change his CV, as it’s clearly not working at the moment.

Networking is important, as is volunteering or even temping – it’s all about getting a foot in the door. I suggest he practises his interview skills with you or someone else, as coming across well is vital to getting a job.

Are any of your family or friends (or friends of friends!) in a similar industry and can offer some help or advice?

He should also broaden his job search, as getting some kind of job will boost his confidence and help him settle while he looks for his dream role. The most important thing is that he mustn’t get dejected and give up.

He will get a job eventually, and to speed up that process he has to arm himself with the best CV, best interview skills and as wide a search as possible.

Compiled by: Claire Frost

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

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