At only 26 Anna Slater is a force to be reckoned with. She is the founder of North West Linen Services Ltd – a business that has already created 5 jobs within the past 2 years with a view to take on another 2 members of staff this year.
North West Linen Services Ltd is described by Anna as; ‘A family run laundry business dedicated to serving clients throughout Lancashire, Merseyside and the Wirral, with a range of customers from well-established hotel/restaurant chains to independent hotels, to catering companies, event dressers and wedding venues.’
Prior to starting her own business Anna had worked in the industry for the best part of 10 years but had also spent time working as a teaching assistant and an outdoor education instructor. Anna says; ‘I was bored of the jobs that I had been doing and wanted something new and exciting’. Self-employment is clearly in her blood as her father ran his own business so Anna had seen first-hand the benefits that working for yourself can bring.
‘I had always envisioned being self-employed but I didn’t think it would happen.’ And like most people who are considering self-employment there was always the fear factor; ‘Leaving a job where I knew I had an income and taking the risk on setting up a business was a scary prospect, especially at 24!’
The opportunity to set up North West Linen Services Ltd. came about after Anna was approached by a former client of hers and asked if it was possible for her to provide the laundry services for the company he worked for and says that; ‘I thought, this is worth a shot.’
Although she then realised at only 24 with no previous track record of running a business, that financing this would be the next challenge. ‘I was then introduced to Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF) by a former employer’, Anna secured a loan in 2014 and went onto secure a further loan through The North West Fund for Micro Loans, which MSIF manages, which she used to set up commercial premise, invest in equipment and take on new staff.
‘MSIF have been so supportive. Without them there is no way I would have been able to launch the business. The fact that they have had the faith to provide follow-on investment has really spurred me on and fuelled my ambition to continue to grow the company.’
As well as working closely with MSIF, Anna was directed to The Women’s Organisation via her local growth hub. ‘I had help putting together my original business plan and since then have received growth support. My Business Adviser Francine has been wonderful in helping me to focus on where I want to be and how I can get there. She has made me realise that I don’t have to stick the same things and that I can branch out.’
But of course the last 2 years haven’t been smooth sailing for Anna as with most business start-up stories – it’s been a challenge! At the start of North West Linen Services Anna still held down a full time job and worked on her business during the evenings. ‘At the beginning I had no life at all! I didn’t see my friends or much of my family. But once I left my full time job and now fully focus on the business I have managed to find time for myself again!’
Anna has also taken something that others might consider an obstacle and channelled it into something positive and motivational; ‘I’m dyslexic and was diagnosed later on in life. If anything this diagnosis made me want to become self-employed even more!’
‘I haven’t got the right mind-set to sit in a classroom and get the degree that would have enabled me to get a job that could provide me with the financial means to have the freedom I want. So I decided that working for myself was the way forward!’
And does Anna have any advice for others who are thinking about working for themselves? Well, yes – she has quite a bit! ‘My key piece of advice would be to try and get a good mentor – someone impartial who can give you honest views. Also research your market until you can’t research it anymore! And this is a cliché but it works – Always follow your gut.’
We have no doubt that North West Linen Services will continue to grow and grow as Anna aims to double her turnover within a year and gain new customers throughout the North West. ‘I’m only 26 and if you’d have asked me 5 years ago did I think that this was possible, I would have said no! It’s been one roller coaster journey, but I wouldn’t change it for the world’
If you would like to find out more about Anna’s business you can do so by visiting their website here!
And if you’ve been inspired by Anna’s story and would like support starting or growing your business, then get in touch with us! You can ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org