6 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Carlene Jackson is the CEO of Brighton-based tech company Cloud9 Insight, a Microsoft Gold Partner which has provided more than 700 UK businesses with cloud-based CRM software systems. Founded in 2010, the company has 35 staff, and Carlene is a board member for diversity and inclusion on the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP). Carlene established her first business in Brighton aged 17 and then spent nearly two decades in the software industry working for companies including IBM, Xansa, and Sage before going it alone to take advantage of the booming cloud technology sector.
What would you you’d love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?
At the time I was inspired to start Cloud9 Insight, I was visiting Jamaica on a work trip with my husband who is a British Airways Captain. Having grown up in Barbados as a kid, I was reminded how entrepreneurial people are in countries where less opportunity exists, fewer expectations on what the state and your employer will give you – but there is a focus on what you can do for yourself. This entrepreneurial spirit starts from creating something of value, a service or product that others value and are prepared to pay for, and it’s not always an invention of something new – I had previously assumed this was the only seed for being your own boss. My brother, my closet mentor, said: “Do what others are doing, but do it better.” This proves there is a market for what you are doing, and where there is demand you can likely make it commercially viable and sustainable.
If you don’t want to take the leap alone, consider asking your existing employer or seek out a new one that may sponsor you to incubate a new venture. They will likely have the investment of people, time and expertise to make a success of your ideas, and potentially, in return, you could negotiate a stake in this success. Most of all, what is important is that what you do is purpose driven, not purely for making money, as you are much more likely to be successful if the purpose you strive for is shared by others. This collective drive is what will make the difference.
What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?
1. Ensure that what you want to do is commercially viable. I have supported entrepreneur start up initiatives and been concerned about the commercial sustainability of some of the ideas which, whilst they may be great, the profit they could not generate was not enough to sustain the investment required to grow the business.
2. Surround yourself with great people – the best you can – who are strong executors. Don’t hesitate to outsource what is not core to your business, eg bookkeeping, HR or even packaging.
3. Do not give shares or control away from your business unless you know the other people very very well – consider a profit share instead of simply giving 50% of your business away with no certainty of their commitment to support the company’s success. A chance meeting and agreement to set up a company may result in you owning half a company for which you do 100% of the work and still legally have to share 50% of the profits.
4. Hire young people as part of your team, such as those on new KickStart scheme or via Apprenticeships, often they can free up more senior people to do some of the things that really matter if you have the capacity to delegate
5 Be clear on where you want to go, what you want to be and why – and ensure your team share this vision and can articulate is with the same clarity as you. This will ensure that you don’t, as a team, get distracted along the way and you are more likely to achieve the vision. And don’t be shy to dream big – that is what often our male counterparts do well.
Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?
My daughter Saoirse who is incredibly determined, hard working and lives by her beliefs with complete dedication, especially when it comes to making a difference with the environment. She gives 100% to all that she does but still makes time for fun in her life and is independent in her thinking, not just to follow the crowd but to rise above and stand up for what she believes. Her name means freedom in Irish – and her middle name Charlotte means strong woman, so perhaps her name helped in the making of her.
My mum, who spent much of her life as a single mum. I have enjoyed many unique experiences in my life, from living in a remote Scottish croft in the Highlights of Scotland to spending some of my childhood in Barbados and even a period of homeschooling, which taught me how to really self-learn, a critical skill in life. My mum is one of the most talented and creative people whose art www.susancolours.art is enjoyed by many around the world. She has a love of people that I share and has a love of teaching and learning.
Dianne Ferry, a close friend, high-flying HR executive and wife of the Honorary Consul of Estonia in Scotland. She grew up in Estonia with a single mum and, as an only child at the time just emerging from the Soviet grip, aged 16 she moved to Germany to work as an Au Pair. From here, she moved to the UK and, at a young age, fell in love with the man of her life – a very lucky man. Whilst I admire her hard work and incredible achievements to gain a masters in HR, as well as her inspirational ideas on this subject, what I most adore about her is her positive energy and enthusiasm for life, which she lives to the full. If I was reincarnated to be like anyone else in life, it would be a version of Dianne.
Jennifer Yanoff, a partner at PWC in Boston, whom I had the great honour to work with many years ago. Her devotion to her team and her work ethic and focus was a lesson to me that, if you surround yourself with a great team that are empowered and can execute, there is no limit to what can be achieved.
My sister-in-law Ger would definitely come in my top 5 most inspiring women whom I have the pleasure to know. She is an amazing mum and partner to my brother. They say behind every successful man is a great woman – and she, I am sure, has been an incredible rock for my brother’s amazing entrepreneurial achievements. There are many parallels in our lives, not going to university because of a love to work in air traffic control (yes that is me, too), and, whilst working, completing a degree. She has a gift of positivity and seeing the good in people that means the circle of energy around her is infectious and leaves you feeling joy that you wish you could bottle it, use it every day and share it with those who have not met her. Sometimes, the best gift you can give is listening and encouragement, and she has this quality in abundance.
What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?
Be careful what you think – it will manifest itself – positive or negative. 90% of what you experience in life is what you think – reality is the rest. Live life with an abundance mindset.
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