5 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Susannah is the Director General of the Direct Selling Association (DSA), the UK’s largest provider of part-time earning opportunities. Direct selling is an industry that is driven by women – over 90 per cent of those working as independent salespeople in the sector are female – and Susannah sees this as an opportunity to make a real impact – especially now as we emerge from a global pandemic.
Her position as a vocal champion for women saw her awarded an OBE in the 2015 Queen’s Honours List for her services to Small Businesses, Young People and Women in Business.
Susannah is also an author, having written and published business strategy book, Mind the Gap, and she lectures for The University of Kent and City, University of London, and has also served as an advisor to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
What would you love to share with other women to encourage them to start their own business?
Feel the fear and do it anyway! – I left a very secure, six-figure Board-level job with Royal Mail to start my entrepreneurial journey. It was a huge risk, and at times quite terrifying as I ploughed everything I had into my start-up, but that determination paid off, and I haven’t looked back. Just make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing – it makes the journey easier, the stress tolerable and the sense of achievement greater!
What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Try and take learnings from every situation. – Challenging situations are inevitable in life but can be hugely valuable if you are open and eager to learn from them.
Make work work for you – my portfolio career often means that I work long hours. But, as with many women, work is not the only thing in my life; I have children and other commitments that are extremely important to me, so I try to make sure that my week includes time for all aspects of my life, not just work. I’m a firm believer that balance makes people happier, more fulfilled and that has a positive effect on their professional life.
Always keep an eye on the long term. – Entrepreneurialism may sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride, but it’s important to also keep sight of your long-term goals.
Always lift others behind you. – I’ve benefited from some incredible mentors and support through the course of my professional life. From my first boss when I was 17 and working in a grocery shop in Sevenoaks, to the Chair of the Direct Selling Association’s Board, who has supported me since I took on the role of Director General. I see it as a duty for me to do the same, and I’m a particularly passionate advocate for women in business, which is one of the reasons I took up my current role.
Who are the top 5 women who inspire you the most?
My Grandmother, small, determined and incredibly strong. At 4ft 9” she was married to my six foot six Grandfather but ruled with a quiet determination that one had to respect.
My Mother, for all she did, for showing me work-life balance and for teaching me to respect myself and others.
Margaret Thatcher – love or hate her politics at a time before ‘girl power’ her reign and era allowed me to grow up with the ‘Iron Lady’ at the helm which led me to believe anything was possible, irrelevant of gender.
Madonna – strong, opinionated, challenging the status quo. Asking, pushing, demanding change. A rhetoric that was uncomfortable at times but showed me controversy wasn’t always wrong.
Princess Diana – someone who managed to use their privileged position to aide others, to shine a light of the poverty and the disparity of those in need. Selfless, giving endlessly to charity, a working mum who never gave up trying to make the world a better place.
What is your favourite saying/Inspirational quote?
It’s not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it’s how many time you get back up that counts.
I also say to my girls endlessly… “can’t means won’t try!”
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