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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Ruth Badger

Ruth Badger is the director and founder of The Ruth Badger Consultancy (RBC), a growth consultancy which helps owner-managed SMEs to transform their business by driving revenue and making improvements across their team.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I was born and raised in Wolverhampton and had a great childhood/young adult life. I’m from a working class family where I watched my parents work numerous jobs to give me and my brother all we needed. We had plenty of love and support but not so much money. I think that’s where my confidence came from to do so much so young in my career as my parents were always right behind me. They encouraged me to take chances and live my life to the full and I always felt secure to do that. I do believe the fact we had little money fuelled my passion to be rich; a passion which I had from an early age.

I didn’t enjoy school as I wasn’t engaged . I used to get in trouble for talking too much in class, which is no surprise considering I have made a good living from it ever since!

My first job was earning £50 a week as a YTS in the Civil Service and it gave me the chance I needed. From there I worked hard and did numerous jobs to climb the ladder, however, I decided the public sector wasn’t where my passion was, so in my early 20s, I moved into sales and sales management.

Within 18 months of joining a financial broker owned by GE Capital, I was promoted 3 times and won European employee of the year. That changed my life as it catapulted me to bigger and higher earning roles. However, that same year, I took a massive risk when I decided to leave GE Capital for a smaller company, but it was worth the risk. I became part of that company’s floatation and by the age of 27, was a Sales Director of a PLC. Back in 2004, that was rare for that age range or gender.

From there, I took another risk and applied for BBC’s The Apprentice, which was another life changer. I did very well on the show and to this day, have traded well off the reputation I carved for myself following my performance. That experience taught me humility and came at the right time for me; The Apprentice taught me that you are all equal in business and it is ability and hard work that excels. I walked out a very different woman to the one who entered.

The following years saw me present my own successful business recovery show, however, TV and the subsequent press intrusion just wasn’t for me.

After that, I launched The Ruth Badger Consultancy Limited, which focuses on growing businesses and people. Being a consultant is like being on The Apprentice – everyone watches what you do and there is no room for failure as you are only as good as your last project success!

At RBC, we have a real passion for growing owner led businesses and have been doing it for 18 years with proven success. Growing someone else’s business is hard as you have to improve people, processes and practices that you don’t own! Most business owners know what their issues are but aren’t always brave enough or willing to address them. That’s where we excel as our method is strong. We work out what needs to be done, who or what needs to be changed, what growth strategy needs to be implemented, and then we do it.

We have helped companies who were hitting a £15m ceiling to achieve £38m; it may have taken us five years but we got there. We have also grown smaller businesses sub £1m to achieve £5m in less than two years. Not everyone wants to sell or exit their business, so our approach one of empowerment; we identify and deal with the issues, upskill the team, set and mentor on strategy and leave once it’s being delivered successfully.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

This is the most random answer I think you will ever get to this question! The idea for RBC came on the sofa of a breakfast TV show (GMTV); I was being interviewed the day after The Apprentice ended about what I was going to do. I answered that if any business owner needed help to grow their sales to ring or email me………the requests have never stopped!

How did you achieve awareness?

I need to answer this in two ways:


From an early age, I have always been self-aware as I wasn’t great at reading, writing or spelling. In fact, I’m still not the best speller and will never be the one volunteering to use the whiteboard in a meeting! I would say my full awareness came when I had to watch myself of TV for three months, with every saying, expression and manner over analysed. Some I liked, some I didn’t which made me change. I would say as I’ve gotten older, I am more self-aware as I have more responsibility; I have a daughter, older parents I look after and staff.

Business Awareness

I achieved my business awareness over many years and through doing many different things. Awareness to me is being knowledgeable but also being relevant. By nature, I’m inquisitive so I’m always looking for new things to interest me and I always want to know how successful people/businesses got to where they are. Being a consultant gave me awareness as advice is all well and good but if it doesn’t work its someone else’s business being impacted.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

The best example I can give here is about a business I sold in 2022. I owned an IT business which launched in 2010. I had no real interest in IT and I wasn’t working full time in the business until COVID hit. This business had coasted for 10 years, had 18 staff and turned under £1m.

COVID meant RBC couldn’t trade properly so I put my full focus on the IT business. This was on 18/03/20 and I sold the business on 11/07/22. At that point we had 40 staff and turned £5m, which is impressive growth. This happened due to two factors; mindset and focus. I treated my own business like a consultancy project and it worked.

Funding is an element to growth as it enables spend and investment but that doesn’t work unless you have a plan and that is what I had. I sat and set a 2-year growth plan. I mapped out the headline areas which influenced growth; commercial, delivery and people. I set a logical and educated budget and I sought the buy in from my co-directors and senior team. I then explained everything to the whole team as it was key that they were taken on the journey. The focus was then set and from there it was all about mindset and hard work.

Some things didn’t work and trading through COVID was hard but the growth mindset focused on the three areas worked.

Halfway through, in 2021, I started looking for funding which was simple as the plan was in place. I would say that’s the key to gaining funding quickly and at the amount you need. They want to know what it’s for, what it will do and what you will gain. The funding allowed us to acquire a smaller company which I used to elevate the value of the business when we sold. The plan never included a sale but I had generated so much sustainable growth that a buyer offered more than I expected so I sold and never looked back.

What are the key successes?

I will always say money first, and by that, I mean profit, but your approach has to be balanced. It’s no good having lots of profit at the sacrifice of growing your turnover. Equally don’t spend what you haven’t got. Turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. You have to watch both lines equally.

Having a good team that you can trust and who contribute to the success. I always say I put people around me that are better than I am and I tell them. You can’t have a good business without good people and it is crucial you let them contribute and flourish. I would rank team and culture within my top three of business successes.

I think everyone should have a plan and that is in business and life. Setting personal, career and business goals are key to achieving them. I am well known for talking about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) but for me I can’t achieve something without saying what it is! We all need a dream to have a purpose.

Lastly, I think the definition of success is to enjoy what you are doing. My partner, family and team will say I moan all the time about how hard I work but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. I am a self-confessed workaholic and I think that’s a good thing as I love what I do. One of my beliefs is you can’t buy time so don’t waste it. If you aren’t happy with what you are doing you will never feel success. I’ve had money and been unhappy so I changed what I did and who I did it with. Being happy and enjoying my life is the key to success.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

I’ve faced many challenges in my business career; ageism, sexism and then homophobia. I developed a thick skin at an early age and my mindset has always been that work ethic will overcome any prejudice as you can’t argue with performance.

Business-wise, every day throws challenges at you and if it doesn’t, you aren’t pushing hard enough. I have found the main challenge in business isn’t money related, it’s people. Getting the right ones, keeping them motivated, changing behaviours and getting the best out of them. Getting the culture right in a business is key to overcoming challenges and succeeding.

I think a current and future challenge lies within the ever changing work place caused by different generational working practices, ethic and attitudes. Getting that right and moving your culture and environment in line with times is crucial.

What are your plans now/for the future?

I am currently working hard on relaunching my growth consultancy RBC. This year we celebrate our 18th birthday so a relaunch may sound odd but it’s needed. We have just completed a share restructure and brought in three new shareholders/directors. The board is now all female and very experienced. We have just gone through a rebrand and redefined our services to ensure we offer the most value.

We are a growth expert for SMEs – owner-led businesses who want to grow but need help with strategy and people. My end goal is not to work beyond50 years of age, so I have five more years to go and plan to enjoy every minute.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

My advice is simple; don’t take yourself too seriously and just get on with it! People who become infatuated with being an entrepreneur rarely become one. Find your passion, something you really love, and go for it. The harder you work at something the bigger the result.

Set yourself stepping stones; take small steps quickly and you will start to build your business. Activity leads to revenue so make sure you focus on business generation and delivery. Charge more than you spend and you will be well on your way.

Most importantly, work hard. Nothing comes overnight and it’s important to reflect on what you do. Make sure you have no regrets……it’s the things we don’t do in life we regret, not the things we do!

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

  1. Have a plan and set short term goals which lead to your ultimate end goal.
  2. Don’t waste time as it’s the only thing money can’t buy!
  3. Buy in expertise in areas you are weak in. Every day is a school day and you will save time and learn from people who have a proven specific skill set.
  4. Enjoy every minute and if you don’t, change direction.
  5. Finally, be honest with yourself. You can pretend to everyone else but only you know your true success.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

Most of the people who inspire me aren’t famous or rich but live their lives with qualities that motivate me:

  1. My mom as she taught me work ethic by example and is the best negotiator I know!
  2. Princess Anne as she is a great example of a successful woman. Strong, determined, hard working and certainly not one to be messed with.
  3. My old business partner Anthony Hautin. His zest for business is contagious, he is younger than me, sharp on innovation and excites me with his ideas.
  4. The singer Pink. An amazing example of a successful working mom. A savvy business woman who manages to balance world wide success, being a business woman and a mother.
  5. Finally, my 4 year old daughter. She is the reason I get up, work so hard and stay so sharp and that’s just to keep up with her!

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

  • “Hard work will always overcome natural talent when natural talent doesn’t work hard enough” – Alex Ferguson
  • “Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed” – Laurence Overmire
  • “Leadership is not about being the best, it’s about making everyone else better!”
  • “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful” – Herman Cain

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?