After more than twenty years in the public sector, Anna Morgan utilised her experience and knowledge to start her own business, Red Shiny Apple, in the summer of 2015.
… It has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Red Shiny Apple provides training and consultancy in equality and diversity and unconscious bias in addition to team building and organisational culture change.
Her clients are predominantly from the public sector but she has recently expanded into the private sector, where she hopes to work more in the future.
Building Up Enterprise.
After leaving school, Anna worked in a bank then on a cruise ship before embarking on a ten-year career with South Wales Police. Starting in the control room, answering 999 calls, she soon became involved in training and development.
She approached the chief constable on the issue of inequality between support and operational staff regarding training opportunities, and was subsequently sent to the Bramshill National Police Training College in Hampshire. It was at this college, that Anna was “bitten by the bug” for training.
While balancing her training career with South Wales Police and raising a daughter, Anna also gained a string of qualifications, including a first class honours degree in post-compulsory education and training.
Time to Take a Risk.
On reading a job advertisement for a training and equality adviser for the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), she thought, “I could do that” and “I’ve done that”, applied, and was consequently offered the job. Twelve years later in 2014, however, funding cuts and the risk of redundancy led her to take the plunge and set up her own business.
There was still high demand for equality training and organisational development but the capacity for the public sector to deliver it was significantly reduced due to the funding cuts.
Inspired by her father, who had always encouraged her to work as a freelance, Anna thought, “It was time to do something new, but not new. It was now or never. It was time to take a risk.”
Determination and Time Management.
Given her experience, contacts and reputation, built over twenty years, Anna could dive into the business with a ready-made client base.
Her biggest success, however, has been building on that client base, which now includes Sport Wales and one of the largest media companies in London. “I never say no,” she says. “I’ll work in the evenings, I’ll work at weekends.
I’ve also passed jobs on to associates, who will do the work on behalf of Red Shiny Apple. During November 2015, I was out at work every single day.”
So how does she manage her time? “Determination is key. If you really want it to work, it will because you’re the person in charge.”
Anna is now in a position to hire an administrator, freeing her up to concentrate on the consultancy and training, and expanding the remit of the company.
A Completely Differenet Way of Life.
Despite excellent credentials and a lot of passion and determination, Anna acknowledges that starting your own business can be “scary” because everything is new.
She received invaluable support from Business Wales, where she attended free business start-up courses and was assigned a personal business adviser.
They helped Anna with everything from registering with Companies House to deciding whether to be a sole trader or a limited company, and evaluating the viability of her business idea.
“The courses and business adviser were really helpful,” she says.
Her business adviser told her that when he set up his home-based business some years before, he used to get up, get showered and dressed then leave his house by the front door and come back in through the back door, ready to work.
“You don’t necessarily get up and go to work in the morning,” says Anna. “It’s a completely different way of life.”
Planning Your Business.
Other challenges during start-up included getting a website, building a social media presence, pricing her services, getting a good accountant, and finding a memorable business name that would be easy for people to find online.
Having used red shiny apples as a symbol of positivity during some life coaching years before, Anna tested this as a business name.
She asked several friends which name they found more memorable: Red Shiny Apple or Anna Morgan Training and Development, abbreviated to AMTD. They unanimously preferred the former.
Anna’s top tip for other women starting up their own enterprises, something that she did not do initially because she already had a client base, is writing a business plan. “In the beginning, people would ring me and ring me and I had to react to those requests.
My business was very reactive, but you need to be proactive. What are the aims of my business? What do I want to achieve this quarter or this year-end?”
Business Wales offers free support to help potential entrepreneurs write a business plan, including online advice and a template plan. “If your market place is out there and you know your product is in demand,” says Anna. “I’d say 110% do it. Take that risk.”