You can listen to Victoria’s story by clicking below
‘I was the first one there and the last one home. Anyone who wants to run their own business has to put that in…of course they do.’
Victoria Peterkin, Daisy Nurseries
Pendle College, BA Hons English Literature 2006
Victoria Peterkin is the Managing Director of Daisy Nursery Ltd, a company she has grown to 55 people strong, branching out to four nurseries across the UK. In the last six years she has won the Inspire 11 Young Business Person of the Year Award and the WIB15 Woman of the Year Award as well as achieving ‘Ofsted Outstanding’ status for her business.
So, how did you get started in the nursery business?
It started from the fact that in my village there wasn’t a nursery. There was a huge gap in the market. I went off and did some volunteer work at local nurseries and I did this alongside my job until I knew I could get investment.
I wrote a very long business plan. I didn’t know what a business plan looked like! I took it to NatWest and they gave me £55,000 and I had to tell them what my ten year plan was going to be. I told them my brand’s name was going to be Daisy Nursery and all of my nurseries would be a different daisy. I sold it to them on the fact that I was going to open fourteen nurseries and so they gave me the go ahead to get started.
You mentioned you worked for big organisations before you started your own thing, how did that add value to your personal development?
I learnt a lot from the managers, some were great and I still think about them now when I have a really tough decision, but some were awful. I ‘d think to myself, ‘That’s not how you manage, I know that and I’m nineteen.’
So when I came to starting my own business after years of working for some great managers, and some rubbish managers I knew who I wanted to be. I would recommend anybody going out and paying your dues and going and working for other companies because I learnt so many different things.
What do you need to take into account when starting your own business?
I was twenty four when I opened the first business and I faced a lot of prejudice and a lot of quiet hostility. ‘What do you know about anything?’ I think if you do open a business quite young you have to be prepared to face these attitudes.
There’s a lot of responsibility, it is all consuming and I think you shouldn’t be naïve if you are planning on doing something… there are times when your friends might be doing something else and you have to say, ‘No I can’t, I’ve got to be there and I have to do that because building my business has to come first.’
Do you think it matters what degree you do if you’re thinking of starting a business, and what part did Lancaster play on your entrepreneurial journey?
I don’t have a business degree, I have an English degree. It’s not just about what you’re studying, because although English has taught me how to write a pretty website, correct people’s punctuation and talk to people about articles and things, anything else I do is not to do with my major.
I had to stand up in presentations and talk about Othello and now I stand up in front of my fifty five people. We have an annual conference every year and I stand there and say this is what’s going on in the industry, this is what I want you to do, these are my focuses for you, these are the things we achieved last year. Lancaster taught me all that, Lancaster gave me the confidence to think critically and it also taught me to stand on my own two feet.
For more inspiration and stories of success and failure, return to the Startup Stories gallery.
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