How do you start a million-pound business with just £5,000?

Think you need deep pockets or significant investment to start a million-pound business? Find out how one mother did it with just £5,000.

Karen Holden, award-winning solicitor and equal rights activist is one of the most disruptive lawyers of our generation, regardless of gender! Law is traditionally a male-dominated industry, but Karen is paving the way for change and challenging misconceptions of what a top lawyer like on an international level. 

Her work ethic is unparalleled and her story inspirational – from growing up on a council estate to starting her own business from just £5,000 all whilst raising her child. Her firm, A City Law Firm, is now listed in the Legal 500 with clients ranging from SME’s to multi-million-pound businesses.  

Karen took a leap into entrepreneurship and has never looked back. In light of International Women’s Day, she wants to encourage more women to go for it too. Here’s some words of encouragement and top tips from Karen on how to smash it as an entrepreneur.

Why you should start your own company

There are many advantages to running your own business which far outweigh the difficulties. Striving to meet your own goals means you maintain your own standards, ethics and achievements.

I left my high-profile job at an international law firm due to the negative reception I received when considering starting my own family. So, I decided to start my own business. This meant my career could continue to evolve, rather than suffer, as I was juggling work and children.

I have also been able to make sure others never felt like being a parent could jeopardise their careers or compromise being a parent. Furthermore, there is nothing more exciting than disrupting a traditional male-led sector by paving the way for other women to progress.

Five top tips for success

  1. Work clever – you need a good work ethic whilst still juggling life, so it works for you and your business. I started my own business from just £5,000, it took a lot of sleepless nights and working around the clock to get to where we are today.
  2. Never give up – if you are not making mistakes you are not innovating and evolving. Many businesses collapse in the first three year due to poor cash flow so keep a tight rein on your budget and debtors 
  3. Be passionate about what you do – if you don’t enjoy or understand aspects hire/outsource to professionals that can do this for you. Don’t try and do everything yourself 
  4. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself – it may go against the grain but scaling, seeking investment or clients you need to sell yourself and promote why they should choose you.
  5. Have a good ego system and circle of advisors and mentors – advice from experienced people is vital 

Stay inspired

Learn from other women, whether in history, your industry, in your life or who you meet along the way. It’s always good to have a role model to look up to. Here are five women who inspire me:

  1. My mum – she worked two jobs to get me through university this sacrifice meant everything 
  2. Margaret Thatcher – we may not have agreed with everything done or decided but she took on the most male-dominated sector and paved a way for us all
  3. Lady Barbra – a judge that changed the judiciary from within 
  4. Princess Diana – for being a good human being. Despite her life pressures her time dedicated to charity and aids humanitarian work was inspiring to all  
  5. Emmeline Pankhurst – best rememberedfor organising the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote. We all owe a lot to her.

It’s amazing how far we have come over the past 100 years. Women owning their own business is something many could have only dreamed of. But there are still changes that need to be made for greater equality, with there still being gender pay gaps and gender disparities in the workplace and few too many women in senior leadership positions.

Striving for these positions or being your own boss means you can drive this long-term change. It’s important to never give up on your dreams and to remember “If a door closes on you either go around it or like me break it down!”

Karen Holden is CEO of A City Law Firm.