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Karren Brady’s career advice from difficult bosses to setting up a company


APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she helps out a woman who is having trouble communicating with her boss and a cleaner hoping to start her own business.

Q) I work as a designer at an advertising agency, and despite proving time and again that I’m good at my job, my boss always gives the most prestigious and interesting work to two of my colleagues he is friends with outside of work.

I want to be given more opportunities so I can progress in my career, but I don’t know how to speak to my boss or colleagues about it as they’re such good mates. Help!

Kat, via email

A) It’s hard when your boss has favourites. Your relationship with your manager is the most important at work, so it’s vital you get it right. It’s also important that instead of sulking you have a plan for how to bring about change.

First, be positive about yourself and your talent. You know that not getting the best projects has nothing to do with your ability, so that should give you comfort.

Now to deal with speaking to your boss! You should have a conversation, not a confrontation. Don’t make this about what your colleagues are getting – make it about you. And don’t accuse your boss of having favourites, as this suggests he is being unprofessional by giving the good projects to others because of the relationship outside work (even if this is the case!).

It’s not a competition with your colleagues, you just want an equal opportunity. It may be that your boss has always given the projects to them because you have never said you want to do them. So it’s much better to say: “I notice that XXX got the opportunity to do XYZ, and I would like to do that, too.”

It’s always good to ask how you are doing and what they would like to see from you, as it gives you a chance to explain how you’d like to see your role grow. If he then gives you a chance, really nail it so you ensure you get another!

Q) I’m a cleaner for a large company and I’ve been thinking about setting up on my own. I work hard and am good with people, so I don’t think I’d have any problem getting clients and impressing them, but the thing putting me off is the admin and financial work involved.

I’m no good with figures, and while I know I could pay someone else to do it, I worry I then wouldn’t make any profit! Any advice?

Val, via email

A) I recently did an event with Rachael Flanagan, founder of cleaning services company Mrs Buckét, and she is a brilliant example of how to grow your own business.

Rachael started Mrs Buckét in 2005 at 18, using her last £20. She couldn’t even afford a vacuum or a mop at the time, instead using the money for flyers!

After a lot of hard work, Mrs Buckét now employs more than 250 people, services 150 corporate premises daily and has a turnover of £3million. Rachael would be the first to say you just need to go for it!

You should look into a government business start-up loan ( – the scheme provides support with business plans, cash-flow forecasts and 12 months of free mentoring, so you could choose someone good at finance.

You’d be surprised how quickly you pick it up, then as your business grows you can get an accountant. Stay organised with your paperwork and write everything down. Best of luck – exciting times ahead for you!

Compiled by: Claire Frost

on on or EMAIL [email protected]

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