We spoke with Suzanne from Kedleston Health and Safety about how she started up the business, this is her story.
I’m Suzanne and I am the owner of Kedleston Safety, I initially became a business owner to accommodate a change in family life and the need for a more flexible way of working. I wanted to make sure I could attend my children’s assemblies and sports days and be there to pick them up from school. I wanted to be able to promote health and safety in the Derby business community and support business owners to manage their health and safety responsibilities easily and effectively.
Kedleston Safety are a health and safety consultancy based on Pride Park in Derby. There’s a variety of H&S services available from consultancy, mentoring, acting as businesses competent person to deliver training. Our client bases ranges from SMEs to manufacturing to education and healthcare, each business has a bespoke service from us in that it’s tailored to their requirements, operating environment and most importantly their people.
I studied at Derby University gaining a degree in environmental studies and then a masters in environmental management. I have had a 20 year career, starting at Atkins Rail through to becoming the health and safety consultant I am today. In December 2016 I decided to bite the bullet and set up my own business, Kedleston Safety was founded. I knew I liked to talk to people and was pretty good at training so that was the first area I concentrated on. How I approached this was using my ISOH membership so I could see who I needed to call to ask if they needed a freelance trainer. Luckily this exercise netted me 4 who said yes please and I still train for 2 of them today. I’ve been really lucky that word of mouth has secured me more business than anything else.
The best thing about running a business is that I can decide the way in which my business develops. I can decide what services we offer and the clients we work with. I’ve worked hard on building up my network and I am proud to know a number of Derby business owners well enough to call them friends. Sometimes as a new business owner it can be quite lonely, but having a network of people who have been or are in the same position as you ensures you never feel you are alone. There is always someone who has the answer or who can guide you in the right direction. As a business owner you have an overview on everything needed to run a business, however, knowing does not make you an expert! This is why it is so important to surround myself with a network or army of business owners. Their expertise is of immeasurable value to me.
A commitment I made to myself is to change the view of Health and Safety. Whether that’s the reputation of been the fun police or the dread people feel when someone says ‘health and safety are here’! From the onset of the business I was clear, we would not be the finger pointing and clip board type of consultancy. I wanted to work with businesses to be able to support them, after all, health and safety should the beating heart of a business. Our message is quite clear ‘health and safety made simple’ it doesn’t need to be complicated, it’s about everyone going home in the same way they came to work.
I have been fortunate enough to be a finalist of the female entrepreneur of the year award from the East Midlands Chamber for the last 2 years. We were also named as one of Theo Paphitis SBS winners, I even got to meet him this year and he really is a lovely man. Winning these awards gives me the affirmation that I am on the right track as a business owner.
Covid and lockdown have been hard, we saw to drop in business and enquires, however I turned this into a positive and was able to spend my time with my girls and also work on the business.
My two bits of advice for becoming a business owner would be;
- Go for it, you can do it!
- Build up your network and make connections with people in your industry.
So what’s next for me and Kedleston Safety? I have grown the business over lockdown and have been lucky to have a new starter, a part-time very experienced lady who has made it possible to add first aid training to our portfolio. The plan for the next two years is to grow the training side of the business, I would also like to do more mentoring. I get such a great sense of achievement from helping someone grow in their own health and safety journey.
The driving force for starting up a business was the need to have flexibility in my personal life. Since starting Kedleston Safety I have never looked back, being my own boss has certainly achieved the flexibility I wanted and more importantly to do the job I really love my way.