When you are young the skills you can learn whilst doing Saturday jobs are all too easily forgotten as we develop in our careers. It’s refreshing to hear how Davina became and integral part of and now owns Richard Petrie Optometrists, based in Derby.

Since 2016 I have owned a single independent optical practice in Littleover, where I also pretty much grew up! I worked with Richard, who owned and set up the practice over 40 years ago and began doing jobs as a Saturday girl while I was at University studying Optometry. Richard had an exit plan and I became part of that which worked really well.

We offer a highly skilled service with access to advanced eyecare and eyewear technology and an exceptional service. Richard was the first to acquire an OCT in the area on 2007, so we have over 13 years experience using a very advanced machine in order to examine eyes.

We choose to educate our customers about some amazing products out there in the lenses available to correct your vision. There is so much investment and advancement in technologies used for lens design and as wearers of high quality lenses and eyewear ourselves, we feel it is important to share this with our patients.

Richard was a great business mentor and his love for technology was and still is something which inspires me. I still have moments where I think “What would Richard do?”.

Before settling back in Littleover and taking over the business, I worked in many areas and types of optical practices which was invaluable in having perspective and seeing how it can be done…there is not just one route to get where you want to go.

Working alongside Richard meant I had a really comfortable and steady transition into business ownership as he was around before and after the takeover. He was a great mentor and has shaped a lot of the ethos in the continued running of the practice in a positive way.

I love the independence of working for myself, I love being able to make decisions and problem solve. I love dealing with other businesses with a likeminded attitude and having that choice that I can decide who I will use to help us best. I think the thing I enjoy most about owning a business is feeling independent.

I think I always envisaged working for myself. When I was younger I don’t think I ever visualised having a job where I worked for someone. Of course I was employed for many years but when the opportunity arose for business ownership, I never questioned it.

The past 8 months have been the most challenging time I have faced in business so far (and I imagine this is the case for most other businesses). There have been so many so many changes and adaptations having to be made, thought, re thought and considered. It really has been and continues to be a real rollercoaster of relentless twists and turns. That said, although it is uncertain, I am optimistic we will get through it.

If I was to be asked by someone who was thinking of setting up a business I would say YES, go for it…you can only know what it will be like once you do it and you never fail…you only learn! Give yourself time to think and plan and use your people to give you their ideas and inspiration but just go for it!

The next thing(s) I am looking into is how we can increasingly become more sustainable and eco-friendly by stocking recycled or eco-conscious brands. I feel so strongly that we can all do more for our planet and need to spread the Attenborough effect wider.

We have an imminent new website launching which I am really excited about that I feel speaks to our patients and reflect us accurately. I am also thinking of new technology for a further enhanced eye examination service.

I have never truly felt like quitting. As we all do, some days I feel fed up, but I feel I have a responsibility for my team and enjoy the challenge sometimes even when it is difficult! With the right attitude I believe we can always use these experiences and challenges to improve our future selves. It can be cathartic but the bad times are not permanent and good to remember that nor are the good!

Can you give our readers some advice for starting a new business?

If you are thinking of starting a new business make sure you have a “can do attitude”, go with your gut, do right for the best business decisions. You may be challenged at times but do what is right for the business and for you.

It is SO important to make sure you have ways to switch off. Time away from the business means you are better when you are there and the time away gives you better perspective, allows you to foster new ideas and think about where the business is going and where you want to take it. Time out for me means meditation, yoga, a good book, seeing family and friends (which has been difficult of late) and the odd sandy beach if I can get one in!

The advantages to running your own business will be unique to each business owner, but for me it is being in charge of my time and being free to make choices and decision in where I take the business and support other business that support me. It is having choice, we have choice in all we do and to have this in business is a great thing.

Richard Petrie