Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Let's Get Down to Business: Emma-Jane Taylor, the Works Company

EMMA-JANE TAYLOR is managing director of the Works Company, running a series of lifestyle businesses. She is also an author, mentor and speaker. Born in Marlow, she he left school at 16 and thought she wanted to be a hairdresser so went on an NVQ course at The Henley College until dermatitis forced her to abandon hairdressing as a career. She then spent three summers in Spain doing a variety of jobs. Back in the UK, her passion for dancing led her to working as a dancer in musical theatre. This was the springboard for many of the things she does today. She moved to Henley in 1995 and now lives with her partner, 10-year-old daughter, dog and two cats. She loves keeping fit, walking,and swimming. Her book, Don’t Hold Back, the story of her early struggle and hardship and how she fought back, was published last year.

Describe your business

I’m the founder and managing director of StageWorks Performing Arts School, NutritiousWorks, OceanWorks Retreats and SHEnetWORKS UK.

These are all based on my love of networking and supporting others in business and life. My most recent venture is the Emma Jane Show on YouTube.

How many people does it employ?

I work with more than 27 part-time, self-employed associates. I have a PA and eight people in my production team.

What did you do before you started this business?

After my time in Spain and in musical theatre, I decided to get a proper job so I became a rep selling photocopier warranties. The job came with a new car, a decent salary and very good commission but I hated it. I then did all sorts of things, including teaching dance. I trained as a personal trainer and was invited to choreograph the HAODS’ production of Me and My Girl at the Kenton Theatre. I set up StageWorks Performing Arts School for three- to 16-year-olds 20 years ago next year.

What was your objective in starting your business?

To give back, to offer opportunities to children and adults and to work with my community.

Who or what influenced you?

So many people have inspired me but it was my own determination that drove me.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

I still talk to my old boss at the gym where I was a personal trainer. She was tough but I respect her.

What would you do differently if you could begin again?

Every failure has been a lesson but I know I should have stepped back at times and thought things through more, which I do now.

How is your business doing?

It continues to grow. I believe you have to speculate to accumulate. I invest in myself and develop new products which will have a global reach.

How do you market your business?

Social media is vital. I’m all over it! We put small ads in the Henley Standard and I write articles for magazines. Of course, personal recommendations and word of mouth are important too.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

The freedom to be creative.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Covering for staff if somebody is unable to work can be challenging but I’m blessed with a great team and fortunately it doesn’t happen often.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

To be brave enough to take risks. If I believe in it, I do it.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Ask yourself, why do I want to do this? Do you know what you want to achieve? Do you know your demographics? Do you know what your short-term and long term goals are? To be super-organised and prepared to work really hard.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Not speaking out sooner and putting up with things I shouldn’t have had to put up with.

How organised are you?

Totally. I use a spreadsheet to keep a record of everything I need to do and tick things off as I go.

What three qualities are most important to success?

Good leadership and I don’t mean just from the front but also making sure that nobody gets left behind. Being open-minded and a good communicator.

What’s the secret of your success?

Facing every challenge and fear with confidence.

How do you dress for work each day?

It depends on what I’m doing on the day but I like to feel comfortable in whatever I wear.

What can’t you be without every day?

My mobile phone, although in August I turn everything off to indulge in my daughter. I set everything up online so nobody would know that I’m away.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

It depends on where I am and what I’m doing but I don’t normally eat at my desk as I don’t believe it is sensible.

Do you continue to study?

All the time. It’s really important and a key to my success.

What do you read?

Apart from the things I read to study, I relax with “Chick Lit” and trashy magazines!

How are you planning for retirement?

There are lots of countries I want to visit and explore. I want to enjoy life to the max.

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