Movers and Shakers | Karen Power | Drug & Alcohol Education Services

image of Karen Power
Karen Power

Why did you decide to go into business?

After working in the drugs field as a practitioner for eight years, I knew I was a good communicator and was capable of working for myself. I also never really liked the politics that exist in organisations and as a Black woman I have always wanted to work for myself.

When did you come up with your business idea?

I initially trained as a counselor and group facilitator then went on teacher training in Westminster. I worked as a drug treatment practitioner in a variety of treatment facilities. I worked with both young people and adults then moved on to teaching drug education to adults. This gave me the confidence to set up my own company and deliver drug education for a living. I finally walked out of my last full-time paid job in 2002, and joined a organisation called Street Cred. They help women who want to set up their own business in the community, by giving them initial business support and a very low-interest loan once you showed commitment to starting your own business.

Tell us about the business planning stage.

I applied to HBV (Hackney Business Venture) for business support. I had a business advisor who was really helpful and at the same time I applied for the NES programme (New Entrepreneur Scholarship). I was accepted and received support attending East London University on a number of business courses. We were promised a £3000 grant if we wrote a viable business plan. My business advisor helped me get the plan together. My plan was successful and I received the grant as promised. This was a great help because I was able to literally use the money to set up my business.

Tell us about any setbacks you have had.

I have been fortunate I cannot say I have had any setbacks. Taking on partners and not having the time to expand and grow the business can feel like a setback at times. Though setbacks also give you an opportunity to try something different, so I see them as a learning curve.

What is a typical day like?

I usually start with a to- do list and work through all my tasks. Working for myself I do not really have a set time to work. I try not to over work but when the need arises I put in all the hours …weekends etc.
I also have a life coach who helps me with goal setting so my workplace is well-ordered and thought out. I usually stop for lunch and that’s often at my desk (not good!)

Has your family been supportive?

I don’t think my family really understands fully what it means to give up the regular pay cheque and go it alone. My mum tends to ask how things are going, but families can feel uncomfortable with change.

What do you love most about what you do?

Engaging with people all different types and knowing that I call all the shots.

Is there anything that you dislike?

Not really, sometimes it’s hard to trust the process, take regular breaks and plan ahead. Also, chasing people who owe me money, but luckily for the most part I get paid on.

Where do you see your venture in five years time?

I hope to have expanded and developed the business maybe even gone on to selling products. I would like to have a nice small team who are committed to developing themselves and growing the business.

Do you feel that there is enough government support for start-up and growing businesses?

“ Seek and ye shall find” the support is there, you just have to be willing to put the effort in and in my experience the help always comes.

Do you feel that there is enough government support for start-up and growing businesses?

There is support and it has grown over the years but it certainly is nowhere near enough.

How do you relax ?

I enjoy theatre, reading, movies relaxing at home. I also believe in God so sometimes I go to church or just enjoy hanging out with my family and girlfriends. Oh and shopping!

What’s your advice to potential female entrepreneurs?

Follow your dreams, be true to yourself, get good advise put together a business plan do your research and an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. The winner says, it may be difficult but it is possible. The loser says it may be possible but it’s too difficult.

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