How accident in cafe and £400 turned into a genius business idea that’s about to go global | UK News

How accident in cafe and £400 turned into a genius business idea that’s about to go global | UK News
Business

Just 18% of companies in the UK are led by women, and while data suggests female entrepreneurs are on the rise, men still receive more funding and are entrusted with higher average loans to get them started.

In an eight-part series for Sky News’ Money blog, our reporter Jess Sharp speaks to women who are bossing it in their respective fields – hearing their stories, struggles and advice for those who want to follow in their footsteps.

This week, she has spoken to Jenni Dunman, the founder and owner of Daisy First Aid…

Many people dream all their lives of starting a business – for Jenni, it was literally an accident.

“I was on a day off and went for a coffee with a friend, she had her daughter in a high chair, her daughter choked, and she didn’t know what to do,” Jenni explained.

“Being a police officer, I already had first aid training, so I was able to pick her daughter up and give her back blows, remove the blockage really quickly and she made a full recovery.

“I went home to my husband that night and said ‘why don’t parents know this really basic stuff’.”

The genius idea of first aid classes aimed at giving medical attention to children was born – and now, having started with just £400, Daisy First Aid is on the brink of going global.

It has been quite a journey for Jenni, who left education at 16, moved out of her family home and worked three jobs just to make rent.

Living in Crystal Palace in southeast London at the time, she says she wasn’t surrounded by the best crowd and after losing a child and ultimately trying to take her own life, she decided to make a drastic change.

“I went through a really dark time in my life and sort of decided at that point after hitting rock bottom I either had to try again and be successful or completely change my life,” the 44-year-old said.

Jenni joined the Metropolitan Police.

How accident in cafe and £400 turned into a genius business idea that’s about to go global | UK News
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Jenni left education at 16 and worked three jobs to pay rent

“I wasn’t living in a particularly nice area or hanging around with particularly nice people, so I decided I was just going to completely cut ties with everyone,” she said.

Back in the days of her training, the police would cover the cost of accommodation and food for new recruits during their 18-week course, she explained.

“I basically had somewhere to completely restart my life. It completely changed my life. I loved it.”

Jenni eventually worked her way up to detective sergeant, met her husband in the force when he came to her rescue, and was one of the first officers on the scene during the 7/7 Bombings.

“I think probably that’s where I found my love for first aid initially,” she said. “I really loved that side of things”.

Jenni Dunman from Daisy First Aid
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Joining the police ‘completely changed’ her life

The emergency situation that sparked her idea

Several years later and now a mother-of-two, Jenni was finding it difficult to juggle work and her busy home life.

It was while she was pregnant with her third child in 2013 that she came up with her business idea, sparked by the incident in the cafe.

“They do all these amazing parenting classes but if your baby stops breathing, or they choke, or they have a seizure, why aren’t they taught this basic first aid?” she said.

Jenni started searching online at what big organisations were already offering, and found a gap in the market with classes directed solely at parents.

Jenni Dunman from Daisy First Aid
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Jenni started getting bookings during a career break from the police

One pavilion, two customers and a friendly favour

Initially, she started by setting up one first aid class in her local pavilion in Sutton and putting a post on Facebook inviting people and their babies to come along.

The two-hour class taught people about the signs of meningitis, how to deal with burns and seizures, and broken bones in a way that was “simple and easy to remember”.

Her initial start up costs came to £400, which was mostly spent on mannequins for the class.

“I had two bookings, which both paid £25, and I asked all my friends to join me to make it look busy, so they all came with their babies and we had a great class,” Jenni said.

After that, word spread quickly and she started getting more and more customers as her business organically grew.

“I took a career break from the police and I started getting bookings from London, Surrey, Kent… I realised I was actually onto something,” she said.

Jenni Dunman from Daisy First Aid
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‘I very much learnt along the way’

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Learning, learning, and more learning

As her company blossomed and she struggled to fill demand, Jenni started looking into how it should be structured.

From the beginning, she wanted a work-life balance that she hadn’t been offered in the police, and worked her hours around the school run and pick up.

Using Google and teaching herself, she came across the idea of franchising.

“I knew nothing about starting a business, I knew absolutely zero, so I very much learnt along the way. I learnt how to franchise and tried and tested the model,” she said.

“I took on two franchises, who were both female police officers who lived in other areas, and taught them how to grow their business and do what I was doing.

“It just sort of exploded beautifully and really quickly scaled into what it is now, which 115 franchises across the UK with plans for worldwide expansion.

“We have helped to save hundreds of thousands of babies’ lives.”

‘I get offers for investment – but I turn them down’

Daisy First Aid is now planning to launch in Dubai by the end of the year, with Jenni having aspirations to take it to Australia and Europe as well.

“What was supposed to be a little business for me, to help me get a little statutory maternity pay, has ended up being life-changing for me and my other franchisees,” she said.

Unlike many businesses, Jenni has never taken any investment, funding the initial set up herself and growing it ever since.

“I probably get offers of investment twice a month, but I have never taken investment, so I own 100% of the business. Some people think I’m crazy, but I’m just really happy,” she said.

“The model we have works so beautifully and we know we can replicate that anywhere.”

Jenni Dunman from Daisy First Aid
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Jenni takes five daily steps to keep her mindset positive

What about the challenges?

Jenni said the “biggest battle” she had overcome was her own mind, and it was something she still had to work on every day.

“I think that most of us are taught from our parents, our ancestors and beyond, to just survive life and stay safe… you know, go to school, get a job, get a pension, retire and then you die,” she said.

“I really think now that we can remove those blocks just to open up because we are meant for more.”

She explained how she has had to work for the last 20 years to get over the fear of failure but also the “fear of bragging and success”.

“By far, my biggest challenge is myself and my own self sabotage,” she added.

“There are so many fears that we all have that stop us from achieving more.”

Jenni’s advice

Jenni confessed that she was “massively obsessed” with learning, and advised others to research and teach themselves the skills they lack.

“All the information is out there online, whatever you need, you can find it out, but also don’t be afraid to ask other experts for help,” she said.

She recalled the first time she hired an accountant, and she asked him to explain everything to her like she was 10.

“Sometimes as entrepreneurs, people expect us to know everything, but we’re never going to know anything. We can be brave enough to ask other experts, though.

“There are so many people who will give up their spare time to help you, and there is so much information online, so it doesn’t have to be costly.”

She also takes these five daily steps to keep her mindset positive:

  • Practice gratitude – take time to remember and feel grateful for positive things in your life
  • Set out your goals – write them down and illustrate them
  • Be mindful of your words – stop moaning and don’t be negative. Changing the words you use out loud and in your head can have a positive impact
  • Create a wave of happiness – do one thing a day to make someone else happy – it will encourage them to do the same
  • Leave positive reviews and give compliments – if someone has done a good job, tell them about it.

Read original article here.

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