Tell us about you:

Hello, I’m Shona Chambers, I am the owner of a Venue for hire in South East London, & also do Marketing Consultancy again after quite a long break post kids/career changes. I am the Mum of 2 lovely kids, a boy & a girl! When I’m not working (haha) I enjoy keeping up with the ever-changing foodie landscape in London & popular culture (i.e I have a Netflix account and license to binge).

Tell us about your business baby:

I’m a bit unusual in my small business story in that my current business only exists because my first business failed. The very short version of this is in 2012 I sold my family home to finance a cafe deli the site of which needed complete modernisation. It was my dream to run a family-friendly venue which catered for children & families in a lovely setting. We had a lot of loyal customers but very sadly the business wasn’t viable. We also had various disasters like a flood which closed us down for nearly 6 months and in the end, the decision had to be made to close it for all of our sanities.

However a good friend of mine made a comment once in the cafe about the fact it was such a nice venue and that any other sort of business may also do well, so I gave it some thought and in August 2016 I closed one business and opened Space at 61 instead. It has been a trial by fire to build a business from the ashes whilst still supporting all of the outgoings for the building whilst finances built up again.

Space at 61 we market as being an AirBnB for business use. You can book us by the hour, half day or day. We are unusual in the sense that there aren’t many spaces readily available in this way, most offering space hire are already a daily business with rooms or a more formal long-term affair with contracts, whereas you can just get in touch with us the night before and if we have the space available you can book it.

What’s your WHY?

I believe in small business, 100%. Having worked in large corporate Marketing teams for 10 years prior to opening my cafe, I know what it is to feel bogged down by structure, and flattened by protocol. I love being my own boss for good or for bad, and I will always encourage other people to take the step and make their own destinies.

What do you find the hardest bit of doing the juggle?

I often struggle to be present at the right time mentally. I find that a challenge sometimes. When you have children you know only too well how quickly they grow and change and you want to be in the moment, but knowing you have a million other things in the background can really put a strain on the mental capacities.

Who’s your support network?

Well, its funny you should ask because I actually have a Networking group of my own, First Fridays because we meet on the First Friday of every month. I started it up in January of this year along with another local business person Sharon Gardner of Core of Life, with the aim of fostering community among the Self-employed/ freelance/small business people locally & we had 30 business people show up at the very first one, and it has been a rolling success ever since. There are around 50% new people/50% regulars at each meeting which is really nice because it’s not cliche but it is welcoming.  Each month we have a new speaker on a relevant topic, often its someone from the group, next month (September 7th) we have Shannon Reed the owner of Mockingbird Makes doing a talk on Creativity which will be amazing. The women crochet’s Unicorns! We can’t wait for her talk. There is coffee & food & we just all get a chance to mingle and talk and share the load for 3 hours. So that’s my support network.

If only I knew then what I know now…

I’d counsel any new business to think about the minimum they need to operate with when they start up. My situation worked out but I often think I’d like to have started smaller and worked to build myself up rather than going in feet first. Life and learn!

 

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