The 2018 British Small Business Awards (BSBAs), held at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel on October 31st, will bring together the brightest stars of the small business economy with the vendors, advisers and financiers that help them start, run, grow and succeed.
In this section, we’ll look at the winners from the 2017 Awards and learn about how they’ve got on since their win.
Liz Wilson, founder of Ma Baker and winner of the Sole Trader of the Year category in 2017, discusses how her business has grown over the last year.
What is Ma Baker and how did you start it?
Ma Baker is a micro bakery in the heart of Fulham. I bake, sell and deliver breads to the good people of SW6. I also run a range of bread courses that are listed in TripAdvisor’s top three classes to do in London.
Five years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I took a bread class and absolutely fell in love with the stuff. I volunteered in bakeries, washed up in cooking schools, talked endlessly to bakers and I baked and baked, and I read and I took more classes and I baked some more. I gave away my loaves to neighbours and friends, until they said ‘Liz, stop giving it away, we will pay for it’. And they did. And then more people did.
I went part time with my primary school job. And I baked some more. I started teaching bread and there is nothing like sharing something you are absolutely passionate about with others. At the end of 2014, I started my full-time bread adventure, and it has been the most surprising time of my life.
All of my breads are made with organic ingredients which are ethically sourced where possible. The breads contain no preservatives or additives, in accordance with the Real Bread Campaign guidelines.
The success of my business has been down to loving what I do, staying true to my values, the offering of a quality product and the combination of excellent customer service, a creative marketing strategy, a strong vision and a very good accountant.
How has the business been since the award win?
I’m absolutely flat out, which is good! Classes are booked up till Christmas which is a bit mad and I’ve never been busier. I’ve now taken on my son to help out one day a week. He’s made a big difference and his help has freed me up to get my systems more up to date to make things run more smoothly. I now teach baking classes three or four days a week.
Winning the Sole Trader of the Year award was amazing; I got so much positive feedback and encouragement. I’ve since learnt that you can work from home, as I do, and still be respected as a legitimate business. [It shows people] that you’re serious about it and about growing it.
My following on social media has jumped with a lot of other small businesses following me. People perceive me as someone who knows what they’re doing. I’ve had a lot of people come to me for advice on the business side of things!
What are your plans for the business now?
Now my son helps me out I can do more and take the business further. With another pair or hands I now have the ability to look at different products, namely our longer shelf life products. I’m staying as a sole trader though, for me there’s no advantage going past the VAT threshold; the format works well for me so I’m sticking with it!