'What I wish I had known'

Lara Sheldrake
This Women's History Month we decided to interview some of our favourite women braving the world of entrepreneurship.

Judy Leung

What I wish I'd known

I WISH I’D KNOWN about SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) and how long it would take to raise investment. 2 out of 3 UK angel investors only invest in SEIS opportunities, but startups can only qualify for SEIS if they have not traded for more than 3 years.

My advice would be to read up on the scheme so you don’t ‘start the clock’ prematurely, and take into account that it may take over 12 months to raise in the current economic climate. The investment landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years, if I were to start over, I would focus on getting customers before pitching to investors.

About Judy

Hi 👋 I’m Judy - founder of Sweqlink, the sweat equity talent platform. We help pre-seed stage founders find work-for-equity talent while giving talent the opportunity to share in the future success of the companies they help to build.

We’re on a mission to democratise access to entrepreneurship and asset ownership particularly for underserved founders and talent. We do this by not only offering a platform for sweat equity opportunities but educating founders and talent on the role of sweat equity within a startup, and how to unlock its potential.


@Sweqlink on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook

Isabel Overton

What I wish I'd known

Turning an idea into a business takes much longer than expected - especially when you’re operating in a new field and/or carrying out work you’ve never done before. When I first took steps to launch my startup inu I had no concept of this and as a result accidentally set myself very unrealistic milestones. When it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to achieve each one in the time frame I’d imagined, it created unnecessary stress and disappointment.

What advice I’d give to help with this challenge

Don’t get ahead of yourself when it comes to planning your business milestones - especially in the early stages. If you’re doing something for the first time and have no concrete concept of how difficult it will be or how long it will take, avoid setting a hard deadline for completion wherever possible. Instead, commit yourself to a realistic set number of hours you will spend working on it each day, week or month, and then when it’s complete note how long it took to achieve. This should hopefully reduce any unnecessary guilt around missed deadlines and “lack of progress”.

About Isabel

Isabel Overton is the founder of inu, a restaurant discovery platform for Black diners and allies. Isabel created inu to make it easier for users to find inclusive restaurants that create welcoming environments for all their guests, after she experienced racism at a restaurant with her family. You can find out more or get in touch with Isabel via the following methods:

Website: www.inudining.com

Email: hello@inudining.com

Instagram: @inudining

Nicola Gunby

What I wish I'd known

The main thing I wish that I’d known is how important your network is, if I knew the I would have started building this up sooner! Your network really is your net-worth so start going to as many events as you can, making connections with people and shouting about yourself on platforms like LinkedIn to increase your network. This will make things a lot easier when you have a new launch, are looking for investment or a new partnership.

I also wish I’d known how important it is to take time for yourself when building a business, I burnt myself out many times with my first business but now I am more self-aware of when I am getting to that point. My advice is to do things regularly that aren’t work related to give yourself space!

Finally I’d say I wish I’d have known how hard it would be, but if I knew that I probably wouldn’t have started!

About Nicola

I am the Co-Founder and CMO of CLIQ, a social networking and community app based on bringing like-minded individuals together through communities and events. I am a second-time founder and my previous company was a booking platform and marketplace for freelance beauty professionals. I grew this business from an idea on a beach to an acquisition in 3 years and I am now on a mission to make a difference to the current social media landscape with CLIQ.

Nicola's Instagram

CLIQ Instagram



Charlie Rosier

What I wish I'd known

I probably already knew this, but I guess I wish I’d appreciated the phrase “time is money.”  Given you are always conscious of runway and costs, I have probably made too many decisions based on the cost rather than thinking about the impact of time.  As an example, it may be cheaper to do X yourself, but if it takes you 10X more time than if you simply outsourced it, then the cost may be higher in the end.  Your time has a value – especially if you have kids, or could be working on something else that had a tangible impact on the business (i.e. sales).  My advice would be to ask yourself – “what am I worth?” (if I was paid market rate) and then do a simple calculation.  It may also be worth bearing in mind things like opportunity cost, because the cost of you not doing something else, is also a real cost to a startup.

About Charlie

Charlie Rosier - Co-founder & CEO of Babbu -  an award-winning, AI-powered, learning platform for parents with kids under 5 (Techstars ’23).

Over the last decade Charlie has built multiple businesses from start-ups to globally recognised, award-winning brands. As a passionate and driven leader, she has built teams and raised investment across numerous markets including; London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.  Prior to Babbu, Charlie owned and managed Cuckooz Nest – a totally flexible, Pay-As-You-Go nursery with onsite workspace, designed to make childcare more affordable & accessible for working parents.  She has driven innovation within Early Years Education since becoming a mother herself (2017) and is a regular speaker and advocate for parents and gender equality – also sitting as a UN Delegate for the Commission on the Status of Women.

Babbu is the UK’s first platform to support the mental health & well-being of the whole family from conception.  On a mission to tackle the growing children’s mental health crisis  - they focus is on stopping problems before they get worse and stepping in early to help when they do.   Their work has been recognised with several awards including Top 50 Impact Companies in the UK, Best Learning Platform for Parents and most recently in the Ed-Tech 50 (placing number 5 most innovative start-ups in the UK).  Babbu is also a Techstars ’23 Alumna and is proudly supported by a number of notable investors and board advisors including Javed Khan OBE (previous Chief Executive of Barnardos) and Dr. Jon Goldin (Royal College of Psychiatrists | Great Ormond Street Hospital).


Khaleelah Jones

What I wish I'd known

I wish I'd known how important it was to have clear, repeatable processes and replicable templates as I started and grew my business. Once we created these, we had consistent deliverables to provide to clients, onboarding new team members was a breeze, we had differentiated sales offerings and clear frameworks for consistent internal practices. Creating project plans, deliverable templates and financial models is a game changer - don't wait, start today.

About Khaleelah

Khaleelah is a 2x exited founder and growth marketer. She started, scaled and sold her digital marketing agency, Careful Feet Digital, and was co-CEO of Ada’s List, Europe’s largest community for women in tech. Prior to her entrepreneurial endeavors, she led marketing departments for well-funded femtech and health tech startups in Europe and the United States. She now acts as a non-executive director for several SMEs and is a marketing mentor and teacher for Series A startups and founders. Khaleelah is in the final stages of publishing her first book, The Hustle Hoax: Why Workplace Equality is a Myth (and What Women Can Do About It).




A huge thank you to our contorbutors to this article. Please follow them and support their amazing work.

About the Author

Lara Sheldrake

Lara is a speaker, business consultant and the founder of Found & Flourish, an online network for women and non-binary people in business. Lara consults on the topics of community, business and entrepreneurship. She is on a mission to make business accessible and less lonely. Through the power of community and collaboration, Found & Flourish empowers women to upskill, connect and truly flourish.

Join Us!

Join the community for access to workbooks, guides and workshop replays + a supportive community of founders and freelancers.

Join the community