Website: Quattrain


Natasha Maw is a Media and Leadership Trainer and Executive Coach with a background in broadcast journalism. She started as a Local Radio Radio Reporter, ran an independent commercial radio station, and at the BBC worked as a Producer, Trainer, Executive Coach and Mediator. Latterly, she co-developed the BBC Creative Leadership Course which was rolled out across BBC radio and television, to help leaders work with rapid change and instil new working practices. Recently, she has set up the Quattrain Partnership and runs mentoring, development and leadership programmes for the commercial and public sector.


What does your business do?  

We are a training and development consultancy who run leadership, media and communications training.  Our background is as BBC management, journalists and programme makers and we bring our media skills into an organisational context.  We also run coaching and mentoring programmes.


Do you think it is difficult to start a business in London?

No, I think London is one of the best places to start a business.  I have friends with businesses in other parts of the world and they are hampered by red tape and bureaucracy.  However, I do think it has been hard for small businesses here to get bank loans, but that may be changing.


How long did it take for your business to become profitable?

We have only been running for just over a year and we have made a small profit already.  This year has been about building up networks and putting work proposals together.


What were the main challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?  

The challenges are not behind us! We are in the process of building up longer-term sustainable business rather than short-term and one-off contracts.  Also we are learning how to work with each other, and to play to our respective strengths and give honest feedback.  Another challenge is the work life balance when starting a new business, but that seems to be a constant.


How did you get funding to start your business? Do you have any suggestions for someone looking for funding right now?  

We all put in some money into the business and we have all done a lot of hours for no pay.  We have also worked from our respective homes, but that may not last.  In terms of getting funding, I know people who have got great ventures off the ground through crowd-funding whether making films or starting catering companies.


What are you top 3 tips for someone who want to start their own business today?

  1. Think very carefully about who you want to go into business with.  Do you have complementary skills/personalities?  All may be fine when things are going well, but what happens when disaster strikes which inevitably it will?  Also think of how you will communicate together and get that established from the start.
  2. Establish what your brand is.  Can you sum up what you do in one sentence and what differentiates you from everyone else?  Once you’ve decided that, get out there in the real and virtual world and network like crazy.
  3. Find yourself a good mentor and don’t be afraid to approach someone and ask if they would mentor you.  People are generally flattered to be asked and the worst that can happen is that they will say no.  Mentoring is an incredibly useful way to try out new ideas, evaluate your business strategy, expand your network and develop your skills of self-awareness and critical thinking.