Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business


This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

21 June 2019

Help! How do I change careers when I don't know what I want to do?

If you're one of those people who have this question running around their heads right now, trust me, you're not alone! Having worked in the recruitment and career coaching space for over a decade, feeling stuck is a normal part of your career journey. So, here are four quick tips to help you get started.

Arit Brits pic

Hit the snooze button

Often, we do know what we want to do. We have just got used to telling ourselves that what we desire is not for us or we're not capable of achieving it or are not worth having it. Hit the snooze button on the imposter in your head and allow yourself a moment to dream.

Take yourself somewhere quiet, with a pen, piece of paper. Turn your phone off, no children, flatmates, partner or friends. In your quiet place, close your eyes, and ask yourself the question; "If I woke up tomorrow in a career, I enjoyed what would I be doing and how would I feel?" Allow yourself to live in the world you see. Take in everything from the people around you, the sounds, the colours, what you're wearing, doing and more importantly, how your world makes you feel.

After five minutes (or longer) open your eyes and without hesitation and ignoring any of the "what ifs" or "you don't haves..." that may invaded your mind, write what you saw.

Then ask other questions; am I working part-time or full-time, local or international, company/industry? Employed or self-employed, a large or small company, who am I working with? Who is my audience/customers? The more you dig, the more gold you'll find.

If you struggle with answering the question, ask yourself "what do I not want to be doing?" Make a list of the pros and cons of your past role(s) including whether you liked the office, the perks – the little things matter too. Knowing what you don't want is half the battle.

Visualisation is a powerful exercise to unlock your subconscious mind. It will allow you to see beyond where you are now and helps to build your internal motivation to take the necessary actions to achieve your desires.

Create a vision board

Now you have identified what you desire; it's time to select images that represent those desires and create a vision board (aka dream board). This fun and straightforward process is a powerful visual of what you're aiming to achieve.

You can use a cork board, Pinterest, or a sheet of A3 paper. It's up to you.

Essentially, what you want to do is fill it with images, scriptures, motivational quotes, that reflect what you saw in the visualisation exercise. For example, you might include the salary you want to earn, the city you wish to work in, the job title etc.

Some choose to formulate their vision into a statement written in first person narration speaking as if they are already living their dream career. That's fine too. Just place it somewhere you will see it daily to remind you of where you're headed and keep you focused. 

As Corrie Ten Boom says: 'always live according to your vision, not according to your eyes'.  In short, the things you see daily are temporary, keep focused on the end game.

Set SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time based. Saying for example, "I want to become an influencer on social media" is too broad. 

A SMART goal is more precise:

By 2nd May 2020, I will be a well-known social media influencer in Health & Fitness for women. I will achieve this through the creation of a YouTube channel where I will produce four videos each month, as well as publish one article per week on my website. I will acquire the services of a freelance social media expert to curate content for my Instagram and Twitter platforms and research four brand partnerships to increase my profile. This will reinforce my 10+ years of experience in the field and allow me to help more individuals develop healthier bodies and minds, which in turn makes me feel fulfilled.

Face the fear and do it anyway

One of the common reason people stay stuck in careers they don't like is because of fear – whether that's fear of the unknown, of failure, lack of opportunity, being able to cope financially. To quote Nelson Mandela, "the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who overcomes that fear." Diarise one action each day that challenges your fears. It could be as small as making that sales call or booking an appointment with your boss to discuss a promotion. The more you practice daily acts of courage, the less afraid of fear you will be.

Arit Eminue, a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, business and career coach

Arit is passionate about helping individuals to and take ownership of their careers through employment, entrepreneurship or a mixture of both. Arit designed Power Up! a free four week programme (the next one taking place in July) designed to help individuals to Power Up! and create a life and career that fulfills and excites them. The course mixes career coaching with accredited diploma units.

Connect with Arit on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn using the handle @AritEminue.


14 June 2019

From ‘hippy’ to ‘hip’ – how the wellness sector had a major re-brand

We all had that one shop in our hometown growing up that sold crystals and burnt incense. Back in Macclesfield, where I grew up, that place was Spivey’s Web. You know the type of place I mean: bedecked in wind chimes with plinky-plonky music playing and a bare-foot owner with long grey hair who smelled of dried lavender and disappointment.

For a very long time I relegated anything that pertained to the vaguely mystical realm of Spivey’s Web in a box marked ‘a bit weird’. Healing crystals, veganism, affirmations, self-help, and meditation – these were all words at which I’d cynically roll my eyes should they crop up in conversation. Fast forward to today however, and I’m actually the one bringing those words up in everyday chats, along with millions of other converts in our increasingly wellness-loving population. In fact, I started my own business after seeing an opportunity to help a growing number of wellness sector brands convey their message in a way that’s authentic, honest and holistic.

Wellness Branding Liz Ellery1

So what changed to put wellness back on the radar, and what can it teach you about the power of branding in your business?

My story

Let’s do a little rewind here. In 2016 I read a book by Jen Sincero that fundamentally changed the way I viewed my life. I realised that I didn’t have to do the exact same job for the next 20 – 30 years, I could do and be whatever I wanted to be. For me - this was HUGE and it completely reinvigorated the way I thought about my life opportunities!

Spurred on by this realisation I started reading more books, listening to more podcasts, and even attending events everywhere from London to Los Angeles within the wellness movement. I realised that this incredibly powerful community existed to help me be the best version of myself, and I was hooked. The old me thought that wellness was just about exercising, drinking more water and doing a bit of yoga, but I was so wrong. The new me wanted to be a part of this emerging industry and the opportunity it created to do business in a more responsible, positive way which was a far cry from the corporate world that I’d experienced previously.

Wellness Branding Liz Ellery Meditation

Social media and celebrity influencers

Since time began we’ve looked to people in the public eye as a source of fascination, inspiration and aspiration. Recently we’ve seen a huge increase in celebrities’ willingness to open up and talk about their vulnerabilities, what makes them happy, what makes them tick and how they’re keeping healthy - both internally and externally. Everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow (whose Goop wellness brand is now worth a whopping $250 million) and Fearne Cotton (who launched her Happy Place podcast in 2018) to Russell Brand, Dawn French and Gary Barlow have jumped on the wellness bandwagon by letting us in on their concerns or stresses, and on the reality of life behind the glitz and glamour. This is helping spearhead a sea-change wherein we’re all becoming a lot more open about our mental and physical health and the strategies we employ to help us feel our very best, whether that’s through yoga, nature walks, meditation, adopting a vegan diet or even just buying organic skincare!  

You can do this too by using your influence, your story and your actions to inspire and motivate others – whether that’s a potential customer or a personal connection. A year after I started my personal branding company, a close family member was struck by how happy I’d become after following my dreams. This motivated them to follow their own dreams, and switched career paths from a corporate job to following their passion for cooking and is now working as a private chef. Wellness is all about being the change you wish to see and setting a positive example by ‘walking the walk’.

Wellness Branding Liz Ellery social media

Of course, the impact of social media can’t be underestimated, and over the past twelve months in particular we’ve seen a huge shift in the types of content that we like to see. Whilst Instagram used to be all about curating an aspirational, picture-perfect existence, there’s a burgeoning trend for ‘authenticity’ that is being reflected in the type of content we post about our lives and the stories we choose to tell. Rather than the filtered, pouting pre-workout selfie we’re sharing the sweaty, puffed out post-workout face, warts and all!

What’s so fantastic about this from a branding perspective is that you can do it in your business too. If social media can take the wellness industry from the dark ages of hippies, wind-chimes and medicinal herbs to the global industry worth £3.5 trillion that it is today, just think of the potential there is for you to use your social channels to communicate your unique message to the world!

Millennials are leading the charge

Something else that’s boosted the wellness industry is the differentiation in mind-set evident amongst the Millennium generation. There’s a great scene in the film 21 Jump Street where Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play policemen going undercover as high school students that demonstrates this. Channing wants to be accepted by the cool kids so resorts to acting like he did back when he was popular in high school, but this ends up being poorly received because the school environment today is drastically different from that of fifteen years ago. Millennials are much more tuned in to personal and social responsibility and are more risk-averse than previous generations, as well as being less motivated by material possessions. A recent study by the University of London reported an increase in the numbers of 16 – 25 year olds who avoid alcohol for example, whilst an Eventbrite survey showed that only one in ten people now regard being drunk as ‘cool’. These trends feed into the growth of the wellness industry and demonstrate the growing importance of making physically and emotionally healthy choices amongst the younger generation – who are your future customers. It’s also something to be aware of in terms of future-proofing your own business and ensuring that your branding and messaging is going to appeal with a customer base with a growing social and personal conscience. You need to be ready to respond to a potential client base who expect to see their values reflected in the products and services they engage with.

What does wellness mean for you?

Wellness is an entirely holistic concept. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal… not merely the absence of disease’ it is a term encompassing so much more than simply exercising and eating well, but extending into positive mental and emotional health and focussing on long term positive changes and sustainability rather than short term goals (for example healthy, balanced eating rather than weight loss and diets). It’s evolution from niche lifestyle concept to an important global commodity that now accounts for more than 5% of worldwide economic output shows the transformation that’s possible when your business benefits from the right advocates (whether that’s influencers, celebrities or just your happy customers), has a strong and authentic brand and aligns with current cultural consciousness and the prevailing social climate. The growth of the industry also demonstrates the importance of paying attention to trends when plotting your business growth. We’re all looking for real human connections and the notion that ‘people buy people’ is more important now that it ever has been, which is why it’s essential that there’s congruence between our business brand and who we are as individuals. That’s one lesson from the wellness sector that we can all benefit from.

Liz Ellery is a photographer, website designer and fashion industry insider who’s launched two successful businesses and now uses her skills to help entrepreneurs build the perfect personal brand online through her company Elizabeth Ellery.

10 June 2019

Food Season at the Business & IP Centre

With the British Library’s Food Season coming to a close, we take a look back at the past few months and the events the Business & IP Centre has celebrated with, including panel talks, inventors’ club, speed mentoring, workshops and one-to-ones for budding foodie entrepreneurs, or those who wanted to grow their existing business.

The UK’s food and drinks sector going from strength to strength. In 2017, consumer spending in the sector exceeded £219 billion with food and drinks exports worth more than £22 million to the economy. With almost 7,000 micro, small and medium businesses active in the sector last year, there’s no shortage of brands eager to take a bite out of the market.

Expert Impact’s Profit with Purpose: The Tastemakers II heard how Rubies in the Rubble (Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups alumni), LEMONAID, The Dusty Knuckle Bakery and Ben & Jerry’s became successful social enterprises. Here’s a little taster of the evening…

Our own Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Recipes for Success followed with the founders and co-founders of Eat Natural, Riverford and Pip & Nut, moderated by food journalist Victoria Stewart. Here are some highlights from the Q&A, with questions from audiences both in London and around our National Network, as well as those watching via our live webcast.

With work/life balance being a main motivator for a lot of entrepreneurs (whether or not that ends up being the reality), finding a happy medium between business and non-work time can be challenging. Pip Murray, founder of Pip & Nut still struggles, even with products in over 5,000 stores in four and a half years, “The first couple of years I was like a headless chicken. It’s inevitable it [the business] will take over everything. Since building the team, it’s given me headspace to enjoy my weekends. There’s only so much you can keep going at that pace and something needs to give. I’m very much involved in everything. There’s still an element that sucks you in, but you just need regular breaks.”

Guy Singh-Watson, founder of Riverford, decided to make the company employee owned and he became one of 650 co-owners. Guy said, “I strongly believe in giving people as much autonomy about how their day goes, what they’re doing and how they do it. Giving them the ability to grow and get better at it. The third motivator is purpose. In agriculture, the work is very very demanding, and I think fewer and fewer people are going to want to do it and we have to make sure we keep the best ones.”

The panel of founders also highlighted the need to not being afraid of trying things, not waiting for perfection and just going for it. Praveen encourages, “If you have an idea, just go for it. You don’t know what’s going to happen until you speak to consumers. If you believe in it, you have to give it a go. We love failing – it happens all the time.”

The panel finished with their most rewarding moments in business…

  • Riverford - the day we became employee owned 👥
  • Pip & Nut - seeing our products on the supermarket shelves for the first time 🥜
  • Eat Natural - getting the first crop of honey from our own beehives 🍯🐝

You can see all speakers’ videos and the Q&A on our YouTube channel, including questions on influencers, ethics, marketing and getting into supermarkets.