CEO Sadie Chowen on what it takes to run a successful business

Sadie Chowen, who runs The Burren Perfumery with her team in County Clare, won Creative Businesswoman of the Year at last year's IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards. As nominations continue to come in for this year's awards ceremony, we caught up with Sadie to find out what it takes to succeed.

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The Burren Perfumery is a small company based in the west of Ireland. They make cosmetics and perfumes inspired by the landscape around them. Everything is made on site, by hand, and in small batches with care; and while their on-site shop and tearooms are open for business, Sadie also offers an online shopping service to customers around the world.

Creativity is a huge part of her business. "I’m in Grasse (France) as we speak", Sadie tells us. "I'm working on two new perfumes, using all my favourite raw ingredients and giving myself time to go back to my favourite part of my job; creating perfumes. It’s a project that has been on the back burner for a few years as we re-designed our skincare range, but now it’s time the perfume side of the business got some love."

Sadie Chowen with her family in County Clare

With that in mind, we asked her to name five things every woman should know before venturing into the creative business industry. Sadie said:

1. "It’s work. For every hour you spend being ‘creative’ you will spend 100 hours sourcing materials, paying suppliers, writing documents, answering emails, scheduling staff. This is the essential foundation work that must be done in any business."

2. "Be clear and focus. You will get less done than you imagine and it will take you longer. So concentrate on only doing the things that really matter."

3. "Think. For yourself. Ask questions, and question assumptions."

4. "Be prepared to be fluid. You won’t have all the answers or get it right all the time, but you will learn as you gain experience. Be prepared to change course or cancel projects if it makes sense."

5. "Don’t work too hard! A business will consume all your time if you let it. Don’t let it. Guard your personal time, it’s the source of your energy and creativity.

As for the characteristics needed to be a successful business owner, Sadie says a person must have tenacity, good work ethic, clarity, focus, and practicality. "There is an old adage about success being the meeting of opportunity and preparation. Creativity alone will not bring anything new into existence," Sadie says. "You have to be able to put the work in to make it happen, as well as having a vision."

Remember to switch off

Following on from point five above, Sadie says it's imperative to enjoy your free time. "A business is like a child and you want to give it everything, but like with children, you have to keep something back for yourself.

"I go for a 40 minute run with my dog in the mornings which helps to keep me sane and better able to make good decisions," Sadie tells us. "If you’re doing the tasks that really matter, you can get a lot done in a few hours. Do the most important thing in your day first, and remember to step back occasionally to look at the bigger picture."

Awarding those who have what it takes

Nominations for the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2018 are now live. Will you nominate yourself, a friend or a colleague for one of the highly coveted titles? Simply fill in the nomination form before 5 pm on Friday, 12th October 2018 to be in with a chance to win.

On the evening of Monday 19th November, we will gather with Ireland’s most inspiring businesswomen for a luxurious gala dinner, during which we will recognise and celebrate their successes. We will reveal the winners in nine categories, plus the winner of the Lifetime Achievement award and the overall IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2018.

With only a limited time left to nominate, you'll need to act fast. Good luck.

Photos via the Burren Perfumery

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