This months book review is ‘We can all make it’ by Sara Davies. 

I saw Sara speak at the Entrepreneurs Conference last year. If I am honest, I didn’t really know a lot about her apart from being heavily into crafting and owning a crafting business, being on Strictly Come Dancing, and being a dragon on Dragons Den. So to me she wasn’t the speaker I was most looking to hear from at the event. How wrong was I! She was probably the best speaker of the whole event She gave an excellent talk, came across as a really genuine person and the talk had me engrossed from start to finish. 

When some months later I saw she had a book out, I had to buy it, and it did not disappoint. 

A Family of Entrepreneurs

Sara comes from a family of entrepreneurs and her mum and dad ran all sorts of businesses and Sara worked in many of them from an early age. She went to University to study business. At Uni she got involved with the ladies cricket club and ended up as president and ran it just like a business with a business plan and even pulled in sponsorship and used that money to bring in professional coaches. 

The Summer Job

She worked in a crafting business arranged via a friend of a friend, as a summer job and then 9 months later she went back in her placement year. However, in the intervening period, the business appeared to have rapidly expanded and on her first day back there were loads of new staff and assistants and office managers, new furniture, new cars and the biggest red flag of all…….a fountain in the forecourt!!!! 

Even at that age, she was suspicious and felt something was not right. She therefore started to familiarise herself with the accounting software and accounts for the business, and realised that there was a shortfall every month! It turned out that there was debt on credit cards and they were short every month for wages and had to borrow to cover them. So all was not rosy! 

Sara’s Plan

Sara came up with a plan to cut costs in half and double sales! This involved changes to the website, cashflow, making people redundant, attending shows, undertaking demonstrations and utilising shopping channels. She turned the business round and this was fully acknowledged by the owner. At the end of the placement period, discussions took place about what Sara would do next and amazingly the owner only offered her a job on minimum wage in the production team! Sara was flabbergasted! She declined the offer and went back to Uni for her final year. The name of the chapter in the book covering this is titled ‘You’ve got to be shitting me, pet!’ 

The Budding Entrepreneur

When Sara was working with the company and demonstrating the car making products, customers kept asking if there was an envelope to go with it, in other words, an envelope making machine. 

So once she went back to Uni, she thought lets design something to do the job. Her and her dad set about designing something and after lots of iterations, they had a product. Her dad told her to get a patent, which she did and was one of the best decisions she made. 

Tales from the Book

There are some great stories in the book and two more in particular. However, I don’t want to give them away here so I will just provide the outline as they are really worth reading. 

On the back of all of this she built this great business, Crafter’s Companion, which now operates all over the world. 

One story relates to live shopping channels and an apparent order for 8,000 units, a family friend supplier owed money and the ups and downs of appearing live on TV. 

Shopping channels have featured heavily in her promotions and expansion and she been all over the world presenting, especially the US. She planned her US growth very carefully and slowly and went out there many times to fine tune her plans. 

The other major story relates to a dispute that could have ended the business. It was with a large global company that ripped off her design and then effectively said sue us if you dare! Another great story of commitment and perseverance! 

Strictly and Beyond

Her passage to Strictly Come Dancing was actually via Dragons Den! She was sat one evening with her PR advisor watching Strictly and said that she really wanted to go on the show. Her PR advisor said ‘I’m not being funny, pet, but you need to be a bit more A-list than going on shopping telly……before you get invited on Strictly’ 

The PR person suggested they try and get Sara on Dragons Den which would raise her profile and of course she was already totally qualified to be sat in one of the dragon chairs anyway. Deborah Meaden had done both. Clearly it worked because Sara went on Dragons Den and is still on there today, and she also went on Strictly too. 

Stories follow on being a Dragon, being on strictly and surviving COVID 

A really engaging book and very easy to read. Definitely recommended