Louise Reed is the Co-Founder of Focus4Success, a non-profit based in Brighouse and part of the Town Hall Group.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
Several years ago, along with some friends in the community, I started Focus4Hope, which is our charity helping the homeless across West Yorkshire. We did a lot of outreach, preparing food packages and essential supplies, but we always had to refer on to others when it was time to take the next step and help people get back to work. Having worked in education, I wanted to take those skills and apply them to the people we met at Focus4Hope, giving them the tools they needed to get back on their feet.
What is your business motto?
You have to treat everyone with kindness, care and compassion. Everybody we work with deserves to have self-worth, dedication from those helping them and hope for a better future and better fortunes ahead. If people don’t get that from us, we’re not doing our own.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Taking the first steps and starting your own business is hugely exciting. But you should be mindful that it takes a huge amount of your time. You’ve got to be organised, have good time management and most importantly look after yourself.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
For us, as we’re a non-profit, we don’t want to be seen to commercialise a sensitive issue. As with any business, cash flow is incredibly important, so a lot of our funds come from donations and grants. Having to keep on top of that makes up a lot of my work within the business, as we need to constantly be on the lookout for funding opportunities.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Having Focus4Success allows me to work every day on something I’m hugely passionate about, helping others better themselves and get a new start in life. I would never be able to do this if I was stuck behind a desk all day, and it’s hugely fulfilling to be able to do this as my job.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
As a start-up non-profit, I have a lot of responsibilities that I can’t just delegate away. Funding applications, outreach with the homeless, office management, all of it requires either some or all of my involvement. Having lots of roles is a necessary evil, but it feels like it can detract from the main mission of the company at times.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
While not necessarily what you’d call a business figure, I’ve always admired Keanu Reeves. He’s shown tremendous strength, compassion and kindness to others despite the numerous tragedies he’s suffered, including losing his partner and their child.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Every day is a joy when I walk through the door of our headquarters, it fills me with pride to be working with people who have one vision. I feel extremely blessed to be able to help people in need every day of my life now. Where do you see your business going in the next five years?: We want to continue the great work we do with local charities and create a sustainable foundation of services that takes people off the streets, or those living in isolation, and puts them back to work with the skills, experience and confidence they need. Issues like homelessness are ongoing and can’t be solved by one company alone, and we’re incredibly excited to see how we can collaborate with others. My five year goal is to open the Hope Centre which will be a centre for vulnerable families and individuals to support them in every aspect of their lives from counselling, rehabilitation, education and training, and they will be provided a loving home with the support available around the clock to give them a brighter future.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
I would love to live in a world where there was no hatred, racism or suffering. If I could bottle up love, compassion and kindness I would give it to the world and help create a peaceful world to live in.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t ever want or need to work anywhere else. Working at Focus4Success and Town Hall Foundation is like being in one big family and we care and support each other daily. Not only is the work incredibly fulfilling, but the people here are so kind and compassionate, I don’t think I’d find this kind of atmosphere anywhere else.