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Flashback to 2000: Catching up with Kerri Middleton

Mon, 25 February 2013

In 2000 Kerri Middleton won the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Scotland with her stationery gift business, K TWO Products.
​Still going strong, Kerri talks to us about how things have changed over the years. 
What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
I enjoyed the process and meeting the other entrants, the competition was good practice in the early days of the business for presenting your idea and justifying why you thought it had a future to a panel of experts. Nerve wracking, but a good discipline to get used to as you have to sell yourself and your business a lot once fully up and running!
Kerri Middleton (K TWO)
Kerri Middleton when she won her award
How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
I have learnt a lot (a lot of it the hard way). The business has grown to a team of 10 with a turnover of over £1m, and we now supply a lot of the major high street retailers with our gift stationery products. We have recently moved office so have much more space and it’s great to be working as part of a bigger team with a lot of talent around me, rather than in the spare room!

How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
Be very determined to survive and thrive no matter what obstacles are in the way. There is always an answer or a way forward, you just sometimes have to try a lateral approach or 10! I have had to learn the importance of having a clear vision and communicating it well to enthuse the people around me and ensure we are all driving in the same direction. I have also learnt that you should never give up, just keep getting up, brush yourself off (not easy!) and try it a different way till you succeed. Good mentors around you are a life saver when you are running a business yourself, people who believe in you and have the same vision as you and whose talents fill the gaps you can’t makes for a strong team!
Kerri Middleton now
Kerri Middleton with her range of K TWO Products

What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
Here’s a few: Getting the big retailers to meet us and then to stock our products. Having too much money tied up in stock that I can’t sell (slows down your business development A LOT). If someone leaves the business it won’t grind to a halt (the business is bigger than any one individual, just get out and find another talented person to come on board), finding a work life balance once I had children!!

What are your top 3 tips for a young entrepreneur about to set up in business?
 1. Never give up - You have to REALLY want to succeed and be passionate about your idea to have a chance.

2. Test the market - Do your homework and be 100% convinced yourself that there is a market for your idea/product/service before you try and convince others to buy it!

3. Surround yourself with positive supportive people who are talented at what they do and believe in you, don’t be shy to ASK for help and advice from people who have been there and done it, it can be hugely influencing and beneficial, one bit of advice that’s spot on can save you making a year’s worth of mistakes! ….and if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Kerri Middleton Scan
Kerri Middleton in The Herald

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