Business is booming.

Reality star Montana Brown to mentor budding entrepreneurs

After being thrown out of the Love Island villa in 2017 and narrowly missing out on a place in the final four couples, Montana Brown was determined to start her own business.

Unlike many of her peers on the ITV reality show, she didn’t want to use her newfound fame to put her face on someone else’s brand.

She wanted to create something for herself.

But as Brown – who has since been hired by Virgin Start Up as a business mentor – quickly realized, starting your own business isn’t easy.

Montana Brown has now been hired as a business mentor by Virgin Start Up

Montana Brown has now been hired as a business mentor by Virgin Start Up

On top of all the usual challenges, 27 percent of would-be entrepreneurs are deterred from pursuing their business dreams due to the cost of living crisis, data from Virgin Start Up shows.

Another 35 percent said they didn’t have the money, while self-confidence is a particularly big problem for women, deterring 27 percent of potential female founders, compared to 18 percent of their male counterparts.

But as the UK tails off into a recession, the government will increasingly depend on Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit and small business army to propel the economy through a tough few years.

While it may sound surprising, an economic downturn can be a great time to start a business. Higher unemployment means workers are often easier to find, while new opportunities can present themselves as behavioral changes. General Motors, Burger King, Uber and Airbnb have all launched during a slump.

Likewise, Brown started her business shortly before Covid hit.

The idea for Swim Society came about when Brown, now 26, was on vacation with friends in the Maldives.

After recently being thrown into the social media spotlight and experiencing the trolling and abuse that comes with it, Brown had a body image crisis.

She and her friends complained about the fit and quality of their swimsuits – and in 2019 she decided to do something about it.

Initially, Swim Society started collaborating with fashion brand Skinnydip to create its own line. Most of the company’s complexities were taken care of by Skinnydip, and Brown worked about two days a week to help with the design and direction of the swimwear range.

Virgin Startup selects startups in need of money and advice, provides loans from government-backed company Start Up Loans and mentors founders

Virgin Startup selects startups in need of money and advice, provides loans from government-backed company Start Up Loans and mentors founders

Virgin Startup selects startups in need of money and advice, provides loans from government-backed company Start Up Loans and mentors founders

But she was adamant that she wanted her swimwear and bikinis to be made ethically, from recycled materials. It was here that she ran into Skinnydip, whose staff were concerned about the additional costs and complications this would entail.

So in 2020, less than a year after starting the company, Brown decided to go it alone.

“It was definitely a really scary time for me,” she says. “I had no business experience, and I had never really had a full-time job.

“So it was a discouraging time — and then Covid happened.”

So what prompted her? ‘I think it was largely naivete’, she laughs. ‘I thought, ‘Yeah, I can totally do this, it’s going to be okay.’

‘I’m quite a spiritual person, so I just thought what will be. I was so passionate about representing people who were underrepresented that I didn’t really think about running the company.”

It was a struggle for a while. But Brown managed to build a network of helpful contacts and had two employees with him from the start who proved to be invaluable.

Many other aspiring entrepreneurs also suffer from the feeling of not knowing where to start – and that’s where mentoring comes in handy.

Brown has partnered with Virgin Start Up to advise other founders – and her role as an influencer means she’s inundated with knowledge on social media.

Virgin Start Up is part of Richard Branson’s group of companies and is partially funded by the billionaire himself. It is a non-profit organization that seeks to build the next generation of British entrepreneurs.

It selects emerging companies in need of money and advice, provides loans from the government-backed company Start Up Loans, and provides mentoring and lessons to their founders.

Aside from social media, Brown will also advise budding entrepreneurs on how to raise funding after successfully raising investors during the pandemic.

She says, “I think there are so many ways to get investment now that some people aren’t focusing on the numbers anymore and are focusing more on a partnership where it’s more of a collaboration.”

The government – ​​as well as venture capital firms and later stage investors – still has a lot to do if it wants to help British companies grow from minnows to giants.

But with the likes of Brown championing entrepreneurship, the UK small business scene looks as vibrant as ever.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we can earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and use it for free. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

.