Lucy Abraham – The Collective Agency 

After years working within the interior design industry, Start Up Loan recipient Lucy Abraham decided to venture out on her own and launch ‘The Collective Agency’, a London-based interior design and distribution agency with clients across the automotive, corporate, hospitality, healthcare, education and marine sectors. In September 2015, Lucy turned to Outset Finance for support in applying for a Start Up Loan and give her the freedom and flexibility she needed to move her business forward.

Check out our interview with Lucy to find out more about her experience of starting a business and applying for a Start Up Loan with Outset Finance.

Owner: Lucy Abraham
Business name: The Collective Agency
Based in: Sevenoaks, Kent

1. What made you decide to become your own boss?

For all the standard reasons you might expect: having greater flexibility and freedom, higher earning potential and most of all, for the challenge. I wanted to push myself and see what I’m capable of. I have learned more in this process than I have in my entire working career and am doing things I never thought I would have the skills or knowledge to do. The learning curve is far from over.

2. What were the main challenges you faced in starting or growing your business?

The challenges are, and I expect will be, forever changing but the biggest one in the beginning was having the confidence in my business and myself. The second biggest challenge has been accepting that I am going to get some things wrong and that doing so is inevitable and an important part of the process. As long as I am learning and improving it is all okay.

3. Where would you be without your Start Up Loan?

I would have still gone forward with my business but growth would have been slower and because cash flow would have been very tight, the experience much more stressful. It would also have meant more personal financial stress, which I do believe can affect how you come across in business. If you have money in the bank and have the mental stamp of approval that comes with gaining capital investment from a company, your confidence and self- belief shines through for customers and associates to see.

4. How was your experience working with Outset Finance?

I would absolutely recommend Outset Finance to other business owners – in fact, I have! Their process is detailed and well thought out, they are supportive but also very realistic and can be an invaluable voice of reason.

5. How important is post-loan mentoring to you?

Having someone external to the business to talk through issues with and bounce ideas off is so important. The people close to you can have a tendency to see your business through rose tinted glasses, which is kind and supportive but can also be detrimental.

6. What is your vision for the future?

I hope to grow my portfolio of products and work with new designers by representing their work and seeing their products become successful. I would also love to create a product of my own to include in our product offering.

7. What advice would you give to people thinking about starting their own business?

I am no expert and still have a lot to learn, and a long journey ahead of me, but for anyone who is thinking of starting a business I would say you must believe in your business and, most importantly, in yourself. Visualise your success (whatever that is to you) and know that’s where you are heading. Ask for help when you need it, seek advice from people who have been there and done it, and don’t forget why you made the decision to go solo.

To find out more about The Collective Agency visit their website.

the collective _ agency