Case Study

Lady Penelope

2 Aug 2016

Sarah Miller

The making of an entrepreneur

I’m not an obvious success story: growing up in a family where education was not encouraged, I left school without any qualifications to work at various shops, nightclub bars and supermarkets. Despite having minimal exposure to technology and business, the idea to launch Lady Penelope taxis came instinctively. As a single mother of five, I have always had a niggle at the back my mind when my family take cabs meaning I felt my children were less vulnerable with a female driver.

How did it begin?

My first hurdle was financing. Despite purporting to offer loans to new business owners, with no credit history my application was rejected by the bank and so raising capital to buy my first car took time. When customers started ringing in, I created a rudimentary system on Excel noting the booking date, my customer’s name and address. When it came to payment, I felt unprofessional taking cash from customers and was quick to buy into Worldpay technology that allows for a quick and easy card payment. This move towards easy card payments came at a time when I was battling the challenge from other competitive cabbies and now Uber too. Fast online payment is an essential part of modern life, making customer journeys swifter and simpler and I am keen to improve my booking and payment system but am drawing a blank. I just don’t know where to start, despite now owning 3 cars and having a thriving business with regular customers. 

Adapt, not disappear

Last month, I heard Tim Campbell, iStreet’s Ambassador, talking at length about how technology has revolutionised the way small business owners run things. His talk reminded me I am behind with the times and so I jumped at the chance to be an iStreet business ambassador as I want to adapt, not disappear!

Tapping into a events market with innovative technology

It’s a decade since I found Lady Penelope and I’ve now seen an opportunity to expand my business portfolio by moving into the £10 billion wedding industry.  
I have acquired a large range of table decorations, wedding centre pieces and furniture from auctions - all in storage and ready for hire by my future clients. I’ve also returned to school, which was daunting after 50 years and I am now an accomplished flower arranger and cake decorator. 

Laying the techy ground work

With this business, I need the right tools at my disposal so I don’t waste time or money being inefficient and I make better decisions and grow more quickly. 

It’s exciting to be selected as a business ambassador and I want to use this opportunity to make the company more efficient, rather than just keepings things it ticking over as I have been. Which social media tools will be most helpful in raising the profile of the company? What is email-marketing? How do I raise my ranking on search engines? How can I improve my website? 

Beyond promoting Lady Penelope, my business is crying out for an easy and reliable way of taking bookings, issuing invoices, submitting expenses and managing cash flow. Weddings are stressful at the best of times, so it’s important that everything I do presents an image of professionalism. For me the iStreet programme is about learning how technology can help me present that professional, trustworthy and reliable image that customers expect. 

Follow Sarah’s iStreet journey this summer, as she’s put into practice all the tips and products Worldpay and partners will be offering her.

For inspiration on how to grow your business, hear what High Street to iStreet business ambassador Tim Campbell and Worldpay UK MD Dave Hobday have to say.

2 Aug 2016