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Small business spotlight: Five minutes with…


Cherry Newlands, Owner,
Park Hill Guest House, 17 Ardconnel Street, Inverness, IV2 3EU

My business card says:

Park Hill, a three-storey guesthouse; close to the city centre; with lounge and en-suite bedrooms.

I would describe my business self as:

Hardworking, honest, fair and committed.

I decided I wanted to run my own business when:

Back in 1990, I had two young children aged 7 and 9 and one of them was always sick. If I had been working full-time for an employer, I’d probably have been sacked for taking too much time off to look after them when they were ill. So, I thought, the best thing to do was to be my own boss. I found a guesthouse business five minutes’ walk from their school. I’d worked in the industry when I was younger, I was good at it and I liked it.

The hardest part of setting up the business was:

I didn’t find it hard at all. I didn’t need a loan, fortunately, but I did have a mortgage rate of 14% which is high compared with rates today.

The biggest challenge for my business has been:

Trying to get reliable staff. People will often just not show up for work, no phone call, no reason and think that is acceptable. Sadly, that’s often been my experience.

My biggest business regret is:

Buying a small hotel on the outskirts of Inverness 16 years ago. I was quite happy with the guesthouse but I was convinced to sell it and take on a hotel instead. It had three bars, a dancehall and extensive grounds. But I couldn’t get chefs, cooks, bar staff. The location had no passing trade either. I stuck it out for four years before selling it and buying Park Hill Guest House which I’ve been running for 12 years now.

My greatest business success is:

Turning Park Hill Guest House into a successful business and being in business for the last 25 years.

The key to being a successful small business owner is:

Having a clear vision and a strong work ethic.

My top tip for entrepreneurs is:

Fulfil your dreams. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – just make sure you have your finances in place first.

My top money-saving tip is:

Shop around. I’ve renegotiated with all my providers and have reduced prices on my Sky, broadband and telephone bills this year. And I’m in the process of negotiating my water tariff. Even just sorting out my car and home insurance recently has saved me £300 a year. Some might say it’s not much but it’s my money – why should they have it?

The one thing I would do differently with my business if I had my time again is:

With an eye to the future and getting older I would have bought a smaller guesthouse. With Park Hill I have to cook for and serve up to 16 people every morning, take bookings, maintain, manage and upgrade the guesthouse. It’s a lot for one person. So it is on the market and I’m looking for smaller premises with around five bedrooms – more manageable for one.

The business headline I would most like to see is:

Small business rates have been cut.

If I wasn’t answering these questions I would be:

Shampooing the carpets! I planned to take advantage of the good weather by leaving the doors and windows open so they’ll dry quickly.

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