What inspired you to start a business?
My Dad’s success has inspired my entrepreneurial journey; having grown up and seen him work countless hours even on Christmas Day made me want to also build a business from scratch to be able to provide for my family and make him proud. When I was nine years old I planned my life, I was going to be an air hostess, a lawyer and a surgeon, whilst taking over the family business. I later learned that you didn’t need to work for an airline to see the world, nor did I need a degree to argue well and I was so afraid of blood and hated hospitals, therefore I was forced to make some changes as far as my career goals were concerned. Making money was something I always enjoyed doing, I used to sell sweets to the neighbours, clothes to hairdressers and I loved saving. The key was always to make my own money but still spend my dad’s.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge is that I can often feel isolated when there are numerous problems that need solving simultaneously. Running a business means that there are always issues that need to be resolved, for example today I woke up and the coffee machine wouldn’t turn on so we had to turn customers away and after dealing with this I then had to play peacemaker as members of staff were not seeing eye to eye. Being your own boss means that you are constantly problem solving, especially in the beginning nothing is smooth sailing. The greatest reward is when you can see signs that your hard work has paid off, customers are happy and you can congratulate your staff for a great service.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures
When setting goals, ensure that you make note of the steps that you need to take in order to achieve them so that you have a clear path. Failures are inevitable; it is those that are able to overcome them that will get a taste of success. I read a quote that I think speaks to this: “The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” ~ Barbara Corcoran
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
I think the biggest challenge is dealing with the emotional rollercoaster, when you are so passionate about something it can be hard when you want everything to be absolutely perfect and you keep having to overcome obstacles such as slow carpenters, unreliable tradesmen and inefficient financial service providers. Not being able to be in several places at once, one has to rely on others and often I wish I could do more things myself but “no man is an island”. Balancing the spend means that I have worked with individuals to renovate the property rather than employ the services of an established firm, which lead to much on going frustration.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I am not sure I have been mentored or coached formally but I have benefited a lot from my dad’s guidance and impeccable example, as he is the hardest working person I know. From childhood my opinion has always counted, I would always be invited to attend management meetings to participate and my dad and I would have our private board meetings to discuss business or personal matters. I was always made aware of what was happening in the businesses and this gave me the confidence to follow my own entrepreneurial pursuits.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
I believe wherever you are in the world who you know is important, the fact is knowing people in the right places makes life easier. Unfortunately in the UK I have found building a network more difficult than in Jamaica, especially because it takes time, which I don’t have at the moment since I am always at Three Little Birds in Brixton.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
Timing is everything i.e. expanding too soon could be costly but also it is important to strike while the iron is hot. I plan to get all the systems in place and ensure a smooth operation in Brixton before expanding my business to other locations. Whilst I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I am always looking to the future but I need to learn a lot more, from my own experiences and others, before expanding.
How have you benefited from The Apprentice?
More people care about me and my business venture since the show and therefore it has been a good promotional tool but I haven’t benefitted as much as I thought I would. I was hoping to learn from participating in business tasks that were different from my day-to-day work and therefore become a better businesswoman as a result of my time on the show.
What does the future hold for you?
I plan to expand Three Little Birds across the UK and beyond, hopefully publish my memoir, cookbook and enter the world of broadcasting. After I’ve started to make headway in taking over the world I would like to return to Jamaica to start a family.
About April Jackson
Raised by an entrepreneurial father and self-made man with interests in shipping, remittances and property, who built his business with a strong work ethic and tenacity, 26 year old entrepreneur April Jackson was a champion of Jamaica long before she was crowned a beauty queen and Miss Jamaica Universe in 2008.
As a child she witnessed the grit and resilience required to build a multi million pound business, watching her father bounce back from hard knocks and an expensive divorce, to eventually see his determination pay dividends with a successful shipping and money transfer business.
April’s founding therefore of what is set to become Brixton’s most desirable eaterie & boutique, Three Little Birds named in a nod to the famed Bob Marley & The Wailers hit, is not unexpected. Boasting delectable Jamaican cuisine small-plates style, cocktails and an array of the island’s condiments, coffee and clothing, the launch on 28th October is the realisation of a business dream for April.
Having been educated in Jamaica until the age of 16, April completed her A-levels in the UK before a stint as an au-pair in France preceded her Miss Jamaica Universe win. Studies at New York City’s prestigious Columbia University followed, before April returned to England permanently in 2014. Inspired by her travels, April founded the Savour Jamaica Supper Club – a series of exclusive dining events exposing discerning diners to unique gastronomic experiences by featuring talented international chefs across the island. Celebrated London chef Scott Hallsworth Founder of Kurobuta, was the first – ironic that having taken London’s gastronomic experience to Jamaica she is now bringing Jamaica to London.
Taken under the wing of former Head chef of Nobu Lloyd Roberts, the acclaimed chef’s distinctive mark can be seen in Three Little Bird’s kitchen layout, while the menu is the fruit of April’s own creativity and experience, boasting Banana cake with salted caramel and rum frosting, and Yam Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragu. The bespoke cocktail menu is overseen by former bar manager of Aqua at The Shard’s Vital Petiot, and includes an Aloe Vera daiquiri and run punch garnished with ginger, cinnamon and rosemary.
Founder of foodie blog TheYummytruth.com in which April shares her food adventures and Jamaican inspired recipes, at just 26 April is the foodie entrepreneur to watch – and determined to make Jamaican food a firm fixture on the UK palate.
Be sure to visit Three Little Birds here and follow April on Twitter using the handles @AprilJJackson @3LittleBirdsJA.