Grandma’s advice: how to create businesses out of doing what you love for over 50 years

For those of you that didn’t catch my post last week, I went to visit my grandma – an 88 year old creative entrepreneur that has been creating successful businesses for over half a century. And she’s still going and growing. Her latest move is to start turning her paintings into prints (you can check out her website and a documentary about her here).

I went to interview her to find out what we could learn from her. From launching a knitted dresses and suits company as a mother in the 50s, to serving royalty with her catering company in the 60s, to running a B&B from her home and now 40 years of selling her paintings (and still going), she has a lot she can teach us.

Watch us here waxing lyrical about what it is to be born with a drive to create and the art of business.

Grandma’s Advice for Frustrated Creatives
I went with all the questions you had sent in (thank you – biggest response I’ve got about anything so far!) and grilled her. Here were her top tips to making money out of doing things you love:

1. Keep it simple
‘Look, it was never anything very complicated’ she told me when I asked what her approach was to see if I could find a formula to her success. Her formula was this: ‘you make something, you sell it. And then you grow it from there’. Simple.

2. You don’t have to know how to do everything before you start
Just get started and you’ll learn as you go along. When I asked her how she had learnt the tricks of the trade she said very simply ‘trial and error’.

3. Find the best people
We both agreed that it’s the people you bring on board that make all the difference. She ended up poaching two staff from Buckingham Palace to work for her on their nights off when she was running a catering business. She credits the success of that particular business to having the best staff she could find. She learnt from them.

4. Just plough in.
Don’t think about it so much. If you have an idea of something you’d like to have a go at, grandma’s advice is ‘just plough in’.

5. Try things out
Her final piece of advice for anyone inspired to have a career like hers: ‘try things out’.

Interviewing my grandma and hearing her approach to business and the blank look on her face when I asked about ‘strategies’ and ‘formulas’ reminded me of how much we tend to overcomplicate things. We wait to understand how something should be done before feeling ready to give it a go. But real success always seems to come from keeping things simple and just jumping in and learning as you go along.

So if you’ve been playing around with ideas then maybe it’s time you did as grandma suggests and ‘just plough in’.

x Selina

Selina Barker