Karren Brady gives career advice — from setting up your own business to facing bullying claims

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she gives pointers to a 25-year-old who wants to set up her own consultancy business. Also, Karren gives advice to a mortified worker facing a HR investigation into accusations that she bullied her colleague.

Q) I completed my business studies degree three years ago and have since worked for a couple of large companies, which I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve been promoted three times already.

Now I really want to set up my own consultancy business and work for myself. My problem is that I’m worried I won’t be taken seriously because of my age – I’m only 25. What do you think?

Cara, via email

A) Mark Zuckerberg set up Facebook at 19, Daniel Ek created Spotify when he was 23 and Whitney Wolfe Herd became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire after creating the dating app Bumble at 25. Age doesn’t equal success and the world is listening more and more when young people have something valuable to say.

At West Ham United FC, we’ve set up a reverse mentoring scheme as we recognise how much value and insight younger employees bring to our company.

Make your age a positive, not an obstacle. People will take you seriously if you are professional, trustworthy and reliable. Once you start to build up your client base, use their testimonials to endorse your skills and offering.

While you have the security of full-time employment, you should start putting your business plan together. Organisations like The Prince’s Trust not only give loans to people aged 18-30 to start a business, but they also provide great training opportunities.

I would also suggest you find a mentor who can guide, advise and educate you in any area you lack experience in. I look forward to seeing your name on a “30 under 30 ones to watch” list!

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

Q) I’ve been accused of bullying a colleague and I’m mortified. I really don’t think I’ve acted badly towards her, but now I’m starting to question everything.

We’ve never really got on as our personalities are so different, and even when I try to help by explaining a quicker and more efficient way of doing a task, she seems to take offence. I mentioned this when asked for my comments about her for some 360-degree feedback, though I also raised some positives.

Now HR are involved and I’m scared I’ll lose my job. What should I do?

Ellie, via email

A) Bullying is a very serious accusation, so it is good that HR are involved – both to protect the accuser but also you. HR aren’t only there to document incidents, but to help you learn what has led to the complaint and what you can do going forward to make things better.

Make sure you ask for their help, and put everything in writing so you have it documented. As this person’s colleague – not her manager – be careful not to overstep the mark as it could lead to a power struggle.

You may think you are helping by trying to explain a more efficient method to her, but she may see it as you telling her that how she works isn’t good enough.

If she asks for your help with something, try asking her questions so she can come up with the solution herself. This coaching style will help get her to the same outcome, but she will feel a part of the process and understand things better.

Working with different personalities can be difficult, but it can also be a positive, as you can learn from each other.

Compiled by: Claire Frost

Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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