Celia Gaze is the founder of The Wellbeing Farm in Edgeworth, near Blackburn. Operated from converted farm buildings, Celia’s business offers a venue and facilities for corporate events, weddings and special family occasions, as well as for company days out and wellbeing activities.
Recently The Wellbeing Farm won the Sustainable Business award in the 2022 Enterprise Vision Awards and was awarded the Green Business of the Year award at BIBAs 2022. It is also the first events venue in the UK to achieve B Corp Certification.
Celia shares her advice for businesses looking to scale and inspirations as a female business leader.
What is the most important quality of a scaleup business leader and why?
You need to be so resilient that it carries you through the ups and downs of business. As a scaleup business leader, the actions you take are what will grow or reduce your business, so you need to take 100% responsibility for them. This means continuously keeping your mindset positive, being careful who you surround yourself with, what information you take into your brain.
You need to keep looking at what you are tolerating and keep changing the things you don’t like. Setting up, creating and scaling a business is tough and it is a true resilience test. You’ve got to just keep going.
How have you grown and developed as a scaleup leader?
I have a growth mindset and I am constantly finding ways to improve customer experience. My latest focus is on B Corp, and I feel by finding this movement I’ve found my passion and purpose. Since becoming B Corp Certified, The Wellbeing Farm has improved its sales, engagement and customer support and we experience no problem in recruitment – factors rare in the hospitality sector at the moment. It is one of the best things I’ve done for my business.
One critical element as a scaleup leader is that you are only as good as the team you leave behind so you’ve got to do everything you can to support your team. This means providing good clarity and direction for your team, giving them the space to generate their own ideas, create the energy and enthusiasm, support and empathy to enable your team to deliver success.
How do you inspire and empower your people?
One of the best things I did in my business was my ‘back to the floor experience’. Inspired after watching Undercover Boss, when we reopened post Covid, I was struggling to recruit a chef, so decided to do the role myself (I am a qualified chef). It made me realise how hard the role is and the pressures they feel. This transformed my understanding of the team and what followed was investment, empathy and care for my team. The staff have a renewed respect for me (and I for them), and it gave me invaluable insight.
Being a B Corp means staff are much more involved in the running of the business and I think this also generates and empowers staff. It’s a privilege to create a place where people love to come to work.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received and why?
On a farm, always expect three things to go wrong every day. When you are dealing with animals anything can happen!
My mentor Victor Giannandrea goes on about ‘communication and coordination’ nearly every time I see him, but it is absolutely critical in any business. You must have good communication structures and a way of coordinating so people understanding what is going on – this is fundamental for a scaleup business. You must have everyone rowing in the same direction to grow.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned on your business journey, and how has this impacted you?
Oh my goodness, I learned so many lessons and made so many mistakes that these were published into an actual business book!
I think you must learn to love and embrace failure – every time I’ve failed my business has just got better and better. I now look for opportunities to fail as you learn such valuable lessons and insight.
Systems and processes are critical – when you document what’s in your head as a business owner, this creates business freedom.
Also, one of the best things that happened to me was near-bankruptcy – although it was the worst experience to go through at the time, it caused me to pivot, relook at my life and business and I am much more financially astute as a result.
What scaleup business do you admire the most and why?
There are so many that’s its hard to define one. What I do like and admire though is how the business owner is honest, vulnerable and puts themselves out there – this is what I’m trying to do now.
Authenticity means a lot in business, and you can see right through those who are faking it. As a scaleup leader you’ve got to realise that you are an advert for your product and people want to hear your story. I admire leaders with passion, inspiration and who are open and honest about the mistakes they’ve made.
What key metrics do you look at everyday in your business?
Enquiries, visits, sales – I get sent a scoreboard.
What is the legacy you want to create?
You only get one life so make the most of it. I hope that my story empowers others to seize opportunities and make the most of their life.