From the top · 4 December 2015

The small business advent calendar: 4 December – Another treat is revealed

Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day
Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day

The fourth door of our small business calendar opens to reveal an uplifting story that shows success in business is about more than a stellar academic record.

In June 2014, ColorBlind Cards founder Jessica Huie was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and awarded an MBE for entrepreneurship. Accepting the commendation and reflecting on the challenges she had overcome to receive it, she said: “It is not how far I have come, but the distance I have travelled.”

She left school with four GCSEs and became pregnant at 17 – but started working in public relations shortly after giving birth.

Huie was inspired to start ColorBlind Cards because she couldn’t find a card featuring a positive role model for her mixed-race daughter – and told The Telegraph: “When Monet wanted to straighten her hair and get rid of her lovely afro I went looking for something that was representative of her and there was nothing.

“It’s not really about race. It’s just really important we encourage self esteem on the next generation and this was my contribution to that,” she added.

In addition to running ColorBlind Cards, Huie has provided mentoring to young people interested in starting their own businesses and founded own PR company – JHPR – to represent entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Huie is not the only one to have achieved business success without academic accomplishment – some 11 per cent of business owner-managers have no qualifications, and fewer than one quarter have a university degree. Richard Branson left school at 15 and Alan Sugar has just one GCSE.

Nor is she alone in achieving business success at such a young age. Research released by BNP Paribas in November found that ‘Millennipreneurs’ –  company founders born between 1980 and 1995 – are outperforming older business leaders when it comes to achieving small business growth.

The study also found that young female entrepreneurs have been more successful than their male counterparts in 2015.

Check back tomorrow for day five of our small business advent calendar.

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Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.