In 2010, The Coca-Cola Company launched its global 5by20 initiative. In 2016, the programme made it to Scotland, where Dundee local Mandy Martin took part. We spoke to Mandy about the challenges of entrepreneurism, the 5by20 course and her advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs...

Why I took part in 5by20

I heard about the 5by20 initiative in Dundee when I was meeting with a friend looking at an office space. The course leader, Agate, was there to have a meeting afterwards and we were introduced. We quickly got chatting about the course, Coca-Cola, its partnering charity Showcase the Street, and why it was happening.

Coca-Cola’s goal to help enable the economic empowerment 5 million women entrepreneurs across its business by 2020 is absolutely fantastic. To have more women empowered to start up their own business is a great thing. I’ve been to a couple of networking events where the men outnumber the women by at least 5 to 1, and I think that women have a lot to offer and we’re often overlooked.

So to play a part in such a great initiative is a great joy.

What you get from it

This course is about helping you get set up in business, and get all your ducks in a row - with a particular focus on the food and drink industry. If you need to go and get funding, get your business plan organised and get all the tools you need, it’s a great place to get started. It was simple and very clear.

And it was really good fun! Agate was a fun, lovely and friendly course leader and I’ll be keeping in touch with a couple of the girls I met on the course. The guest speakers and experts provided invaluable knowledge and really helped fill the gaps I had. I’m particularly grateful to the employment law solicitor who highlighted some important things I need to get sorted soon!

Finally, it’s very exciting to be part of a truly global programme, especially from a well-known brand like Coca-Cola. When I grew up I remember going on holiday and getting my little glass bottle of Coke with a straw in it and how much I loved that (and I still am a fan I have to admit). So it’s really exciting to be part of something from Coca-Cola that’s helping to empower women around the world.

"It’s really exciting to be part of something from Coca-Cola that’s helping to empower women around the world."

How I became an entrepreneur

Everywhere I look in my family, there’s inspiration to be an entrepreneur. My uncle became self-employed at the age of 17. He’s in his 70s now and in that time he created a company worth millions. My parents owned their own business for about 30 years and my husband has his own business as well. So, while many are inspired by big names and bigger businesses, my inspiration comes from much closer to home.

Add to that the fact that I like being in charge and don’t like being told what to do and it’s no surprise that I started my own business! It’s been exciting, and I’ve felt just the right amount of nervous. But I’ve not been scared – I’m too busy working to make it a success to be scared.

I’m fortunate enough to have a family-full of entrepreneurs ready to give advice when I need it. However, the 5by20 course helped me a great deal in ironing out some of the finer details. My business is very different to the businesses my family run, so having the opportunity to fill in the blanks that they couldn’t fill was very helpful.

The challenges I’ll face

Professionally, as with many new businesses, the challenge is getting your name and brand out there in the right way. It’s about making sure people know who I am and know what I have to offer. That’s the major challenge I’ll be facing in the early stages of running my business. Only when I solve that challenge can I be a success and start making money.

"If you’re thinking of joining Coca-Cola's 5by20 programme, go for it! You have nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain."

Personally, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is going to be a challenge. Making sure that you’re there for your children when they need you is difficult to manage, especially when you’re starting a new business.
I’ve recently had one of my boys off school ill, and it really was a challenge. But for me family always comes first so I will always do what I can to be home when they need me.

The most important thing to me is that my children are happy, confident and can do what they love in the future. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a job that’s sucking your soul. I want to encourage them that you only live once, and they need to do what makes them happy.

The challenges I’ve overcome

I’ve had a very long, very difficult struggle with depression, anxiety and stress. Recently, I overcame this thanks to a programme that helped me work through these issues. The programme lets you gain a sense of power and control over experiences and how powerful you feel in life. It works on controlling social anxiety, how judged you feel by others and your own self-esteem. I worked on those three key elements and changed the way I viewed the world.

Overcoming these problems played a part in helping me set up my own business. Having the self-confidence and strength to go for it is half of the battle.

My advice to any budding entrepreneurs

If you’re thinking of joining Coca-Cola's 5by20 programme, go for it! You have nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain. If you want to try something, the only person that’s going to make it happen is yourself so just get out and do want you want to do.

Find out more about The Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 course in Dundee.