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Inspirational Women Q&A: Charlotte Knowles, Elektec

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Charlotte Knowles is the finance and business communications manager at Darwen-based Elektec, a multi-award-winning electrical contractors, that is well known for its corporate social responsibility.

In September 2022, Elektec won the Family Business award at the Enterprise Vision Awards, which recognises women in business across the North West. Charlotte shares her own inspirational Lancashire woman in business story.

What does your business do?

Elektec is a family-run electrical contractors and electric vehicle charging point specialist. It provides electrical services to industrial and commercial sectors in the North West.

Why did you start your own business?

My husband, Carl Knowles, started Elektec in 2017. I previously worked as a social worker for 11 years. However, in 2019, Carl asked me to help him run Elektec. After much deliberation, I handed my notice in, changed careers and now work in the construction industry. Carl and I co-own Elektec.

What has been your biggest business breakthrough?

Elektec has been extremely lucky to win numerous awards which has increased brand awareness and company growth, including:

  • Mayoral award from the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen for “outstanding commitment to the local community”.
  • BIBAs 2021 Construction Business of the Year.
  • North West Family Business Awards 2022 Best Grassroots Social Impact.
  • Enterprise Business Awards 2022 Best Female Family Business Owner in the North West.
  • BIBAs 2022 Highly Commended Construction Business of the Year.
  • HIVE awards 2022 Commitment to Blackburn with Darwen and Family Business Awards.
  • National Success Story for The Prince’s Trust.

What has been your proudest achievement in your business?

My proudest achievement was being invited to meet with King Charles III in July 2022. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he spoke to us for several minutes and was very kind.

He took an interest in our business, asked how many people we employed and congratulated us on all we have achieved – we also had a chat about electric vehicles.

What is the most effective support or guidance you have received?

Be very strict and transparent with your payment terms to prevent cashflow difficulties. From a legal point of view, get any requested extras or changes to planned works in writing.

What keeps you going when things are tough?

I live my life by the motto “do good and good will be done to you”. When times are tough, I remind myself of this and strive to make a difference. There is always someone else in a worse position.

What are your best three tips for maintaining your wellbeing?

  1. If you feel burnt out or exhausted, listen to your body and mind and take a day or two off to recharge. You cannot motivate others and work effectively if you don’t feel at your best.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you and actively look out for your best interests.
  3. Do things that make you happy.

What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur starting a business?

  • Believe in yourself and regularly set yourself goals.
  • Recruit staff who align with your company values.
  • Find a good accountant. It is worth paying more for quality and reputation.
  • Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce as you can access all sorts of vital resources and helplines such as HR and Legal support, not to mention the networking opportunities which are invaluable.
  • Work hard to continuously value your staff and clients. Give them a reason to choose your company as a place of work or a supplier over your competitors.

www.elektec.co.uk

 

Would you like to see your business grow? So would we. To speak to someone from the Growth Hub about business support, contact Boost online or call 0800 488 0057.

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