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Michelle Mone: Never sit back in business and wait for someone to come to you

Baroness Mone has urged entrepreneurs to seize opportunities and proactively grow their businesses, telling would-be businesspeople to "never sit back".
“You’ve always got to approach people, you’ve always got to be looking for opportunities," Lady Mone said. “Never ever sit back in your business and wait for someone to come to you, because it never will happen.”
Michelle Mone made millions from her underwear business and now has a seat in the House of Lords. She told an audience at the Telegraph's Festival of Business in London of how she progressed from her childhood in the East End of Glasgow, where she grew up an only child after losing her brother to spina bifida, and left school at 15 to help look after her disabled father.
“I left school with a real fire in my belly, a determination and a can-do attitude,” Lady Mone said.
“I always tell young people, especially from deprived areas: it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what education you manage to get, it doesn’t matter if you’re from money or not, your education or the colour of your skin. If you’ve got real determination, don’t let anything stop you.”
Lady Mone worked as a model and later at the Labatt brewing company, where she eventually became head of marketing for Scotland. But aged 24, after giving birth to her second child, she was made redundant.  
“I was devastated. I thought what am I going to do? I’ve got this massive mortgage, I’ve got a car, what am I going to do with my life?”    
The answer came after she went to a dinner dance with her then husband, whilst wearing an especially uncomfortable cleavage-enhancing bra.
“I thought, I can invent a much better bra than this.”  
She spent three years designing the Ultimo and in 1999 had it stocked in Selfridge’s after turning up at the Oxford Street department store unannounced and demanding a meeting with the lingerie buyer.
Later in the brand’s life Lady Mone was left heavily out of pocket after a distributor disappeared with millions of pounds' worth of stock and money.
Michelle Mone: Never sit back in business and wait for someone to come to you

“The bank then called in the overdraft and it was almost over overnight,” Lady Mone said. But she managed to call in a favour from a contact at HSBC.
“I don’t know what makes me so determined, every single trauma in my life I always keep fighting on, I never give up. There’s just something always within you that when you think I’ve had it now, I’ve had enough, there’s something that keeps you going.”  
Between 2013 and 2014 Lady Mone sold a majority stake in the business to Sri Lanka-based fashion giant MAS and in 2015 she was made a life peer. 
“I thought how can I be a baroness? How, when I haven’t even gone to college or university, how can I sit with all these highly intelligent people?
“A lot of the time we’ve got to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Sometimes we’re too comfortable and by God did I push myself out of my comfort zone with that one. I’ve been there two years now and I’m there for life and I absolutely love it.  
“I got here through sheer determination and hard work. I love business and could never just lie on a beach. There’s so many things that I want to do.”  
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