Boardman Bookings: Emma Boardman
Former dancer Emma Boardman on how she gave up the stage to become a top entrepreneur
Although Emma Boardman always knew she would start up in business, her entrepreneurial career virtually began without her realising. As a nightclub dancer with a few ideas on how the entertainment should be staged, Emma found herself naturally progressing into an event organiser.
“It happened overnight that I was running and organising not only dancers but all sorts of entertainers and musicians,” she recalls. “The clubs I was involved with held a lot of celebrity parties and events in-house and it was here that I gained my most valuable experience in organising and theming.
“It was only after doing most of the leg work to ensure that Lennox Lewis’ birthday looked spectacular and Mohammed Al Fayed’s daughter’s birthday party had the entertainment requested that I realised that I really had a flair for doing this stuff.”
It was while working as a podium dancer in clubs that Emma witnessed what she describes as the “disorganisation and general chaos” involved in the management of dancers. Before she knew it, her suggestions led her to taking charge of all sorts of acts, leading up to the formation of her company, Boardman Bookings, in 2002.
Boardman Bookings offers everything from human statutes to DJs for events from its base in West London. Emma admits she was partially motivated by the opportunity to gain recognition for her efforts.
“I thought it was about time that I stood to the forefront and got the credit for all my hard work instead of some smarmy club manager, who had about 5% input and wouldn’t have had an event if it wasn’t for me,” she says.
Despite naming Anita Roddick and Richard Branson has entrepreneurial role models, Emma admits she initially struggled when making executive decisions, something she puts down to a lack of business experience.
“I wish that I had worked for some other successful company in my sector for a short period of time to see how they did things in the office, as I had never been office-based and didn’t event know how to turn a computer on!” she says.
“I found that asking for people’s advice actually made me very confused as everyone had such strong conflicting opinions of how to do things. In the end I took all the advice on board and visited some business advice websites to give a more neutral overview on the questions I had, it is much easier to take advice from strangers than those close to you.”
Emma has grand visions for Boardman Bookings, with a trebling of full-time staff over the next year and the construction of a costume department.
“I think you should not go into business if you are not truly passionate about your sector as it is a lot of hard work and if you don’t love it you will not have the drive to make it happen,” she advises.
“Stay focused, it can be very hard to self-motivate yourself every day, but you have to remind yourself that the only person who will benefit is yourself and if you choose to be lazy you are only letting yourself down.
“I have no intentions of getting back on that podium ever again.”