Dame Mary Perkins on starting her first business [Video]

Dame Mary Perkins recalls the early days of her first business

Dame Mary Perkins says “it never occurred” to her “to go to a job interview and work for a big company” so she set herself up as an optometrist “above a bakers shop” and “shared a waiting room with a doctor”

It was a fortuitous time she recalls, as it “was the height of the national health service”, so it “wasn’t difficult to start in optics because everybody was having free glasses and they could have them every two years without paying”.

This meant Perkins had a ready made customer base and she claims she knew she’d be able to “grow that business quite easily” by “being very nice to people”. She explains that at the time “opticians didn’t really have a very good reputation” as they could be “rude and standoffish”.

Securing customers can be as simple as just behaving in a more friendly manner than the competition and Perkins recalls that people got to know her and knew she “could be a very trusted optometrist”.

She would also go out and visit “hundreds of elderly people in these nursing homes… every week” because she was looking for openings other than just sitting waiting for people to come to” her.

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