“Ultimately, I want to be the market leader. That’s my big ambition”
Clare Garner is someone very ambitious. Her determination saw her overcome the adversity of her partner Gus breaking his neck just as she was establishing Prestige, a cost management business. Now, aged just 28, Clare says she’s always been convinced she’d have business success:
“I’ve always been really entrepreneurial and known I’d have my own business one day. I didn’t know how I’d get there, I just knew I would.”
Clare grew up in Ilfracombe in North Devon and started her family relatively young. She and Gus moved to Exeter when their little girl Sophie was just 10 months old. There the young mum fell into timeshare sales. Despite enjoying some aspects of the job and becoming her employer’s youngest ever manager, Clare knew her future wasn’t in timeshares. She applied for a position with a cost management company.
“I’d never done B2B before and was very inexperienced. Luckily they saw something in me and gave me a go. From the moment I started I knew it was the industry I wanted to be in.”
Having gained wide industry experience, Clare decided it was time to set out on her own. Unfortunately, just as her plans were unfolding, her partner Gus was involved in a cycling accident in which he injured his neck. In a cruel twist, just six weeks later the couple was in a car accident, which exacerbated Gus’s injury and actually broke his neck.
“Gus was out of work for my whole first year, just to make things even harder! I think if you’ve got that drive and ambition then you try to overcome anything that’s put in your way.”
As though to prove that point, Clare persevered and established a business with an exciting future. Prestige specialises in core utility cost management across energy, telecommunications and IT. Clare has set Prestige apart from the competition by offering a service that’s about long-term results and commitment:
“Prestige is very much about ongoing relationships and really being seen as the extra member of clients’ management teams but without the wage.”
Throughout Gus’s recovery and the hard work of setting up a new business, Clare had no professional guidance or advice. In fact, she had long felt that if she could just meet the right person to provide tailored support she would find success:
“I actually always wanted a mentor going back years and years before I even set up Prestige. I believed that one day I would be successful but I’d just never come across the right person.”
When she spotted on Twitter that Meet a Mentor was coming to Exeter, she jumped at the chance to attend.
“It was a really good day and very well attended with a good mix of mentors and mentees. The diversity was great because everyone has different needs and aspirations. I found a mentor I liked so that’s all I could ask for really.”
The person Clare met was Susie Titchener, an experienced mentor with some very useful cost management sector insight. The two women conduct their relationship over the phone and plan to Skype in the future. Speaking about what she hopes to gain from these exchanges, Clare says:
“It’s personal development and it gives me someone to bounce ideas off. I work at home and I’ve no staff yet so it’s quite solitary. Susie is a sounding board and someone I can just talk to about my ambitions and goals. I know she’s going to support me and really push me to get me to where I want to be.”
So, where does Clare want to be? Well, typically, her aspirations are impressive:
“Ultimately, I want to be the market leader within the cost management sector. That’s my big ambition. And why not!?”