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Simona Scotto, Founder of Counterpoint DanceAfter taking up ballet at the ripe old age of 19, Simona Scotto formed her own dance company three years ago as a way to challenge society’s perception of ageing.

Born in Sardinia, Italy, Simona Scotto came to London just over 20 years ago to study and become a professional dancer.  During the past six years she has been working for Sadler’s Wells Theatre where she became inspired by teaching and choreographing for the resident older people’s company.

Three years ago she formed her own dance company for the over 55's thanks to a BBC documentary by Alan Yentob featuring dance for older people and that became Counterpoint Dance.

Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande, Founder of online members only travel club Passepartout Homes Ltd, explains how launching her own business was the answer she was looking for in terms of balancing her work and family life, and shares some of the lessons she has learned along the way.

I’ve come a long way. Since launching my business in December 2012 and concentrating on it full time since April 2013, I’ve come a long way. The site, Passepartout Homes, started with just 5 properties; it now offers over 60 fine holiday rental villas around the globe.

I have learnt to cover everything from web design, copywriting, marketing, PR, advertising, accounting, solving IT issues, understanding social media (and trying not to waste too much time updating my posts), researching the market, writing a blog and more.

I also discovered along the way that to be picked up by the press you have to buy your way in. Who would have imagined? I thought you just had to be good looking and interesting to grab the attention of journalists and bloggers. I have had some nice press coverage though. Most recently I have been interviewed by A Luxury Travel Blog and a couple of our properties have been mentioned by this very well respected travel site as among the best places to stay.

Cathy Nunes, Founder of The Origami BoutiqueOrigami jewellery maker Cath Nunes tells us about the early days of her business and shares her top ten tips for entrepreneurs.

As a young I child I remember making things out of paper like fortune tellers, hats, planes and boats that I would send down streams in competitions with my brother and cousins. As my mum was a primary school teacher there were always craft magazines around and I used to make things out of paper from carnival masks to Christmas nativities.  At a later age I remember helping my mum to make original gift wrapping.

Fashion entrepreneur Emeline Coates talks to us about her French influence, the importance of ethical trading and the pressures of starting a business during a recession...

My handbag label Torula was born in 2008, after initially starting out as a weekend venture. The business expanded rapidly into a full-time job but it was never a radical decision I made one day. I loved handbags, started playing around with ideas and designs, had a couple made, sold them on Portobello Road Market and gradually discovered something that I really enjoyed doing. The rest is, as they say, history.

Ondina Montgomery on Her Journey as an EntrepreneurIn a tribute to US mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, who asserted that all mythical heroes experience the same 12 steps on their adventures, Ondina Montgomery draws parallels between Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and that of the entrepreneur.

Part 2 of the Hero's Journey describes the protagonist's Call to Adventure, where the hero is presented with a problem, challenge or adventure. Click here to read the first part of Ondina’s series, The Hero’s Journey Part I: Ordinary World.

I need, I need! I want, I want! This is what Jacob Bronowski described in his seminal book The Ascent of Man. The power of the imagination!  When I was a child growing up I just loved looking at the Atlas and imagining where I could go. I yearned to travel. To see other worlds and cultures! But when you “grow up” it is surprising how fast you can forget your dreams. Especially when you are woken up into other people’s realities.

'Daisy' by Coral TurnerCoral Turner looks at why startups are rarely 'overnight successes' and what to do if interest in your business is more of a trickle than a flood.

This is the latest in the series of Coral's Startup Diary entries about the challenges of being a fashion entrepreneur. To see her previous blogs, click here

I’ve been meeting with a lot of my fellow female entrepreneurs recently who have been talking to me about the frustrations of their businesses, how the work they have been putting in has not been converting into the sales they need to sustain their business, and some are actually thinking of giving up.

Jessica Huie explains how her daughter was the inspiration for her line of multicultural greetings cards and how she negotiated high profile partnerships with retail chains in the UK and USA.

If you’d have told me I’d be running my own greeting card and gift business ten years ago I’d never have believed you. I was working full-time in the media and enjoying a very successful career in public relations and journalism in 2007, working with clients such as Simon Cowell and Peter Jones and writing showbiz stories for the national press; my daughter Monet who was seven at the time was going through a tough period.

Beatrice Bartlay, Founder of 2B InterfaceBeatrice Bartlay tells us how she founded 2B Interface, a recruitment agency initially specialising in manufacturing, which now provides a broad range of personnel from both the UK and abroad. Here Beatrice explains the highs and lows she encountered along her path to success, and shares her top tips for startups.

I started 2B Interface to provide a reliable source of staff for UK manufacturers in 2005, when I moved to London and helped a friend who needed a source of specialist workmen. At a stroke the proposition removed the concerns of prospective employers who wanted good, skilled workers but needed to be able to tap into a labour pool that was both organised and within the traditional, legal employment framework.

From the beginning, 2B Interface provided woodworkers, metal workers and construction trades people for the UK shop fitting industry, broadening the range of skills to meet increasing demand. From first supplying individual staff, we grew as employers began asking for complete contract teams - with 2B Interface taking responsibility for maintaining team numbers.

Vicky Brock's company, Clear Returns, which enables online retailers to boost profitability by reducing return rates, was a winner at IBM's Smartcamp, part of the IT giant's Global Entrepreneur Programme. Here she shares her top ten takeaways from the experience.

I’ve always been a terribly ‘difficult’ shopper, but also felt that we could live our fast-paced urban lives more sustainably. As an entrepreneur, I’ve found that I can harness these contradictory characteristics in my latest start-up venture, Clear Returns.

I’ve been that demanding shopper, and on occasion, the ‘customer from hell' in Britain’s high streets. Despite having limited time to really hit the shops, I would be the one taking shoes back to the retailer or returning that box to the online store. I wanted the shoes to be a perfect fit; and I knew from commercial experience that things could be made better.

Andrea Fragata Ladeira shares the story behind her not-for-profit company Care2Save, which provides a sustainable and long-term source of fundng for charities across the UK.

I spent my early years in Nepal, first in Kathmandu and then amongst the farm huts of Pokhara, where my parents were doing missionary work. I look back and I think my experience in Nepal has certainly shaped my character and outlook on life as I was only three when my parents made the inspirational decision to go out there to help people.

At that time, Nepalese life was all I knew. We were conscious of rabid dog attacks, the toilet was a hole in the ground and I walked to school with my brother along a dried up river bed, which in certain months was impassable.

I may be 40 now but the sights, sounds and especially the vivid smell of the moment we stepped off the plane in Nepal will never leave me.

While I did witness the very worst of abject poverty, open sewers and families living in squalor, I also encountered incredible human kindness and compassion.