Sarah Beeny EXCLUSIVE: “You’re either good at running a company or you’re not. Being a mum shouldn’t come into it”

DHL speaks to TV presenter and businesswoman, Sarah Beeny, about work, family and why she’d never call herself an entrepreneur


Star of Channel 4’s Property Ladder, Help! My House is Falling Down and Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare, author of 7 property development books and the business brain behind online sites and Tepilo. It’s a wonder Sarah Beeny has time to breathe. How does she fit it all in?

“I often ask myself the same question. I’m lucky I’ve got some great people around me. It’s sometimes a struggle to keep up with everything, but I really enjoy getting stuck in and staying involved in all the activities. There’s not really any secret to it – it’s just a case of working long days and prioritising,” Sarah explains.

After setting up a successful property development company with her brother at the tender age of 24, the Reading-born mother of four landed the Property Ladder gig after randomly meeting a producer at a party. Since the series first broadcast back in 2001, Sarah has rarely been off our screens with straight-talking advice for amateur developers.

The decision to move into online business came back in 2007: “ came about through dinner parties. I’m naturally a bit of a matchmaker and I’m renowned for setting my friends up. Eventually, I got to the point where I’d run out of friends to pair the other ones up with, so it occurred to me there should be somewhere online to advertise them,” she recalls.

Not content with one successful online business, Tepilo followed in late 2009. The site empowers people to take control of the buying, selling or letting of their property without the need for an estate agent.

“I wanted to be able to show people how easy it really is to sell or let a property – and how disproportionate agent fees are relative to what they actually do to market your property. The site’s free to use – we don’t charge commission!”

And despite Sarah’s many commitments, she’s determined to follow the golden rules of online business by moving with the times, responding to customers’ needs and providing exciting new services. “It’s going to be a busy few years – I’ve got some big plans for both the sites. We’re just about to launch a new version of and then we’ll be taking it international, all things being well. I’m keen for us to add new functions so it stays feeling fresh and innovative, and we’re developing apps to support mobile users,” explains Sarah.

But it’s not just for which she has plans for international expansion. Sarah is also clearly excited about the potential to take Tepilo global, enthusing about a proposed overseas section for the site. She also talks about the imminent launch of a new property services directory and a host of new marketing initiatives.

It may be busy, busy, busy , but business doesn’t get in the way of the Channel 4 star’s dedication to her family: “My number one priority will always be my children and husband – they come first. But starting a business, you do get flexible hours and a steady income with lots of control, so there are upsides,”

Does she have any advice for other mums thinking of getting started in business? “Yes, think twice about it!” laughs Sarah. “You’ll need to put a lot of time and hard graft into getting things going. It’s important that people think about how much time and money they can afford to put in to start with. Look at worst-case scenarios and ask yourself whether you’re being realistic. Being a mum is normally a full time job, so you have to know what you’re letting yourself in for.”

Yet despite doing a fine balancing act of managing family, businesses and TV career, Sarah Beeny seems reluctant to be labelled with the now all-pervasive term ‘mumpreneur’.

“I’m a mum and I’ve started businesses, but I’ve always thought you shouldn’t really call yourself an entrepreneur – that’s kind of for other people to decide. When it comes to a business, the fact that you have children shouldn’t really come into it. You’re either good at running a company or you’re not.”

For a smarter way to buy or sell property visit

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  1. Zoe Brown says:

    I loved this blog post!

    I am a massive fan of Sarah and like her I have a heap of children (5) and work long hours. I never see this as something that is ever even mentioned for men – doesn’t Dragon Peter Jones have five kids? Nobody asks how he manages as well as being in business.

    I firmly believe that you can be a good parent and good in business regardless of gender. Lke Sarah says being your own boss come with lots of benefits like flexible hours to work around the home if required.

    I am looking forward to seeing what Sarah does next…

    • Tommy says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post Zoe!

      ‘Mumpreneur’ is certainly a hot topic, and like many hot topics, it certainly has the power to divide people. Here at DHL we’re keen to celebrate the brilliant work ALL women (and men) with small businesses are doing to drive the economic recovery through international trade. We think mums in business are doing great work in this regard – that’s why we’re sponsoring the Mumpreneur Awards 2011 Best International Trader.

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