Annabel Karmel: 'Women can be more ambitious than men but it takes courage to run a business'

In the final part of our "masters of business" series shining a spotlight on women at the top, Annabel Karmel, children's nutritionist and founder of the eponymous kids-food brand, shares her experience of running a successful business.

Annabel Karmel on women at the top
Annabel Karmel on women at the top

I’ve been in the business of writing about and producing quality food for babies and children for more than 25 years, but becoming an expert in my field hasn’t been without its challenges. Yet, I don’t believe that being a woman has held me back or altered my chances of reaching for the sky.

Being a successful businesswoman really comes down to having a unique proposition and utter self-belief. I’ve always been independent, confident and determined, which stems from wanting to create a legacy for my baby daughter, who passed away. My first book was turned down by countless publishers, but my determination and perseverance paid off with an offer from a major publishing house.

To be a successful businesswoman with a family, you need to be realistic about what you can manage

A deep passion and confidence will always prevail over any inequalities that you might encounter.

I’m not denying that it was difficult bringing up three children with the constant demands of building a successful business. I would often work into the small hours to make sure I’d responded to my emails, finished a book chapter or tested a new batch of recipes. But it didn’t matter, because I was following my passion. I had created a business around something I adored and had a real sense of purpose – to improve the diets of babies and children.

To be a successful businesswoman with a family, you need to be realistic about what you can manage. If you can be flexible about your work so that you can still enjoy important family moments, your business successes will feel even more rewarding. I would always get the children to cook for me on a Friday. It was "our thing", and no matter what cropped up, I would always keep this special time set aside.

I’m not afraid of hard work. It takes courage and backbone to run a successful business, but I’m in no doubt that women can be just as ambitious as men, if not more so. You just need to find your passion and have the conviction to see it through.