I had a window-cleaning business and then I had a sandwich business, neither of which were very successful. I worked in endless pubs and restaurants as a chambermaid, and at conference centres cleaning lavatories.Did you plan to get into the media and become a television presenter – how did that happen?The story of its loving, complex and painful restoration was followed by millions of people worldwide in the series “Sarah Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare”.Now, Rise Hall is certainly not the ‘nightmare’ it once was and thanks to Sarah, Graham and their incredible team, this hugely important piece of British heritage has been saved and is enjoying its renaissance as one of the UK’s top wedding and events venues.I've done a programme about Rise Hall (a building Ms Beeny bought to restore) and it is now a business concern, and I also helped set up Tepilo (a property buying website) so it does help being a media face. That is such a difficult word about oneself, because it sounds a bit mad, but I suppose in a way, I do. We stopped doing quite so much before the housing market peaked. Are you naturally good with money or do you have to work at it? I like to know how much money is coming in and going out and for many years I did all the accounts for the businesses.I wouldn’t, for instance, sign up to a campaign that I didn’t believe in. As Graham and I also run the websites, and he paints, plus I have my media career and books, it is very much a juggling act between activities. What’s been the most difficult lesson you’ve learnt about money and business?
My Single was very much because of my experiences of being in the media, and meeting the people I did. We are not building new towns or anything but it still ticks along. We bought it wanting to do it, and as it turns out, it has now worked out and is turning out to be a really, really successful business.
I guess that is the thing about being self-employed. I use my credit card if I buy online, or on the phone, or if I am abroad. I usually get £200 cash out from a cashpoint and hope it lasts a long time. If we got rid of something then we’d get something else.
The money sits in the bank and then you write this big cheque, and you think: “They are stealing my money! Do you have a personal pension or a long-term financial strategy? In a way I think it is time to take less on, so we may sell Rise Hall at some point and buy something else. We changed our accountant in the last couple of years, who is now advising me about business decisions. We speak on the phone quite a lot, and we meet fairly regularly. So anything from zero if they are not good to maybe 30 per cent if they are amazing. What lessons are you passing on to your children about money?
My parents were self-sufficient (we had a smallholding on which we grew our own vegetables, but it was a bit hit and miss), which I think encouraged my entrepreneurial side.
There certainly wasn’t a lot of money around when my brother Diccon and I were small, but then as I wasn’t asking for new things, it didn’t seem to matter.
The album featured hits such as the ebullient Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and tear-jerker Time After Time, the latter of which Lauper co-wrote.