how she did it

Case Studies // From The Film Industry, To Gen...

From The Film Industry, To Geneaology

Female Entrepreneur of the Week 16th April 2012

This story is about…

Female Entrepreneur: Naomi Leon

Location: UK

Company: Research Roots

Industry: Research

She started her business because of: “Passion! I’ve heard it said that, if possible, your work should be what you would choose to do with your time whether you are paid for it or not. I believe in that.”

Age range: 30s

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business…

I am a Researcher and Genealogist and run an independent research company called Research Roots. The focus of my work is family-centric. I work on commission to produce family histories – ‘personal dossiers’ – often commissioned as a gift or to answer a particular question or family mystery. I also specialise in probate research or ‘heir hunting’ (finding beneficiaries to estates when someone has died without leaving a will or any known heirs). My work brings me into contact with a variety of legal professionals for whom I undertake specific searches – from locating a missing person or beneficiary, to finding a will or sourcing other types of documentation required to support a case. Sometimes cases are related to wills and probate, other times they might involve adoption or families estranged through a variety of different circumstances.

I also undertake other types of bespoke research for authors, filmmakers and academics and private individuals (such as house histories or tracing the history of a treasured object or antique).

What was your main motivation behind starting your business?

Passion! I’ve heard it said that, if possible, your work should be what you would choose to do with your time whether you are paid for it or not. I believe in that. Though I had worked in a variety of interesting jobs in the film industry since graduating, discovering genealogy made me realize what I really wanted to do with my life. Beginning with my own family tree and then researching for others, I came to be fascinated by the puzzle, the process, the detective work. I also realized that there was an appetite for what I was doing and the skills I had developed (helped by the background of a degree in history) that I could make use of in a professional context. It goes without saying that I also relished the opportunity to be mistress of my own destiny (!) and have the time to pursue other things that matter to me.

What’s a day in the life of you like?

One of the great pleasures of being self-employed is that no two days are the same. A typical day starts with emails and general housekeeping. I conduct a lot of research on the internet but on any given week I tend to visit an archive or library, depending on the case I’m working on. I also have meetings with solicitors and clients commissioning research, exploring what they hope to find out about their families, and try to attend workshops and events that help me to get a bit of outside perspective about myself and my business growth. I also try to build in a time each day to get away from my desk and into my running shoes…with varying degrees of success!

What challenges have you faced?

Self doubt. A tendency to procrastinate.

How have you overcome the challenges?

Just getting on with it. It helps to have a ‘big picture’ and ensure you do something every day towards achieving that goal. Also, knowing that I’m solely responsible for my own success or failure is a great motivator…

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Receiving my first cold call from someone who had come across my website, and then became a customer, was quite an exciting moment!

How have you raised the awareness of your business?

So far, word of mouth, social networking, advertising, Google ads and focusing on my website SEO.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I’m a big believer in lists. Making a good, structured list with achievable tasks helps carry you through times when you feel demotivated. Also having a good friend to call for the occasional pep talk.

Who inspires you?

My parents. People who ‘do’.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Believe in yourself. Plan but don’t over think. What are you waiting for?!

What’s your favourite quote?

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

{Samuel Beckett}

Do you have a business philosophy?

Work hard and be nice to people.

What’s your goal for the next year?

While things are going well, my business is still in its infancy so the overall goal is growth. Beyond that I am also pursuing further academic and professional qualifications this year which I hope will contribute to the long term success of the company.

 Get in touch…

Twitter: @researchroots



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