Helen Wright, founder and Director of 9-2-3

Photo of Helen Wright

Helen Wright is the Founder and Director of 9-2-3, specialising in placing high quality professional candidates into jobs with flexible hours; to help them have a work/life balance that makes them most productive, and to address the skills shortage that many businesses are facing by introducing innovative working hours. Whether that’s 9-3 school hours, more traditional part-time hours (of a few days a week) or even full-time hours (but with some home-working or compressed hours).

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

The birth of “9-2-3” has been a very personal journey. Following a career as a Broadcast Journalist, I stopped working to have a family. During this time, amongst other things, I was Vice Chair of the local Pre School and joined the Parish Council. But when I wanted to return to the workplace, I found being tied to the school run was prohibitive, as was the cost of hiring a nanny to look after my three children.

Chatting to other mums in the playground, I realised I was not alone. There were accountants, solicitors, marketing execs, HR professionals… the list goes on. None were working. What a brain drain! What a waste of experience. Here was a bunch of over-talented women all keen to work – all wanting to put their considerable expertise back to good use. And here in the booming Thames Valley!

In short, I realised there are lots of talented workers struggling to be discovered, along with lots of employers struggling to find the professionals they needed. So I decided to set up a recruitment agency, “9-2-3”, in order to help connect them.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
9-2-3 Logo

When I set up my business my friends sent me a card which said “She believed she could, so she did” – and I think this conveys a great sense of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?

I knew my idea was good enough to develop through speaking to lots of people who all agreed it should work! Plus I opened pages on social media, which soon attracted positive feedback. I also carried out some cold-calling, and soon realised that the concept should work.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?>

Thick skin and positive attitude, for when things don’t quite work out.
Ability to listen to advice and learn from mistakes.
Ability to multi-task (all the time).

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

The excitement of the journey.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?

This is very hard to answer as I find lots of individuals and organisations inspirational. I’m going to plump for Denise Coates, who is arguably Britain’s most successful self-made businesswoman.

If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?

  • How do you cope with the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur?
  • Is there anything you do to encourage girls to follow their dreams?
  • Do you have any flexible opportunities at Bet365 that you’d like me to help you with?
What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?

It’s not going to go right all of the time. Take time to learn from failures and use them to make your business stronger.

How have you funded your ideas?

Self-funded so far.

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?

The FAB Accelerator programme is based in Oxford and has been really helpful.
Plus the county seems to have a real entrepreneurial spirit which makes it a great place to be based.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?


Any last words of advice?

Take advice from a variety of mentors, and keep trying.