Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Raquel Noboa, Founder and CEO of Fifty Shades Greener, located in Ennis, Clare, Ireland.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Fifty Shades Greener is an educational company for sustainable development. We provide consultancy and training services to business owners, educational institutions, and governments, as well as developing programmes of study at all levels of education for environmental and social sustainability. Our direct customers are business owners, governments, and funding agencies, we believe education should be inclusive and free for all, and we seek funding to allow our students access our programmes free of charge. In education, we work with students as young as 14 through our Secondary Schools programme, through the FET sector, and in adult education.

Tell us about yourself

I have worked in the Hospitality industry all my life. I was working in Maldives in 2004 when the boxing day tsunami hit the Indian Ocean. From that day on, I suffered a long decade of eco-anxiety, but I never understood what I could do as an individual to fight climate change. In 2012 I was appointed as the Green manager of Hotel Doolin in the west of Ireland, and I learned how to measure the Hotel's carbon emissions. This was when I realised that if I could measure those emissions, I could also manage them, and it became my life's mission to learn more about sustainability.

Knowledge is empowering, and my eco-anxiety started to get better because I finally felt I was doing my best for the planet we all share. In 2017 I finally took the plunge, and I left my career to found Fifty Shades Greener, so I could teach others what I had learnt on my own green journey.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

There are many things I am proud of, but the two most important things for me as how my business affects people in a positive way. When my students get in touch to let us know we have changed their perspective on climate change and how we have made them consider things they never thought of before, I know I am doing the right thing. And also my team, I pride myself in building a business that works for the people that work in the company.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Worry. Worry about letting my team down by making the wrong decisions and worry about letting my students down if my programmes are not good enough. I am terrible at criticizing myself, and I am aware of it, but it's a difficult mindset to change. No matter how well we are doing, I always feel I could do better, and it is something I am constantly working on so that I can enjoy the journey with no regrets.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be kind to yourself, always! No matter what mistakes you make, they are learning opportunities to make you better.
  2. Grab the chance to enjoy and take time off with both hands. Running a business is hard, so we need to ensure we allocate time in our diaries for personal time.
  3. Surround yourself with good people. When you are scaling the business, it might be your team, but at the beginning, it might be your friends and family. Listen to them; even if you do not agree at times, you can learn something from everyone, and it's important as a business owner to absorb as much information as we can from the people around us.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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