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Hotelier shows appetite for learning

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The seemingly indefatigable 66 year old took over the venue when her hotelier husband died suddenly in 1991. She refurbished the hotel and built up the business, increasing turnover by a mind-blowing 800 per cent. Cloud Hotel is now worth £3m.

Owton was a Tiller Girl before marrying and never had any formal business education. “I didn’t know my bottom line from my chorus line,” she jokes, adding: “I learnt by trial and error. I read endless books, went to conferences and training days. You can learn an awful lot from other people.”

She even took inspiration from one of Joan Collins’s books. Owton says networking terrified her initially but found Collins’s advice (take a deep breath, put your shoulders back and go for it) helped her overcome the fear.

Owton is now passing on her knowledge to other entrepreneurs through her book that she wrote for A&C Black’s Business on a Shoestring series entitled Delighting Your Customers.

“I’ve spent my life talking to people but I’d never written a book,” Owton says. “I ended up writing the first chapter by hand then I bought a lap top.”

She adds: “I’d like to write another book, do more public speaking and perhaps do some training and consultancy work although that’s hard when you’re still running a business.”

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