Worthing-based Iguana Training nearly collapsed after owner Lucy Ignatiadis suspended trading, following the devastating news her mum had weeks to live because of cancer.
And when her mum lived-on for nearly three months, the precious time spent came at the cost of ‘haemorrhaging personal and business debt’.
But after losing a number of key contracts, Lucy is now back on track, and her recovery has landed national recognition.
She said: “Last year was my annus horribilis. I lost everything I knew about me and who I am, leaving my husband as well as losing my mum.
“At the beginning of May we found out mum’s cancer had returned after eight years, and she had just two weeks to live, so I dropped everything and rushed over to Ireland.
“We were very lucky, as she lived until August, but it was a disaster for my business.”
With the support of friends and family, Lucy returned to the office, rebuilt old relationships, and cleared her business debts.
This year, she has moved to a larger office and recorded record months of trading.
Lucy said: “I know there is still a long way to go, and I am going to have a few more wobbles along the way, but my business has never looked healthier and more ready to grow.
“I also know if I can get through last year, then I can get through anything the world decides to throw at me.”
Her success has seen her reach the final of the National Entrepreneur Awards, in the ‘coming back from the brink category’.
She was one of five finalists, out of 65 entrants.
Lucy said: “It is quite easy to become overwhelmed by your goals and what you have to do to get there, but by focusing on the next challenge, and the next step, you keep moving closer and closer towards that goal.”
Guest speaker at the awards ceremony was Britain’s record Olympic medallist, Sir Chris Hoy.