Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fancy starting your own business? You can do it!

I am handing over to Di from BuggyTug today!



I heard a sad statistic recently; apparently 50% of people would love to start their own business yet only 5% do.  With the economy as it is it’s not really surprising that people don’t want to quit their jobs to set up by themselves but there are many ways to do both.  In fact spare time businesses are now so popular there’s even a book called “Working 5-9: How to start a successful business in your spare time”.

My name is Di Mayze and I’m the inventor of BuggyTug, the UK’s only branded pram wrist strap. I often get asked how I managed to launch a product and thought I’d hijack Piddley Pix’s blog tell you how I brought my product to market and hopefully give you some useful tips if you are thinking about setting up on your own.

I started my business whilst on maternity leave; I have wanted to work for myself for the last ten years but didn’t have an idea for a product and didn’t know where to get one from.  I never thought I’d not only invent a product but have it listed in stores such as Jo Jo Maman Bebe and Asda within 6 months of receiving stock.  All whilst looking after a baby!

Like many entrepeneurs, particularly Mumpreneurs, I invented my product out of need.  I had a second hand Bugaboo which came with a pram strap but when I replaced it with a new pram I realised how reliant I had got on the strap and started to look for one.  When I couldn’t find one anywhere I decided to make my own.

If you have an idea for a product what next? The first thing I would say it that it’s easy to get bogged down with Patents.  Patents can cost a fortune, take a long time and because the patent becomes invalid if you tell anyone about your idea you won’t know if there is even a market for it.  I recommend to most people to protect their brand and idea with Trade Mark, copyright and even Registered Design but only go for a patent if you are really sure about your idea. 

My philosophy with BuggyTug was to get it to market as soon as possible and I did this by working with a manufacturing agent who would do the liaising with a factory in China and they followed my design (made with a cut out wetsuit and some sellotape!) to give me a prototype to take to stage two.
 Stage two involved sharing a stand with two other inventors at the Baby Show for Trade.  Sharing a stand made it way less scary as they had both exhibited before and also reduced costs considerably. 

All I took for my stand was a pram, a poster and a prototype of BuggyTug, my area looked so pathetic I almost cried but wasn’t going to quit.  I had entered a competition that the show was running and that combined with my passion for my product was enough to not only win the competition but subsequently secure orders from Jo Jo Maman Bebe and Asda.  Getting out of my comfort zone was the key to getting started; I even followed two buyers from a large supermarket out from the buyers’ cafe and asked if I could do a two minute pitch.

Running your own business doesn’t have to mean a 70 hour week, some weeks when my son is ill for example I do the bare minimum for BuggyTug and catch up on everything when he’s back at nursery. 

The rule of thumb (or the “golden triangle” as it is sometimes called) is to spend a third of your time doing business development, a third account management and a third admin.  This works pretty well for me as a guide and I’m increasingly outsourcing the bits I’m really not great at.  As I’ve previously mentioned someone else takes care of all the manufacturing of BuggyTug and bringing it in the UK, I am part of a PR syndicate which means I have PR experts working on my behalf identifying new PR opportunities, I also have a distributor who has an excellent relationship with all the key retailers and makes getting stocked by them much easier and quicker and I’ve recently posted a request on Elance.com to find someone who can take over the running of my Wordpress website.  It all reduces my margins but means I can focus on the bit I’m good at which is selling BuggyTugs!  Whatever your strength is focus on that and outsource as much as you can, it’s no fun being awake all night while you worry about how you’re ever going to get your website up or market your product.

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