They say necessity is the mother of invention and that’s certainly true in my case. The idea for the ‘Little Books’ came about when I became utterly fed up with my earrings and necklaces getting tangled, broken or lost. I searched everywhere for a product that would solve the problem and also look good on my dressing table, but nothing existed. That’s when I came up with my own solution to the problem. Simon, my husband asked a contact who made bags for television equipment to bring my concept, the ‘Little Book’ prototype, to life. The result was so effective that friends quickly began requesting their own and the idea for a business was born!
Seven years on from the creation of the first ‘Little Book’, the business continues to go from strength to strength, so much so that I sometimes get up-and-coming entrepreneurs asking me for business tips! I have three pieces of advice for anyone setting up their own business.
1. Test demand
By having samples of our product made we were able to test demand for it by persuading a local gift shop to stock a small selection. Within 24 hours they had sold out. This gave us the courage to launch the business properly and we received invaluable feedback about product formats, colours etc., which we took on board. My advice is to identify a local shop or business that reflects your own values, and whose products/services are targeted at the same audience. Then go in with some samples and just ask them to trial them! If you’re friendly, open and honest about what you’re asking them to do for you (and why), you will be surprised how supportive other entrepreneurs can be of fledgling businesses. After all they’ve been there themselves!
2. Take criticism
When you’re setting up your own business it can be easy to get carried away with how fantastic your idea is! However, you need to ensure that your own enthusiasm is grounded in reality. Listening to the opinions of others about your idea is therefore a must. Whether it’s your partner, your family or a mixed group of friends you get round for a bottle of wine and a chat about your concept or a research company focus group – they will all have a point of view. It’s great to hear what they love about your idea, but even more important can be inviting the criticisms. This is how you spot any pitfalls that you hadn’t thought of and can tweak your offering before you launch to make sure your product really works and is the best it can be. It is always difficult to hear the negatives when you’ve invested so much of yourself in an idea, but criticism is often the best advice you’ll ever get.
3. Create something you love
You’re likely to end up living and breathing your product/service once your business is off the ground, so make sure it’s something you love! I can guarantee there will be times when you’re frustrated, stressed out and questioning everything you’re doing. But if you’ve created something you love and believe in, your enthusiasm will overcome the doubts and your drive to see your product come to life will keep you pushing on through the toughest of times. And I can assure you, it’s worth it.