Having personally attended this weeks Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Growing Pains and Gains event I felt there was a great sense of opportunity in the air whilst the three leading speakers shared their stories about how they grew their micro businesses into the huge success stories they are today. The talk was held in the British Library but it was also screened out to Libraries in Leeds and Manchester.
The speakers included Paul Lindley from Ellas Kitchen; Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company and Eamonn Fitzgerald of Naked Wines who all provided some fantastic insights into how they managed to succeed in their respective ventures. Here are some key lessons that you can learn.
Utilise the countless resources available to you
To get her business up and running Julie Deane had only £600 to use and amazingly never borrowed a penny or got into any kind of debt. Instead she learnt things herself and managed to build her own website . She put heavy emphasis on interacting with her customers via youtube getting their views on what they thought of their brand new satchels. If your company is small in size and budget there are so many resources that you can utilise. Tasks such as web building, market research and forging relationships with suppliers are all things that you can do yourself and don’t necessarily require outside expertise.
Catering to your users will create a powerful brand
Paul Lindley of Ella’s Kitchen has created a thriving business which is essentially food made fun for toddlers and young children. He did this by creating a brand where its power would centre in its authenticity. The product was designed in such a way that children could immediately identify with it . This would focus largely on their distinctive packaging and the simplistic language used to describe products. (For example some of their flavours have names such as The red one, The yellow one or the Orange one). This complimented the idea which was to ‘ think like a toddler’ and ensure the product reflected this. What this ultimately demonstrates is how far a powerful brand can propel a small business to potentially become a leader in its field.
If your product is fantastic word of mouth will make it spread
One of the main points emphasised by Eamon Fitzgerald of Naked Wines was about focussing on the quality of your product rather than pumping money into advertising. His general idea was that what you sell should be of such excellent quality that it won’t need heavy advertising as word of mouth would be enough to get people interested. Whilst not everyone may share this view it is of course hugely important to focus on getting your product totally correct before you spend all your efforts promoting it before its ready. In an age of heavy scrutiny if your product isn’t up too scratch you can be sure people will be discussing its flaws across social media.
A great company culture counts for a lot
The general impression I got from all of these fantastic entrepreneurs is that they all felt that their business was about more than making profit. It was apparent to me that they all cared a great deal about creating a harmonious culture internally as well as forging a sense of loyalty from their employees. Eamon had said one way he would do this was by making every member of staff at Naked Wines a shareholder whilst Paul suggested employing people who are as passionate as you are was another way in creating a strong sense of cohesion and having ‘ an awesome team’. Ensure that your culture is one which is happy as this could be translated into greater sales.