So how’s it been? I will be honest in this account, because I can be nothing else.
When you have an idea and a passion to have something to call your own, it is very easy to get carried away with that idea. Myself and Ann had been planning Little Bugs for about a year before we started. We both felt we had learnt a lot about what not do in our previous employment, but it is inevitable that you still make decisions that in hind sight you wouldn’t have made given that time again.
I think the biggest underestimation we made was how much money you need to market an online business, let’s face it we have no shop front so how will people find us?
I remember us panicking that we would sell out of stock in two weeks, and how would we be able to re-stock quickly, we smile about that now as the reality was a lot different.
Advertising is a tricky one; with limited budgets it is difficult to know the best place to spend your money. Google advertising is great but expensive and magazines have not been that successful for us yet!
Twitter and Facebook are a must in our current times, as much as I hated the thought of it; I can now see the benefits. It’s free, fun and I actually really enjoy it! I would say it’s easy to get sucked in and I have had to learn how much time, and at what time, I can do my social networking. When Little Mr is around is not the best time, he sees this as the perfect opportunity to get up to mischief!
Mummy guilt V’s work guilt, now this is a tough one, and to be honest one I have not resolved yet. Getting the balance right is an ongoing struggle, the kids often try to shut my laptop, or the new one from them is let’s run around doing a manner of things Mummy wont like until she gets off that computer (it works!). I have also had the gut-renching comments like ‘Mummy you never take me to school any more! Or Mummy you never play with me, Boo Boo (the mother-in –law) always plays with me, Grrrrrr!
I also have a part time job, just to make sure I have an income, so it does mean that I am not always around to do the school run, trying to explain that to a 5 year old is not easy.
Ann’s children are a bit older but demanding in other ways, so she too has this struggle with family and work.
On the other side, if I am not spending every bit of free time on Little Bugs I also feel guilty, Ann is often telling me off and bringing me back to reality ‘we can only do what we can’!
On the positives I love buying new stock, I am a bit of a shopaholic (this is dangerous) I get so excited when new products go on the site and photo shoots are amazing, but very stressful.
Our idea is that normal kids wear our clothes, not models and we try to show this in our images. The slight down side is that our kids are not used to being photographed in that way, we have a job to get any of them to stand still. Little Mr managed to do a runner on the last one, not helped by the fact he had grabbed a bag of sweets and ate the whole lot!
Baby shows are a positive step forward and we have lots booked this year. I love seeing people’s reaction to what we have on offer and when this results in sales it’s even better! We have met some lovely Mummys and gorgeous kids on the road and are looking forward to meeting lots more!
PR – well firstly I have to say I recently joined the team at Quite Great Communications, so I am having firsthand experience of what PR is all about. So much happens behind the scenes to make a campaign work, again this is an area that I under estimated as being a vital part of growing a business!
I now realise that compared to advertising PR is a great cost effective way to gain awareness for what you do. The creative spins that the guys come up with are very cleaver, so I would say to really think about this in your business plan and definitely budget for it!
Business Link has been a huge help to us and its free until October this year when it will be cut, so use it while you can.http://www.startupbusinesslinkeast.co.uk/?gclid=CLWonfv-4qcCFUFC4Qod8HnQ8g
Ann and I have a 3 year plan for Little Bugs Boutique and have been realistic about when we may make a profit. My advice to others thinking of starting up this kind of business would be: if you have to be financially reliant on it straight away and also have limited time and money, think again!
It does help to have a great partner whom you share the burden and bad days with, we pick each other up and offer support to get through another day.
We have had lots of tears but also quite a few laughs along the way, we are learning so much and are looking forward to learning even more.
I have used this saying quite a bit lately, ‘Slowly, Slowly catchy monkey’, we are 6 months into our 3 year plan and are hanging on in there, we have had great support from our friends, and our new Little Bugs Fans
As a thankyou we would like to offer you 10% off all of our new full price stock until End of April. Please enter the code: LBB33
We appreciate your comments as always Justine & Ann xxxx