The NextWomen Fashion & Retail Theme.
As the designer and producer for my couture online boutique www.coralturner.co.uk I didn’t anticipate to what extent I would find myself becoming an ‘online internet marketing guru’ in the making.
I launched my one-of-a-kind online boutique in 2011, and it was mid 2012 that the website started to gain exposure and sales. So, to those fashion entrepreneurs out there and others in a start-up position, when it appears that the only voice you can hear as acknowledgement to your work is your own, and traffic to your website is practically non-existent, don’t despair. As a sole trader unless you have a marketing budget that runs into thousands of pounds and your knowledge of internet marketing puts you at equal standing as those who invented the World Wide Web, you have a huge learning curve ahead of you, and it will take time.
The great thing is - it is not impossible as there are others who have gone before you and are achieving great success; you just have to up your game plan.
It is an exciting time to be in business – the ideas being created online are shaping the future of the Internet and how we consume.
I started my business 2 years ago by putting up a single poster in a shop which attracted my first clients and today I am still trying to translate that idea of the local in the wider world of the Internet.
The single most important route to market is through word of mouth advertising, and this is where one begins.
I run a childcare agency called Nanny Network, connecting parents in London with nannies and babysitters. We offer a wide range of services, and most recently added a new ‘emergency childcare’ helpline, which is keeping me on my toes. I have also started another company ‘Book a Babysitter’ which is still being designed but is already very popular.
When is the right time to ‘splurge’ on expenses as a start-up?
When I was maybe eight or nine years old, my dad brought home an aquarium. It was one of those 80-gallon tanks that almost looks like a four-foot wide moving picture on the wall. He filled it with a couple of what I called "fancy fish" as well as a few small goldfish, and I soon found myself infatuated with the beautiful and calming vertebrate. Over time, however, we noticed something strange happening with the goldfish - they were becoming monsters! Those small orange fish that were once dwarfed by their fancier friends had grown to nearly the size of their peers.
The idiom suggests: It is better to be a big fish in a small pond – but if you’re a small fish in a large pond, do you grow into your surroundings? I’ve always wondered if those goldfish would have remained little had we put them in a smaller fishbowl.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
In 2007 my husband and I had been struggling on minimum wages - paying bills, our mortgage and raising our three beautiful children. The last straw came when after work one day, I went to the grocery store to pick up what we needed for dinner that night and my card was declined. I nearly cried right there. I was so tired of struggling with that almighty but necessary evil we call money.
Every business has a website. Years ago, it was an online version of a brochure but how times have changed. It’s now your marketing team, your sales force and your shop window. And the prize you're chasing is people`s time and attention. If you can be interesting and intriguing enough to keep people clicking around and (even better) coming back, you`ve got something right.
Zlimm123 is an online product; it’s a virtual product. No shipping, no postage and packing. Delivery is simple, as is the product. So, designing and writing the website should be simple too, right? But the reality couldn't be more different.
“You can’t do that.”
Has anyone ever ridiculed your idea? As entrepreneurs, we do not follow the crowd. When you step outside of the “we have always done it that way” mindset, expect discouraging remarks.
This is the story of my personal entrepreneurial journey, and how I didn’t listen to the naysayers.
Stage One - Before the Dream.
In 1981 when I moved to Steamboat Springs, CO, I purchased a struggling bakery. Struggling is an understatement; it was in intensive care on financial life support.
Candy Mountain Culinary Creations grew until it was furnishing all of the continental breakfasts for the entire ski resort. Was it easy? No. Baker’s hours are not exactly banker’s hours. Driving through the snow to start baking at 11 pm seven days a week was not fun.
Helen Keenan launched Little Punk London children’s clothing label in November 2012.
You can read her first Starup Diary blog here, which describes the start of her entrepreneurial journey. Below are the top ten lessons she’s learned along the way.
Starting a new business ? here’s my Top Ten Tips
- Register your business early and start building up your credit rating – for example, take out a mobile phone contract for the company, this will help you if and when you approach banks for loans/ credit cards/ overdrafts.
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR LONDONAIROBI COME FROM?
In Africa, projects often find you. A chance encounter on the tube became the starting point to joining two cities, 4000 miles apart.
I was travelling through London on the tube after coming back from a trip to Kenya, wearing a chunky brass necklace over a simple black top. I was stopped by a girl commuting alongside me who asked where my necklace came from. She had never seen anything like it and where could she buy it? “You can’t unfortunately”, I replied, “I bought it back from Kenya and this is probably the only one they had there!” Wow.
Over numerous trips to Kenya, I had managed to gather a unique collection of one-off pieces of jewelry and accessories. Each piece handmade by a different designer using materials and techniques I had never seen before. It wasn’t until I was stopped for a second time whilst wearing an African piece that I realized there could be a market for it in the UK.
As I approach my 60th year, I find myself working as hard as I ever have. Yes, I’m back in start up mode. Let me explain. For the majority of my working life, I’ve run my own businesses. Some (well, one) went spectacularly well; one went spectacularly wrong and the rest (yes, there’ve been a few) did ok, provided me with a reasonable income but didn’t set the world on fire.
Now, I’m giving it one last shot. This is the one which will be my crowning glory. This is the one which will provide my pension (I didn’t learn the ‘save for your old age’ lesson until it was too late) and prove to myself that I’ve got what it takes to see something through and get it right.
I have always dreamed of doing what I’m doing now. How strange that is to say. I don’t think many people get to say that in their lifetime, so I do appreciate where I am at this very moment. I’m a firm believer that you make your own luck and if you focus on what you want enough then, with hard work and determination, it will happen. I was brought up in a hard working, self employed family and had a great childhood, as Mum stayed at home to look after me and my two brothers while Dad was out working hard.