Been there, done that: business lessons from people like you

Priya Kapoor, PR Manager for 1&1 Internet Ltd., speaks to four business owners about their business journey and shares the biggest lessons they have learnt along the way.

Starting your own business can be challenging. You may find yourself asking questions such as: will my business be successful? How do I launch? What research should I do? Here, four business owners share an insight into their business and learnings. From a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, each with different levels of entrepreneurial experience, the only things that these business owners have in common is a website created using 1&1 MyWebsite.

business owners

Use video to sell your products and engage with customers

Simon O’Gorman launched his business, OG Media Works, in 2009. Struggling to maintain motivation and creativity in his job as a non-medical underwriter, Simon was encouraged to pursue his hobby as a videographer, turning it into a full time business. Today, with many clients particularly in the motor sport industry, he now offers a bespoke service devising film and creative campaigns that maximises views and the number of people that have an insight into that organisation. An important element of Simon’s business is the use of visuals and stills. Talking about the importance of such cinematic materials for SMBs today Simon said:

“If you want someone to know about your business, you don’t sell them half a story but tell them about the bigger picture. It’s not a gimmick strapline it’s true. If someone can see it they will believe it. If you try and describe something in writing it’s often difficult to visualise and sell. Videography and photography offer a view from the outside world into your business. A business that wants to sell its products and services has got to make their customers believe in their goods. What better way to instill that trust and make them believe than with real film demonstrating how it works and the faces behind it all. My advice is that video should be incorporated into the marketing plans of businesses. Especially now with the increased need for digital platforms.

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Look at each hindrance as an opportunity

Established in 2009, the Hayley Elizabeth Bridal Boutique, is a romantic and charming bridal boutique that offers choice and pristine dresses with a service that is second to none – making every bride’s experience a special one. Business owner, Hayley Elizabeth, decided to open her own boutique after an under par experience when searching for her own bridal gown.

Hayley, a mum of two, went to every wedding shop she knew but just couldn’t quite find the right dress or experience and was left feeling dissatisfied. With a strong belief that every bride should have an experience that is unforgettable, she decided to create her vision of a dream boutique that fulfils every bride’s dreams. Hayley’s advice:

“You need to take all your experiences as an opportunity. That’s what I did with Hayley Elizabeth. It wasn’t until my own experiences and disappointment as a consumer did I spot my business idea. While I always knew my career as an accountant wasn’t what I was interested in or passionate about, I definitely never imagined bridal, and now I am accounting – but for something that I am passionate about!”

Utilise technology to ensure you are accessible and relevant

Jacqueline Tobin, 44, a part-time English teacher with recent publishing and CSS/HTML training, decided a year ago to combine her interests in teaching, literature and technology to launch a long-awaited dream of running her own business – Huge Jam Publishing.

Encouraging children to explore their imaginations and strengthen their writing skills, the company publishes children’s stories. All the books, written by children and teenagers for children, are a proud way for parents to celebrate and share the early words of their child with friends, family and other children. For aspiring teenaged authors, Huge Jam can provide a first step into professional writing.

As well as publishing a pdf ‘eBook’ that is easily downloadable from the company’s website, Huge Jam converts each story into a format that is Kindle compatible and available for purchase from the worldwide Amazon Kindle Store. Giving each child an opportunity to earn a little pocket money from their creations while building their confidence, as well as teaching them entrepreneurship.

Through market research, Jacqueline quickly learnt that her customers wanted a book that was quick and easy to access. This meant considering the ways in which she presented her final product.

“Technology has changed the way in which businesses operate and offer their services – making it easier than ever for consumers to purchase online and access information. Over the last five years, the ways in which we can read books has changed. I had to ensure that the product I offered was compatible to the developing technology of the online market. It was important for me to ensure that my books were offered virtually – otherwise I would lose customers. My advice would be to research the technology for your business sector and ensure you satisfy and meet the market needs of your end consumer.”

Concentrate on your core business – outsource the rest

Mum Mumz is a new business startup. Owner, Shelly Gill, had the idea of providing fresh baby purées for mums short of time to spend in the kitchen, when weaning her daughter. Unsatisfied with the ingredients and production processes of the baby purées available from supermarkets, she decided to make her own nutritious, delicious meals for her little girl. Preparing and cooking the food at the start of the week, then freezing it for use over the duration of the week, meant her daughter was eating tasty, nutritious meals all the time. This was extremely important for new mum Shelly.

Having the idea to offer this option to other mums, Shelly went about setting her business up but not without a few valuable lessons learnt along the way.

“Prior to launching my own business I was working as an IT programmer. Knowing that I needed a website to share information about my menu options and pictures of my purées to other mums, I went about designing my site. With my previous web coding experience I already had the necessary skills and thought it would be quick for me create a site that was both user-friendly and professional. I was wrong. A few weeks in and the process was taking up a huge amount of my time that I could’ve spent elsewhere. A friend recommended using 1&1 MyWebsite and so I gave it a try. By the end of the weekend I had created a professional looking website with additional functionalities that I hadn’t previously considered included. What this taught me: that I need to focus on providing delicious purées to hard working mums rather than on spending countless hours building web pages.”

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