How to start with a lim­ited bud­get

Fol­low our guide to get­ting your busi­ness off the ground

Country Homes & Interiors - - MY COUNTRY BUSINESS -

If, like So­phie, you have a

burn­ing de­sire to turn a cre­ative pas­sion into a busi­ness, but have lim­ited funds to make it hap­pen, some of the fol­low­ing poin­t­ers may help you get started in a lo­cal set­ting at min­i­mal cost. Never for­get that by start­ing lo­cal and think­ing big, anything is pos­si­ble.

Learn to wear many hats. To be­gin with, do as much as pos­si­ble your­self to save money. How­ever, don’t scrimp on brand im­age. Like So­phie, in­vest in a stand-out de­sign for your brand. This is a cus­tomer’s first in­ter­ac­tion with your busi­ness so it must look pro­fes­sional.

Re­search cost-ef­fec­tive shop

premises. Get to know lo­cal farm­ers/ land­hold­ers who might be able to of­fer you cheap rental premises away from ex­pen­sive high-street lo­ca­tions.

Op­ti­mise your buy­ing chan­nels. So­phie sup­ports lo­cal busi­ness by buy­ing flow­ers from a nearby cut­ting gar­den. She also or­ders on a weekly ba­sis from in­ter­na­tional sup­pli­ers that de­liver di­rect. Be­ing in­de­pen­dent and lo­cal does not mean lim­ited choice.

Buy in lim­ited runs. Or­der­ing can be stress­ful as quan­ti­ties can make or break a busi­ness. So­phie be­gan small, buy­ing in seven dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties at a time to work out what sold. Time al­lows you to per­fect your buy­ing skills and helps you to be braver with your de­ci­sions.

Be in­spired by the trends. Lo­cal does not mean parochial. So­phie fol­lows the new styles and colours in fash­ion and life­style – en­sure you do the same to keep ahead of the curve.

Get to know your cus­tomer base. So­phie was lucky to at­tract the at­ten­tion of three lo­cal schools and found a group of reg­u­lar cus­tomers. This ini­tial foot­fall was im­por­tant to get the brand started. It is, how­ever, vi­tal not to rely on just one cus­tomer stream. So­phie is al­ways looking for ways to reach new cus­tomers. Con­sider try­ing lo­cal in­te­rior fairs, pop-up shops and com­mu­nity and sea­sonal events to take your brand out to a new au­di­ence.

Think big. Save prof­its and plan for the fu­ture. Start­ing lo­cal does not mean al­ways re­main­ing lo­cal. Use so­cial me­dia/pr and press cov­er­age op­por­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate na­tional aware­ness, so when you are ready fi­nan­cially to take your brand to the next level, the aware­ness will be es­tab­lished.

Be proac­tive with col­lab­o­ra­tive

op­por­tu­ni­ties. Link with lo­cal, like-minded busi­nesses that have a sim­i­lar cus­tomer phi­los­o­phy to you. The power of shared or col­lab­o­ra­tive think­ing can be very re­ward­ing.

Look for new chan­nels to pro­mote

your mes­sage. So­phie’s skills as a word­smith and her cre­ative eye could lead even­tu­ally to book deals or fea­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties. Use your cre­ative tal­ents to de­velop ideas for fu­ture ini­tia­tives.

Take your­self out of your com­fort

zone. Keep push­ing your­self and your abil­i­ties with big­ger and bet­ter projects. So­phie is now do­ing large-scale events that would have seemed unimag­in­able just three years ago.

Im­prove your busi­ness acu­men. Seek ad­vice from an ex­pert and be sen­si­ble with your pric­ing. Don’t un­der-sell your cre­ativ­ity as this is the ba­sis of your fu­ture suc­cess. Web­sites such as star­tup­na­tion.com, star­tups.co.uk, small­busi­ness.co.uk and en­tre­pre­neur. com of­fer ad­vice for new busi­nesses.

Pro­vide out­stand­ing cus­tomer ser­vice. Happy cus­tomers will keep re­turn­ing and new leads will mul­ti­ply.

‘No two bou­quets are the same when you are work­ing with colour, tex­ture and Na­ture. Fol­low your senses and al­low your cre­ativ­ity to Flow’

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