This week, Cassandra from ‘Tweedles Handmade’ shares her thoughts on setting up a business…
Over the years I have read so many articles from highly motivated women explaining how they dreamed of being their own boss, and building their own empire. They planned, prepared, saved, slogged, networked and created extraordinary businesses. But not all businesses start out like that.
It was never my intention to set up a business. I was happily settled in my (occasionally mundane but lucrative) job as a Software Implementation Manager. I had a strong team, good relationships with my colleagues, a fun working environment and the flexibility to occasionally work from home when I needed to.
But in the 11th month of maternity leave my office called and told me that they were restructuring the business and my job was officially redundant. I was devastated! After nearly a year of maternity leave our savings had been decimated, and with my three year old daughter and 11 month old twins as my main source of company, I had been looking forward to more adult interaction.
I moped around for a month or so – stuck in a sort of rut of extended maternity leave and half-hearted job hunting. The high cost of childcare limited my local job options, and the idea of commuting into London, like my husband, or going back to a my old life of international travel filled me with dread. One thing I did enjoy as a distraction was sewing reusable homewares for my family to reduce our household waste. And so the idea of selling my sewing started to play on my mind – But would anyone buy my products? Was I good enough? Would I actually be able to turn a profit?
In the end I thought “what the hell?” I set up an Etsy shop, listed a couple of reusable sandwich wraps I had made and miraculously made my first sale within a couple of days. With that initial win under my belt I listed more items, set up a Facebook and Instagram account and started to take things seriously.
I had no plan, winging it day by day – initially out of necessity rather than any driving ambition. What I’m saying is that you don’t need the perfect business plan or infinite time and resources to start up a business with potential. Sometimes you need shove and a bit of dumb luck.
And the cliches are true. I love being my own boss. I get a buzz with each new sale and I’m truly grateful for each and every customer – putting their trust in my products and helping me to provide for my babies. But everyday I struggle with the challenge of trying to fit sewing and marketing in around my children’s routines. I admit my babies are well acquainted with YouTube. Freezer food makes a regular appearance on the family menu. My phone is permanently glued to my hand (much to my family’s annoyance), and some days my sewing machine is whirring away long after my husband has gone to bed.
As the time goes on and my sales become more frequent I need to start being more focused and organised to maintain momentum and turn my business’s potential into a long term and meaningful profit. After all, a wing and a prayer will only take you so far. But I guess that’s a discussion for another blog post….