Hi everyone lots of comings and goings here at Daisy Hill Farm, my son and I survived our ski trip (minus snow) but since I have arrived back things have got very busy so I thought I would post a little update before the next month slips by.
I mentioned in my last blog that I felt in more of a position to apply for funding and competitions and so a couple of months ago I entered the Retail Factor Competition. It has been run for a few years now with successess for both "The Mall" and the contestents taking part. It gives new businesses the opportunity to win up to three weeks free trading in a Mall and is a fantastic opportunity for new businesses to get further exposure and to test their products/shops in a real shopping environment.
The Mall is one of the largest shopping outlets in the UK and is managed by the Mall Corporation. Blackburn Mall (the one that I entered) is large,bright and provides shoppers with a great shopping experience both in the variety of shops available and in the quality of the goods and services, with an engaging atmosphere and interaction with the local community.
They also have partners involved in the competition and this year Ingenious Britain , a business advice hub and supporter of small business and StartUp Loans a government backed scheme to help entreprenuers with loans, mentoring and support are the supporters.
So after receiving the news that I was through the first stage and had to go and present to a panel of judges off I went in trepidation to do my first ever presentation. I was excited and very nervous but I went through everything I wanted to get across and practised to whoever would listen (mostly myself and my poor family and friends!) and was absolutely thrilled to have made it through to the second stage ( I actually did a little dance of pure joy when I got the phone call saying I had made it through!). This year the Mall have chosen four businesses and we are going to trade for free in a pop-up shop for three weeks. So although I dont have to physically make my product like some of the other businesses (thank goodness they must be demented) there is still a lot to think about and prepare ahead of time.
Thinking about how to best present the product is vitally important as we live in such a visual society and customers are so used to seeing slick presentation and high quality visuals, packaging and marketing play a huge part. Anyway I found some wonderful racks in IKEA they were just what I wanted and as I had already decided on the look for up coming trade shows so I have killed two birds with one stone as the saying goes and purchased those. Everything else I have been refining over the last six months but I still needed to pull it all together and if this has done anything it has made me consider a much tighter look without too much hassle. I found on retrospect that I was trying to be all things and so the logo, gift wrapping, business cards and image now seem sleeker and more connected. I have also purchased a few other products to see if they sell well along my keyrings.
I do feel both nervous and excited at the opportunities that this situation could present and hope I can rise to the challenge although it will personally be hard work as I will be trading in The Mall seven days a week and then going to my work in the evenings and weekends at Tesco straight from there.
However this is an opporunity to good to miss and I will be giving it my best. As an entreprenuer with a new product it is extremely hard to get noticed and I get butterflies thinking about what is actually riding on this. It was thinking about this when I came up with the title Winning & Losing, on one hand I have won this opportunity but may lose the next stage then within the loss there is still gain from the experience itself, the valuable knowldege gained without the fear of debt and the opportunity to meet more customers, other business people and the chance to grow in confidence.
It is the same every Sunday, Theo Pathitis runs a competition on Twitter called #SBS or Small Business Sunday, each week Theo rewards small businesses that tweet him, he chooses six (probaby out of thousands) and having such a large following it presents a massive boost for the chosen businesses. The lucky winners then become part of quite a sought after club, sharing ideas and promoting their business leading to larger following and more sales.
So every week I enter and I await eagerly on Monday evening to see if I get a retweet (unfortunately I have not had one yet!) you feel the rush of adrenalin that you might win but then the disappointment of the losing but again within the fact that you haven't won you do gain, interaction with everyone else entering, new followers, support from previous winners so do you win or lose?
Business is hard and sometimes you feel that you are only as good as your last sale, competition win or loss but for all the hard work I would not change what I am doing. It has opened doors and presented challenges that I may never have had the chance to even try and so I finish this blog on a quote
Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home.