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How I started my maternity clothes business

September 13, 2010 by Louise Boyes

Claire Keogh, Bethany Clydesdale and Louise Boyes at the North East Baby, Toddler and Maternity Roadshow in July 20109 June 2009 will always be a memorable date for me.  It was the day I decided to leave behind a 13-year career as a human resources manager, not to mention a good salary, to ‘go it alone’.  Scary.

When you look in the mirror every morning and dread the day at work that lies ahead it really is time to consider other options. I’d procrastinated for far too long about starting my own business – I could kick myself for not doing it before I reached 40.

A friend and I spent considerable time researching what sold and what didn’t on eBay. We carried out so much research we became more confused than when we had started. I felt as if I was wasting time, while my savings were dwindling. There wasn’t an additional household income, so I needed to get my backside into gear quickly. My friend and I were moving at different speeds and in different directions, so I had to have that conversation, but it was important to retain our friendship.

I decided to concentrate on maternity clothes, accessories and gifts. In the planning stages I decided I would still use eBay to sell my products and I hadn’t even considered having my own dedicated website. It became apparent very early on that operating my business on eBay was not viable. The cost, in my opinion, is too high. More importantly, the suppliers I wanted to work with wouldn’t sell wholesale to me if was using eBay as a sales platform. The concept of Global Maternity was born.

Why maternity clothes? Firstly, I love how pregnant women look. I’ve been there before (albeit 13 years ago) and the clothes available for pregnant women now are great quality and look beautiful, too. Secondly, the initial financial outlay to launch my business was going to be significantly less than if I opened a general women’s fashion store.

My website (www.globalmaternity.com) went live on 1 February 2010. Selecting and buying the stock was enjoyable, but tough. I wanted one of everything, but knew I didn’t have the budget. It would be so easy to get carried away, but I had to stop myself a couple of times. Delivering exceptional customer service is my absolute passion, no matter what I am doing. It’s what I did as a human resources manager and it’s what I do with my business.

It’s been a huge learning curve and still is. Global Maternity isn’t where I want it to be and I have so many plans, but I’m realistic enough to know it will take time. Above all else, I’m enjoying myself and will never give up.

Louise Boyes, Global Maternity

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Blogging your way to more business

September 07, 2010 by danihiggi

Without a doubt, contributing to a blog requires commitment and time if it is to produce effective results. However, making use of blogs is an easy, fast, inexpensive and effective publishing tool to spread the word about a new business, generate customers and increase prospects. 

Blogs are corporate tools that allow businesses to communicate with the public to provide information about products and services being provided. To be effective as an advertising tool, the blog should be linked to the company website and provide relevant web content about the company’s products to attract prospective customers. To grow a blog, it should be updated consistently in order to include new and ongoing entries. Investing in blog advertising is a rewarding endeavour but it needs to be sustained in the long term.

Blogs provide the following four key benefits when promoting a business:

1 An effective platform for content marketing

Content marketing is a method of promotion designed to attract customers by providing valuable content about the business, products and services that it offers. Rather than being a brazen and overt marketing strategy, content marketing takes the form of publishing content that delivers information through important articles, press releases and news feeds. This approach treats established and potential customers as intelligent individuals. Content marketing provides accurate, honest and relevant information that consumers need to know before purchasing products and services. There is no better place for content marketing than on a blog.

Selecting and streamlining news feeds from credible industry news sources and linking them to blogs will keep interested readers returning to blog pages on a regular basis. It also prompts viewers to return to the blog for news updates which secures repeat viewers and potential customers. It is best to integrate a credible news feed with other non-competitive website links which subtly promote and advertise the business. Adding neutral, industry relevant, and credible news feeds and web content allows the business to present itself as a knowledgeable and accurate source of information in its respective market.

2 Low-cost advertising methods

Setting up a blog on Wordpress, Gizmodo, and Compendium is a free alternative to having actual web presence. Blogs can be linked to other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, to attract potential clients. Blogs provide an effective way for small businesses to share their expertise and offer press releases in a larger market to bigger audiences. They are user-friendly tools especially for business owners who know little about HTML.

3 Input from customers

Setting up blogs with opportunities to moderate and answer questions and comments from clients presents a human face of an enterprise and allows a business to speak directly with clients and address their concerns. No company can expect to be an industry leader without an authentic and ongoing interaction with its customers.

4 Search engine magnet

Blogs are search engine magnets, directing not only curious bloggers to business landing pages, but also regular and targeted traffic from Google searches. Search engines crawl content and keyword rich blog sites, bringing the blog (and business landing page) closer to the top of page ranks.

When composing blogs, be sure to make your contact information clear and make navigation easy to help convert views to sales.

Dani Higginson, Purecontent

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I have become (un)comfortably numb

August 31, 2010 by www.inafishbowl.com

I enjoyed reading the article written by Marty Zwilling about the personality traits of an entrepreneur.

In his article, he describes the personality of the entrepreneur to be:

  • visionary
  • creative AND logical
  • energised by risk
  • eager to listen to the input of others
  • motivated
  • Jack of all trades
  • and most important of all, enjoying the journey.

I enjoyed the article because I can see that I have all of these. I have a strong vision of what my sector can be in years to come and I would love to be an important player within it.

I am eager to listen to the input of others, and inafishbowl.com has been an amazing experience. I have had some really useful advice from experts on the expert panel, and more recently from Imran Hakim and Iain Scott whose blogs reassure me that I was right to postpone the launch of Rico Mexican Kitchen in a major supermarket chain – thanks guys! I’ve also learned so much from my fellow Fishbowlers and I’m quietly jealous (in the best possible way, of course!) of Owain and Dom’s partnership, and that they can rely on each other to share the tasks.

However, if I’m honest, I’m feeling kind of numb and somehow not enjoying the journey as much just at this point. I have had some highs, but the low of finding that I have to be on such very tight budget is getting me down. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m tired? Maybe I just need a few days off.

Well, I had to be up today at 3:30 so I could greet the distributor who was taking my very first orders of our brand new product, TAMALES to some really funky restaurants in London. I should be really excited, I know it’s a day I will remember in years to come, but instead, I feel numb. I just keep saying to myself that I need to be patient, as success will come with perseverance, resilience, and not before a long list of failures which one learns from. I’m in it for the long haul!

You can find out more about Marcela on the interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com

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The IT Donut is born

August 26, 2010 by John McGarvey

IT business advice

After a lot of hard work, more than a few donuts consumed, and assistance from a whole bunch of helpful experts, we're really pleased to announce that the IT Donut has launched.

We're really excited about getting our new site out in the world, so head on over to http://www.itdonut.co.uk to get your fix of IT advice and information for small businesses.

What do you think?

To use a bit of IT jargon, the IT Donut is currently version 1.0. We're pleased with it, but we're still looking for feedback and help so we can make it even better.

If you have any comments on the information the site contains, or how it looks and functions, send a quick email to info@itdonut.co.uk. Alternatively, leave a comment on the website to tell us what you think.

Be one of our experts

We're also working hard to expand the information on the IT Donut. To do this, we're recruiting IT experts to help us.

If you're knowledgeable about any area of IT, we'd love to hear from you. Again, just send an email to info@itdonut.co.uk and we'll see how we can get you involved. In return you'll get exposure on the site, plus the warm feeling that comes from knowing you've helped out lots of small businesses.

John McGarvey, IT Donut editor

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