How to set up a successful sideline business

By: Guest contributor

Date: 13 March 2013

How to set up a successful sideline business/Charlotte D{{}}When two young mums with blossoming careers in law decided to take a furniture painting class, little did they know within a year their hobby would be a successful business called Lovely Things.

However, after friends and family expressed interest in their up-cycled pieces, Charlotte Dennison (pictured, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service) and Charlotte Smith (a legal assistant for Ryedale Council), both 32, decided to showcase their products at a local market, and the pieces were quickly snapped up by local stores. The Charlottes also now sell their goods on Ebay and Facebook.

Here the pair from North Yorkshire share their tips on how to run a sideline business.

On support from family and friends

Charlotte D: “When we started Lovely Things I was on maternity leave, looking after a three-year-old and a four-month-old. Charlotte Smith was back at uni as a mature student and looking after a 10-year-old.

“Luckily my husband is a policeman who works shifts and my in-laws live locally and Charlotte Smith’s parents help her out. There is no way we would be able to run our business without them, because we just couldn’t afford childcare.”

On teamwork and communication

Charlotte D: “We split the big jobs in half. For example, if we’re decorating a table and chairs, Charlotte (S) will do the first bit and I will do the second bit. This way no job is too big, and we don’t get bored half way through!”

On keeping overheads low

Charlotte S: “As we’re still in the very early days, we keep our own books and our overheads are low. We don’t have fixed prices for our items and encourage customers to make offers.

“We did consider getting our own website produced, but because we could use Facebook, Twitter and Ebay for free, it was hard to justify the additional cost.”

On flexible working

Charlotte S: “Being able to work in the evening and weekends allows us to fit Lovely Things around our family and work lives.”

On believing in your products

Charlotte D: “If I could go back to last year, one thing I would change is I’d have more belief in our products earlier on. We were too nervous to go and rent a market stall to begin with because we were worried no one would be interested in our products.

“But it turned out to be the best thing we did, because it was at a market that we got talking to the owner of a local interior design business, who offered us space in her shop for our things. You just need to speak to everyone, because you never know who you are talking to and you really need to shout about your business. You have to believe in yourself, your business and its products.”

This guest post has been provided by Lima Curtis writing on behalf of ExpertMarket

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