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Up And Running: Your Business And Invention Questions Answered

Missed our Q&A with SnoozeShade’s Cara Sayer? Find her advice on the next steps when your business is up and running

We all have them. That spark of a wouldn’t-it-be-great-if-this-existed idea – especially when it comes to motherhood and things to make life with your baby easier. And for some, that spark becomes an actual business.

That’s why, as part of our Working Mums Club, we asked SnoozeShade inventor Cara Sayer to take part in a Q&A on being a parent entrepreneur and how to move forward with your invention. Missed it? Here’s what she had to say.

And click here for part one on turning your initial idea into a reality.

Q: How do you get maximum product exposure?

Cara: Well my background is marketing and PR and I am a firm believer that if people don't know about a product then how do they know to buy it. So you need to get out there with reviews from great bloggers, media coverage, etc. I'd suggest using someone else to do it if it's not your area of expertise as it's not easy.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter and other sites mean it's quite cheap to raise your profile, but make sure you do it consistently with your business's message. Get family and friends to spread the message, too.

Q: I’m currently running my company in conjunction with a very busy day job. At what point did you know you had to focus 100% on SnoozeShade?


Cara: I started the business with an 18 month old for whom I was solely responsible as my husband also worked. So I had to split my time between my daughter and the business, but I ended up still giving it 100%. I just worked late nights and around my daughter's life.

I'd say in this economic climate you have to give your business 100% or else I can't see how you'll stand out in a crowded marketplace.

But you also need to be realistic before chucking in a good day job. I'd advise really doing your research to ensure there's a good market for your product, and going to trade shows to get feedback from retailers to see if there are tweaks that need to be made or things you need to do to really get it flying.

But it takes a long time – I've been doing this for three years and it's still early days. There's no magic wand and you have to keep increasing turnover, which can be a challenge... but I do love it which helps.

Q: I launched my business in February and have just started actively trying to promote our maternity fitness clothing. Do you recommend Instagram?

Cara: Instagram is popular with parents as they love sharing pics of their child's lives. It's worth opening your account and seeing how you go. Ask customers to post pics of them in your clothing.

Pinterest is also good as you can also put in prices and direct to your website to sell.

Q: Can you give some advise on taking a brand to the bigger retailers on a larger scale?

Cara: You need to do the trade shows to meet the bigger retailers – Nursery Fair in Harrogate is at the end of March and is the big one for nursery.

Also there is a Toy Show in London, and various other shows where it's worth looking. Visit the show before you go and see if it's the right sort and talk to previous exhibitors about how they found it.

Q: Our company has just launched and, while we are seeing great interest, with only a small team at the moment, we are limited. Did you consider selling part of the company to raise funds and grow quicker?

Cara: It's a hard one for me. SnoozeShade is like another baby and so I couldn't sell it.

SnoozeShade is like another baby and so I couldn't sell it

It's mainly funded itself since I started but every now and then it's needed some cash.

I used my life savings to pay for the first run of product, but if I hadn't had that then maybe I'd have sold off some to raise capital. But I'd make sure you try and get someone to buy into it who can add value to the business in more than just cash so you get a cash and skill investment.

Q: I set up my car step just over a year ago and I am looking for distributors outside the UK. Where would I even begin looking?

Cara: You need to build a strong business with sales in your home market first before most distributors would talk to you. Once you do that then they tend to find you.

I'd also advise getting some solid experience of the industry in your own country before dealing with others – you learn a lot from it and it stops you making mistakes. Distributors always want an easy life and a product that will sell without them having to do much, so it's helpful to learn what works and what doesn't yourself. You can then pass this on to distributors.

You will also need to get things safety tested if you're going mainstream with big retailers, and to factor in a margin for a distributor in the UK, as most large retailers won't deal with small companies directly.

Q: I run a baby sleep service but would also love my own merchandise one day. Where would I start?

Cara: My starting point would be to think about what merchandise you are thinking of and why. Also do you need for it to be branded?

Or could you use products that are already out there and then just package it up as a bundle that you 'brand' as yours?

 
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