CoziGo creator Emma Lovell’s light bulb moment was the outcome of flying and using an in-flight bassinet with a very distracted and overtired baby. She used masking tape and a sheet to try and create anin-flight canopy for her baby.
Emma also grew frustrated when the blanket covering her daughter’s pram would fly off, fall off or get pulled off. CoziGo – Sleep on the Go, was her solution to both of these problems and in 2014 she launched her universal stroller and airline bassinet sleep cover.
Emma appeared on Shark Tank and courageously won over investor Janine Allis from Boost Juice, and she openly admits the journey has been a rollercoaster of a ride from day one.
Here she shares her six top tips for small business success:
1. Got an idea? Research the heck out of it
So many people come up with great ideas and for most of them it will just stay that way – an idea!
The brave part is actually doing something to create that idea in to something real.
Be careful though, the world is a big place with many bright minds, so the first step is to make sure that it hasn’t already been thought of and isn’t already out in the market.
If your idea already exists, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dead in the water – you may just have to simply work out how to do it better than your competitors!
2. So you’ve decided to have a crack! Do you have the money?
You need to bear in mind that most start-ups don’t turn a profit for the first three years, so you need to work out a budget and see if you can afford to launch.
A lot of entrepreneurs continue to work in their full or part time job until they start to see income from their business. Carefully research all the set-up costs that are ahead of you – and be prepared to double it – there’s almost always something you forget!
3. Are there grants or loans that you can take advantage of?
There are many grants and loans that small businesses may qualify for. The deadlines and conditions are strict and if you get it wrong, you may be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars.
4. “Build it and they will come.” Yeah right – you need to market your business
So many start-ups make the mistake of ploughing everything they have in to getting off the ground and then have no funds to get the word out there!
You may have the best website around, but if there’s no one visiting, the cash register won’t be saying ca-ching!
Ensuring you have great SEO is a great first step, but even then doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make it to page one on Google, especially if you’re in a competitive market. And even if you do, you often have to wait for six months for the search engines to crawl your site – who can afford to waitsix months!
It’s absolutely imperative that people know about your great product or service so ensure you spend time and allocate funds to executing a kick-ass marketing plan.
5. Pitching – make it relevant and valuable to your audience
When you’re creating your pitch – remember it’s not about you. A great pitch thinks about your audience and concentrates solely on their needs and requirements.
If you do this, then you are more likely to resonate with them and spark their interest.
If you are product based and pitching for wholesale purposes, make sure you have thoroughly researched the market and you know the relevant margins and mark-ups that is expected in your industry or you might just blow your first impressions and lose your one opportunity.
Also – learn to be brave! Don’t be afraid to keep sending your pitch over and over, they may be interested, but just way too busy to reply. For this reason, it’s good to research potential buyer’s cycles so you can hit them with your pitch at the right time of year!
6. Be careful of paralysis and isolation
Most entrepreneurs start off working on their own and from home. Paralysis from either being overwhelmed or frightened is a huge risk to look out for.
If you find yourself in overwhelm mode – write a list of everything that has to be actioned and only concentrate on one thing at a time. Sometimes looking at the big picture can be just too much and to get yourself started again, you need to do some micro tasks!
Isolation can be another problem of the ‘solo-preneur’. Combat loneliness by joining business groups, relevant Facebook groups and perhaps finding a friend that also does it alone and agree to meet for lunch once a week. If you don’t have time for that, make it a meeting and help brainstorm each other’s issues to justify the time out.
Either way – you need to give yourself space to breath and think outside the box (sometimes, your box is quite literal – my first office had no window, no natural light and started to send me quite batty at times!)
Michael Hempseed is the managing director of Employee Solution Service. Visit www.ess.org.nz.