Thanks so much to the creative dynamo that is Joanne Dewberry for this inspiring guest post
Unless you’re mega rich or working in a full time job, funding your small business idea can be a real headache. For me and other budding mumpreneurs – and I’m thinking of full time mums with children at home under 5 – this can be make or break.
Now, I’m not saying I’m some sort of expert. I’m just a mum who took her dream a step forward to become a reality. Charlie Moo’s is a bit like my third child, growing around my family life, through customer feedback, the likes and dislikes of my children and my finances.
How I got started
So how did I get started?
Well, as crazy as it sounds, my initial idea came about while I was pregnant with Megan. Charlie had not long turned one and I’d been enjoying motherhood but was in need of brain stimulation. So what was my plan? I bought £56.65 of wooden fillers from a shopkeeping friend and sold them at school fêtes and village carnivals. ‘Daddy Moo’ and Charlie would come along and help me set up and then come back to help me pack up.
This was a good way to start for two reasons:
- To gage interest in the fillers
- To raise the money I needed to drive Charlie Moo’s forward
I was actually selling products at a carnival 2 weeks before my due date! Once Megan was born, in August 2008, I started working on my website. Well, what else do you do at 3am, when you’re up breastfeeding?
So now I had a website (www.charliemoos.co.uk) to start selling, but this kind of thing doesn’t happen over night! So I needed to keep doing local events. I’d take Megan with me, as newborns tend to sleep most of the day, and Charlie and Daddy Moo would enjoy some time together. But I still needed more money to invest in things like branding and my business identity.
In January last year, I replied to a media request from Take a Break magazine. It was all about people who’d changed careers after having children. Perfect for me! And I was paid £150, but more importantly national media coverage for Charlie Moo’s.
So, by now, I had a product, which was selling reasonably well; I had a website and a brand, but I needed to take it one step further.
So, I joined the Prince’s Trust Business Mentor Scheme – a four day intensive course by the end of which I’d gained a fabulous business mentor and support for 2 years. I also qualified for a £200 ‘will it work’ grant.
As Megan and Charlie Moo’s speed towards their second birthday I still haven’t needed to look for more investment. Sometimes I have to wait to pursue new ideas, as Charlie Moo’s funds itself, which I’m really proud of! I’ve not risked my family’s finances or taken out loans or anything.
So, I’m still growing Charlie Moo’s as a brand. I’m selling handmade bags and still enjoying the company of two small children every day. In a couple of years, when they’re both at school, I’ll have 6 child-free hours, 5 days a week. Watch out world…
Joanne Dewberry runs Charlie Moo (party bags, gifts and toys) from her home in rural Dorset. She also started Networking Mummies (Dorset) with Laura Morris of Rentabuggy.co.uk.
First published on Enterprise Nation on 18th June 2010