How to start a business – overview of the Business Plan

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be asked to asked to speak at the RBS conference for Women in Business about the story of Mama Tea and my experience of how to start a business.

RBS are being very proactive in addressing the issues of trying to get more females starting up businesses with this initiative. They have a network of Women in Business Ambassadors throughout the UK who are there to assist female entrepreneurs. Isn’t that fantastic? I believe they are rolling out this initiative on a much wider scale and I applaud it fully!

I spoke about how to start a business – looking at one of the first hurdles – the business plan. This is traditionally seen as a bit of a pain to do but really, it is YOUR plan of what you want your business to look like, not some template. Also, if you are thinking of starting a business, you really need to research your market, competition, pricing, product, USP’s very carefully! You should know the answers to all these questions; there are some great resources out there and a lot of them are FREE!!! Here in Edinburgh, I used the National Library of Scotland. They have a fantastic business resource centre, so you can look up all the business research reports and research competitors etc. Also, go and do some of the FREE courses at your local Business Gateway. They have access to over 200 videos, tutorials etc for you to use and the website is fantastic.

Start with your idea and break it down. Why is it unique? What are the Unique Selling Points (USP’s)? What does the Market look like? Is there a demand for your product or service? What can you sell it for – is there a good profit margin in the product or is it a high volume/low margin product? How will you market your product or services?

Other companies and banks also have resources that you can use for free – RBS has an excellent business planning tool – http://www.rbs.co.uk/business/banking/g2/planning.ashx

Over the next month, I am going to break down each part of the Business Plan into manageable chunks and include a checklist at the end of each blog, so that any aspiring female entrepreneurs can actually take practical steps to getting a great plan in place and then get going!

The Mama

4 ways to SEO your Linked-In profile

Here at Mama Tea, we use Linked-In as a valuable business networking tool to connect with herbal tea drinkers from all around the world. It is a fantastic tool and invaluable for global networking. As more and more brands are associated with the individuals behind them, it is imperative that you make sure that your individual profile stands out on this network.

Search operates in a similar way on Linked-In as it does to other search engines; optimising your profile helps to raise your profile to the top of the list. So, how do you do this? Below, I have outlined the 4 main steps to follow in order to give your profile a boost:

1. Research your KEYWORDS. Use Google Adwords to find the best keywords for your specialism/business/expertise. Then you have to litter your profile with these keywords. However, there is a skill to repeating these keywords whilst still writing an appealing profile. You should insert them in your Title, Summary, Experience, Skills and Expertise.

2. Fill out your FULL PROFILE. Linked-In rewards you for doing this by automatically taking you up the chain.

3. CONNECT with as many relevant people as you can. Again, Linked-In rewards those profiles with lots of connections.

4. Change the text on your main profile box headed “Websites” to your own ANCHOR TEXT instead of using the generic “company website”. Change it to the name of your actual website/blog/twitter account etc. Again, if you can get the keywords I mentioned earlier in here, great! If not, just make sure it is personalised for your actual website.

Good luck with it and hope it works for you!

The Mama

Five Top Demands for a Mamapreneur’s Wardrobe

Now that I am The Mamapreneur and a fully fledged *mumpreneur*/*mompreneur*, I have some basic needs. I no longer need clothing that offers a sleek transition from day-time office to evening wine-bar transition. I need a total metamorphisis from school gates to meetings with bank/lawyers/investors/business networking/office back to school gates again. Wine-bars no longer get a look in!

This got me thinking….what would be the top FIVE demands for such a working wardrobe:

1. SMART

Ok, so I need to look the part. This is the main part of the challenge. This outfit/uniform/suit needs to impress. However, traditional clothing that impresses is often of the booted-and-suited variety. As you know, this type of clothing is great but does not accommodate running through school gates, with laptop bag slung round your neck, school bag on your back and two wee ones in each hand. The traditional mummy clothing is more of a casual variety….for a reason!! Therefore, what I need is truly SMART clothing. Clothing that looks good but is adaptable. An outer protective layer perhaps? Combat fatigues that turn into sleek jumpsuit with the flick of a zip?

2. POWERFUL

I need to ooze power in my meetings. I need to look powerful and in control. I also need power…literally! I am hooked up to my iPhone 24/7. It is my mobile office. I can take calls, answer emails, review contracts all whilst waiting outside nursery. However, this magic little invention tends to run out charge way before I do. Therefore, I need a renewable outfit. I need solar panels fitted all over my back, like a glittery power pack. I then just plug my iPhone into my pocket and bingo! One fully charged office! At present, this would look insane and would be even heavier than my laptop, so I need someone to invent solar clothing.

3. WATERPROOF

I live in Scotland. It rains here. A lot. I also have curly hair. For the uninitiated of you out there, this spells damp frizz hair disaster which is not the best look when presenting to a group of investors. Therefore, my outfit needs to have some kind of seal skin waterproof element to it. With a hood. A sleek hood. Not like my current option. Shaking hands with my very sophisticated, dapper lawyer whilst swinging my quilted, hooded coat around my shoulders results in a slight rise of the eyebrow and me muttering about the rain as I scurry to the door. I need a more sophisticated option that still protects against the elements.

4. HIGH

I like high heels. I wore high heels constantly as a lawyer. I still really like wearing them. And I believe, they can make an outfit! They make me feel powerful and in control, so great for meetings. However, when running to get to nursery/school pick up in time, they are a pain. Literally. I need a pair of shoes that can convert from high to flat with a flick of my iPhone. Therefore, I want a convertible pair of shoes that are a bit Bond like (or is it Moneypenny?!) and will change according to need. And an app to do that would be nice too, please!

5. RESISTANT

This super duper outfit needs to be resistant….to everything! Silk is beautiful but is not toddler friendly! Sticky hands are a constant dilemma for any suit. This new suit needs to repel all sorts of paint/chocolate/jam/dirt/milk etc etc etc etc…………..this might be the most difficult part of all. Stain resistant material still looks pretty *sturdy*.

So, there you go! Any budding designers out there, this is my list! I am sure others could add to it. I am just looking forward to the day I get to wear it! 🙂

The Mamapreneur

x

Take your first step to success – execute!

Inspired by Inc’s article on execution, I thought I would scribble a few of my own musings on EXECUTION!! http://www.inc.com/ron-leshem/why-execution-not-ideas-will-bring-you-success.html

I have ideas all the time as do most people; ideas are like little sparkly particles buzzing around, waiting to be plucked out of thin air! It is so much fun musing about this invention or that one. However, fun is where they stay until you TAKE ACTION! What I say to you (as do Nike) is JUST DO IT. Jump, leap, open the door……take ONE STEP towards making your idea reality and it will start to happen. That first step is the most important one. It becomes easier and easier to take more steps.

I dreamt up the idea for a range of herbal teas that tasted good, looked good and helped with pregnancy and breastfeeding. It could have stayed there – hanging in the air. But I picked up the phone to a Master Tea Blender and took that vital first step. I then called one of the UK’s top Medical Herbalists and took my second step. They could have laughed at me but both liked the idea and then worked with me to develop the range. I am now managing an international supply chain and have supplied Waitrose, Tesco and Roche Pharmaceuticals. I am still taking small steps every day and am still scared a lot of the time. Being an entrepreneur is a roller coaster of a ride but I BELIEVE in myself and I BELIEVE in Mama Tea. That gives me power and fuels my persistence.

It all came from that first step.

Think, then DO. Then see what happens!

MAGIC!!