Want to show your appreciation for OOO? I bloody love a festive hot chocolate…
This week - because it’s Christmas, and Andrew Lincoln has led me to believe that at Christmas we tell the truth - I wondered if you would be kind enough to fill out a quick survey about OOO? Like most of you, I imagine, I’ll be spending January planning the year ahead, so it would be really helpful to know what’s working, what isn’t, and I also have some exciting (I hope!) expansion plans in there too. Sorry - I know several of the questions seem similar, but it’s the easiest way to really drill down into what would best serve you all - and I wasn’t prepared to spend £35 (!!!) on the fancy Survey Monkey package. Also - don’t worry, the newsletter itself isn’t going anywhere and will remain free. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.
Last week we heard from Anna - who doubled her income with her Facebook ads company. This week, it’s the turn of two more inspiring self-employed women, who managed to turn the chaos of 2020 to their advantage. I’ve asked for their top business tips so we can nab them for ourselves.
We doubled our income in 2020 - part two
Federica Trimarchi is the founder of the Mood Club, a company designed to improve good mental health, particularly through Mood Cards
“I set up the Mood Club two years ago after taking part in a start up accelerator scheme via Escape the City London. I spent 12 weeks testing the idea, building a website and seeing if it was of interest to people. My background is in the non-profit sector in mental health organisations, and I had a part-time job on the side as I set up my business. I went full-time at the start of the year.
“My first year philosophy was to build a lean start up – in other words, bootstrapping as much as possible! It was good at the beginning as it allowed me to test ideas. But actually, everything changed once I switched mentally. I spoke to a friend who said, ‘to make money you have to spend’, and I started investing a little more.
“I started investing in two ways: firstly on training, and putting money into my skills, learning things like how to do good adverts, which improved my revenue quite quickly.
“Secondly, I started outsourcing the sorts of jobs I could do myself, but where having someone do it professionally made a big change to my brand identity. For example, I had a photographer take pictures of my product – it was a small investment, although it felt huge! I also started investing more time, rather than money, into PR. I started pitching my product and my business idea to journalists, which then brought in traffic.
“My business is about helping people get into a positive mindset, so lockdown saw my revenue jump by 10 times. That meant I had to scale up quickly, as there was only a certain number of boxes of Mood Cards I could package in a day. I started using a fulfilment house (basically a warehouse company) to deal with packaging, so I could free up my time for PR, social media and speaking opportunities. It’s a big cost, but it allowed me to scale up.
“As a woman with a two-year-old child it’s been really difficult. Being self-employed has meant I can be flexible, but childcare fell predominantly on me. It means I have to set priorities and stay organised. I always have to keep in mind what my top priority is so it doesn’t get lost. On the other hand, in my first year I had more free time and feel like I accomplished so much less. Now I have less time, I have the energy and passion to make the most of a small window.
“Around 70% of sales come from individuals, and 30% from wholesalers and stockists – the cards are particularly popular for subscription boxes, and I’ve had more requests from corporations this year.
“I always say my business has been a series of small and big mistakes. You’ve got to test things, you can’t wait to have everything nailed down.
“Now I have more time I want to expand the range of cards and create sets for different people. I have a couple of big collaborations in the pipeline, and I want to develop some online courses around helping people into a positive mindset.”
Focus on who you follow
“I follow people on social media who share tips about pitching your business. I particularly like Lucy Werner who specialises in PR for small businesses and shares valuable insights. I’ve learnt lots from following people – everything from how to write an email pitch to the importance of having the right photographs ready.”
Join the right groups
“I’ve signed up to groups including Lightbulb [which is how we met one another!] and Boss Your PR, which are both paid but have been helpful. You can also use social media to look for #journorequest and sometimes find opportunities to get your product in the press.”
Deep Bajwa is the Director of Opulence Events London and runs a coaching group for women in the wedding industry
“I’ve got two businesses. I’ve been a wedding planner for 11 years, and early this year I’ve started work as a business coach for people in the wedding industry – which has basically saved me. It’s very niche, even within the industry – but niching is a clever thing to do. I help female wedding suppliers who want to scale up into the high-end market.
“The first wedding I ever worked on had a budget of £7,000, and I’m now working on weddings with £1m+ budgets. People watched my transition and would ask how I managed it. I started answering questions individually, but then I created a Facebook group and funnelled everyone into there to make it easier. I do Lives weekly, and answer questions. The group is free – and I give away a lot for free – and I also have a paid coaching scheme.
“People are scared of niching. But if you’re too wide, you’re put in different camps with different people. When you niche, you are the go-to expert for that one particular thing. Anyone who is looking for that one thing will find you.
“Coaching has been successful because people are prioritising education right now. I launched my first course in April – writing, teaching and managing – I was nearly broken by the end! I have a few different offers for people – the highest ticket is one-to-one coaching which I only offer to two people at a time. I then have courses with different prices and levels of support.
Learn more about this ‘tote bag’ approach here
“The idea is to work 50/50 across weddings and coaching – I’ll always run weddings, I love them and it’s how I stay relevant and understand the market. This year has taught me how much I miss events. The majority of us have built up our businesses from scratch, and it’s dire at the moment, but there’s always hope and creativity in the industry.
“I’ve been suggesting challenges on my Facebook group, asking people what they can offer to make money. My clients are clever – they’ve offered virtual wedding planning, and set up a group for brides. I was worried about launching in a pandemic – that it would seem insensitive, but my friends encouraged me, and the launch made £44,500 (I was expecting £15,000!)
“It was just me until three months ago, and I now have a small team of freelancers, so I can expand and contact my business as needed.”
“I truly believe there are always ways to make money – you’ve got to adapt, and ask ‘how do I serve my audience better?’ Talk to your audience, and find out what they want.”
Don’t worry about what other people are doing
“I don’t worry about other people building similar businesses. If someone else has something and you like it, you don’t want that exact thing – you want your own version. If you want to create a business, go and see if you can build it, but make it you.”
“I use Planoly to schedule posts once every month, which is a big time-saver.”
Thank you to Anna, Federica and Deep for sharing some fascinating insights into their success. Here’s to a profitable, low-stress 2021 for us all. (Please, Santa.)
Last week’s webinar about creating online products (memberships, newsletters, ‘printables’, etc) was brilliant - thanks to the incredible input of business strategy expert Joelle Byrne. My favourite takeaways include: why Pinterest is a secret marketing weapon; why you should sell a product before you build it; and a natty little way to avoid excess tax on digital products. I’m selling the recording (£10) so drop me an email if you missed out and would like to learn more.