Welcome to a new instalment of my blog interview series, where I chat with fledgling freedom-preneurs about their first baby steps in business.
By sharing their stories, warts and all, the aim is to help you find more clarity as you start out on your own business journey, get inspired, and see that all entrepreneurs have to start somewhere!
So this month I've been chatting with paper goods designer Lola Hoad, who swapped graphic design for starting her own design studio and business coaching.
How long have you had your business?
I started LH design, my paper goods company, in May 2014 after a redundancy from a graphic design job. One Girl Band, the collective I run for female entrepreneurs and creatives, started in June 2015.
Did you have any business background or experience before you started?
Definitely not! I was 19 when I first started, with just a few GCSEs and a half-done Photography BTEC to my name. I'm almost completely self-taught, apart from expertise I've picked up from previous jobs and from my parents, who are also self-employed.
What were the 3 most important things you invested in when you were starting out?
Being 100% honest, I was silly when I first started out. I had the wrong mindset when it came to money, and it resulted in me not investing in as much as I could've. The first major investment I took out was getting my paper goods printed with local printers, rather than just through my trusty inkjet! Last year, I hired a business + mindset coach (who I wish I had to hand sooner) and finally did my dream run of gold foil notebooks.
Is there anything that you spent time/money on, that now with hindsight, you would do differently?
If I knew then what I know now, I would've hired a coach and invested in my products a lot sooner. Perhaps I would've invested in One Girl Band right from the beginning too, but I quite like how organically it's grown.
How did you get your first customers?
With LH design, my first customers were either from Etsy (so lots of promoting and building up my brand on social media) or via wholesale. I would email shops I liked and thought were in line with my brand's values and ask if they'd like a sample pack of cards to try out. The wholesale side of LH design is now the biggest side, and that wouldn't have happened if I didn't focus on it as early as I did. With One Girl Band, I got my first coaching clients by, again, building up my brand and expertise field value on social media, as well as offering free clarity calls.
What tips do you have for starting a business whilst still in your 9 to 5?
Just get started! The oldest trick in the book. If you feel you don't have enough time to do everything you need to do, you definitely won't get it done if you just give up. We all have the same amount of hours in the day, the month, the year. It's all about how we use them; with purpose, clarity and intent.
You can check out Lola's gorgeous designs at www.lolahoaddesign.co.uk
So do you know anyone who is in the early stages of their biz, and would like to share their story and lessons learned? Then ask them to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org