So we're back with a new instalment of my blog interview series, where I chat with other 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!
This month I've been chatting with online retailer and silversmith Paul Townsend, who swapped working for an international airline for running his own male oriented gift store, For The Man I Love.
So how long have you had your business?
We started setting up For the Man I Love in 2012, and then began approaching web designers about writing the website, as it was quite complicated having many shops but one storefront, a bit like a department store.
Once we had sorted that it was early 2014. Then we had our first sale on our 25th Wedding Anniversary and haven't looked back!
Did you have any business background or experience before you started?
I worked for a large international airline running their rewards scheme, as well as on board duty free, so was used to retail. Plus I am a silversmith and have been selling successfully on Etsy for over 10 years. My wife (Claire) has worked in the retail and customer service industry her entire working life, so knows what people want and how to treat them.
What were the 3 most important things you invested in when you were starting out?
A great website, a decent laptop and some business cards!
Is there anything that you spent time/money on, that now with hindsight, you would do differently?
Yes – Google AdWords – for us (especially since we are international) it is a very expensive way of getting customers, and we soon stopped paying for this service and moved over to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc…
How did you get your first customers?
By having great social media with constant updates and occasional advertising, plus the inevitable word of mouth.
What tips do you have for starting a business whilst still in your 9 to 5?
Organisation! Put aside a day at the weekend, or certain evenings to kickstart your business, as the social media side especially is very time consuming. I can remember sitting on a sunbed in Thailand constantly on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter whilst everyone else was reading their favourite novel or asleep!
You can check out Paul's unique gifts at www.formanilove.com
So do you know anyone who would like to share their story and lessons learned from their early days in business? Then ask them to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org