First of all congratulations to Mama Designs who are 10 years old this month! Starting your own business alongside having a family is such an achievement, to do so and reach the ‘decade milestone’ is monumental.

I’m sure, like me, you want to know how Kiera has managed it. Here she share here story:

  • Your business /brand will evolve over time.

  • What you want in the beginning might not be what you want in the end, or what you have. It will evolve.

  • As will you as you learn and grow. 11 years ago all I wanted was a flexible job that allowed me more time with my baby boy. Running Mamascarf as a sole trader gave me that. What I have ended up with in Mama Designs is entirely different and my business has grown and changed, as have I.

  • Things won’t always go to plan. Things often don’t.

  • I have learnt to always have a plan B, a worst case scenario. It makes it all feel easier as you are simply taking a different option. I have had launches delayed, been out of stock for key products for months.

  • Sometimes things are just beyond your control and you have to manage them as best you can.

  • You will become unemployable. After being my own boss for 10 years I could NEVER work for anyone else again. That is not to say that no one would employ me, running a business has given me new skills in areas I knew nothing about before.  It is more about me, I like working to my own timetable, my own agenda, I could definitely never go and do a 9-5 slog in an office again.

  • It’s ok to change your mind. Go with your gut instinct, if something feels right, you should not give up on it. If something feels wrong, it is ok to change your mind. I think people sometimes worry about what others will think, or that they have gone so far / spent so much that they should see it through.

  • Getting help is always a good idea even if it feels like you can’t afford it. The amount you will grow from having time to work on instead of in your business will astound you.

  • Surround yourself with positive people who support your goals. Friends, family, other business owners.  Let your goals and dreams inspire others around you.

  • Network. I hate traditional networking but have found that getting out to events, to shows, on courses helps to grow your network and meeting people face to face is so much more beneficial than online.

  • Find a way to describe your business that you are comfortable saying when people ask what you do. For years I struggled with this but definitely worth finding yours if you haven’t already.

  • Only do the things you are good at. At first you may have to do everything but this is not always the best way. Outsource and delegate the things that aren’t strengths (for me this was the accounts!)

  • Some things are worth investing in, design, website, packaging, Intellectual Property, yourself. 

  • It is a good idea to think beyond social media for your business.  I know a lot of people really suffered when the algorithms first changed as they were completely reliant on one platform eg Instagram or Facebook for their traffic / sales. What else could you be doing to grow your business? Think big!!!

  • Don’t be afraid to do things outside your comfort zone…. go after things that scare you.  Speaking at events, on stage, going on TV, radio. All were scary at first but so glad I did them.

  • Keep your team lean. A big team doesn’t necessarily equal a big successful business. Outsourcing is great as it minimises risk and you can scale up and down as you need. I have seen businesses have to lay off their team which is so hard or having sleepless nights worrying about making enough to pay everyone.

  • Investing in yourself is always a good investment business, learning/ courses, or mentoring is always a good investment.

  • Bigger isn’t always better (national retailers) whilst impressive on paper aren’t always the best for your business. 

  • Be yourself and be nice. I try to be a nice person. I always answer emails . I think being a nice person goes a long way in business and people remember it.

  • Create a business network of people who have your back, who are going through the same issues and who you can talk to about your business problems when the shit hits the fan.

  • Sometimes the easy way or the short cut is not the best way. It pays to do things properly.

  • You will make mistakes and you may learn the hard way. But these are learnings. One of my favourite quotes is that obstacles are detours in the right direction. I have learnt something from every mistake I have made.

  •  Big investments in print advertising rarely bring returns. I have tried all kinds of print advertising over the years and although sometimes difficult to quantify, have never seen a return.

  • Make sure you have a mobile friendly website. Most people will find you on their mobile phone. You need to ensure that your site is mobile friendly. Get someone to visit your website and try and navigate their way around it and feed back to you on how easy they found it.

  • Create content… blog posts, videos, write articles, images. Be a source of information, be useful, engage. Create beautiful images with yours and other brands products, chances are they will use the images too and grow your reach.

  • Word of mouth is powerful – positive feedback is worth a lot. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and then use it!!  Turn it into a post, a story, put it on your website, your newsletter.

  • Collaborate with brands who share a similar target audience. Brand introductions via newsletter or insta stories.  Shared leaflets with multiple brands on that go out with orders is a great quick and easy win.

  • Instagram and FB ads are the cheapest most effective form of advertising I have found. If you aren’t doing them  and you have something to sell (whether a product or service) you should be.

  • Before deciding to exhibit at a trade show visit first and make sure it’s a good fit. Trade shows are costly. Some are good, some not so. Visit first and find out. Speak to people exhibiting and see what they think.

  • When it comes to influencers bigger isn’t always better. Look for someone who is a good fit for your brand. I have had some great successes with micro influencers. The bigger an influencer, the chances are the less time they have.

  • Being organised will save you a huge amount of time. Ways I have found that work for me are to have a really good planner/diary with sections, tasks, priorities. I also use an A4 lined sectioned project book as my pad with repositionable dividers which means I can easily find my notes on a certain topic rather than trawling through weeks of notes.

  • A couple of years ago I discovered Audible. Now whenever I am driving,  travelling or walking I listen to a business audio book on my phone. I often re listen to the good ones and then later take notes that I can action.

  • If you don’t ask you don’t get. Sometimes it pays to ask people to like, comment and share including friends, family and followers. Not everyone realises how important it is so a little reminder every now and then never hurts! 

  • Enter awards – business and product awards. Awards are assets to your business. Most awards you have to pay to enter so do your research first and find ones that are the best fit for you. Business awards are more likely to be free to enter.

  • It is hard to switch off. I rarely fully switch off. I try and exercise regularly, get outside in the outdoors (without my phone! Ok I confess with my phone but not on my phone! ). I do school runs part of the week and  I work flexibly around my children, I try and spend more time during school holidays with them. I really try not to work at the weekends any more but the reality is you never really switch off. My best times are away on holiday, in the sunshine. A chance to recharge my batteries. I won’t lie, I still check in on my emails but this is definitely when I am at my happiest and most relaxed.

  • Know your figures even if it is not your thing. I  track my income daily. Even if you have someone else who is managing your finances it pays to know what is in the bank and how many orders you had that day.

  •  Comparing yourself??? Why??!!! Everyone’s journey is different!  Everyone’s business is different, their skills, their knowledge, their network, their location, their budget. Focus on how you can make your business great instead of looking at other people and comparing. I think a degree of competitiveness can be good if it spurs you on to do great things but not if it starts to eat away at you.

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