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How can I take my start-up from ‘home to high street’?

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by Startacus Admin

home based start-up
Natalie Lovett, Director of The Whitewed Directory chats about her business and how you can grow your start-up business from home.

Technology has given us greater flexibility over when, where and how we work, and has aided a rise in the number of people setting up their own business from home.

Getting your business in front of potential customers can seem daunting when you spend much of your day-to-day working life in the solitude of your garage, bedroom, or home office, but there are so many benefits to attending events and trade shows, or setting up your own pop-up shop.

Craig Pannozzo, general manager of marquee and gazebo supplier Gazeboshop has helped hundreds of start-ups and small businesses to raise their profile through events over the years.

Keen to understand the benefits of starting a home-based business and how other entrepreneurs have taken their companies to the next level, Craig asked people across the UK to get in touch with their inspirational stories. We’ll be sharing three of those interviews with you over the next three weeks, starting with NatalieNatalie Lovett Lovett, director of The Whitewed Directory

Hi Natalie, tell us about your business and when it was founded?

The Whitewed Directory was started in 2014 as an addition to my professional wedding and event planning business, Love to Plan Ltd. Love to Plan offers a high-quality event planning and management service to 10-12 clients a year.

Whitewed developed from a want and need to provide a professional platform for the wedding industry, for both wedding suppliers and engaged couples alike. A want to create a community where wedding suppliers can grow, share and move forward, and a need to develop a brand to cover our growing wedding show organisation services.

The Whitewed Directory offers a high-quality shop window, membership benefits and business support to local wedding businesses that want to grow, and in turn the directory offers local engaged couples a beautifully designed, visual planning aid which continually develops to remain enticing and in tune with market changes. 

Why did you decide to start your business from home? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

In the early days, it was a matter of cost and convenience...and also a novelty. I was lucky to have a study at home that worked beautifully for the first few years, my home is also in a good location in terms of my client-base, so visits were quick and easy too.

the whitewed directoryThe advantages were that there are no commutes, no office rent to pay and the convenience of having your life in one place.

The disadvantages were that I became tired of being at home and found that spending all day every day in the same four walls had a negative impact on me, it affected my productivity and led to a lot of procrastination – it was time to get an office!

How were the early days of your business? What was your biggest challenge? 

Exciting and challenging! Having never run a business, everything was a learning curve, but I soon became a master of all trades, however the biggest challenge is, and also has been, the ability to delegate and work on the business rather than in it, but this constantly improves as the business and my team grows. 

What have you done to raise awareness of your brand outside of the home?home based start-up

PR has played a very important part in the development and awareness of the brand, as have high-quality organised events, networking get togethers and hefty time spent on social media and the development and launch of a great website. 

How has your business grown since you started it?

When Love to Plan started in 2007, I organised and managed 2 weddings in the same year, one of which was for no fee, the other a very small fee. This has grown to the development and launch of a sister company, 5 freelance team members, personal standing in the industry and over 120 weddings, over 100 weddings shows under our belt and 165 wedding suppliers with us on our directory. 

What do you envisage for your brand over the next 12-24 months? 

To increase our Whitewed Directory approved members to 300 by this time next year, and 450 within 24 months, and increase our wedding shows from 25 per year to 40. 

Whitewed DirectoryWe also want to expand across the South of England and develop the brand further to be a recognised ‘go to’ for wedding suppliers and engaged couples alike. 

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to grow their home business? 

Always build in an office rent cost into your P&L to ensure it’s affordable.

Push yourself to continually develop your offering / service and ‘get out there’ in front of the right people constantly!

Know that business doesn’t land at your feet, it can take many years to gain the reputation you deserve, and once you’ve earned it, don’t take a step back – up your game even more!

Next time we’ll be sharing the story of two sisters and their friend, who set up Bubblegum Balloons three years ago. To read more interviews with entrepreneurs that have taken their business from ‘home to high street’, visit Gazeboshop.

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Published on: 23rd July 2018

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