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Setting up an E-commerce Business, We chat with Barry from Naughty B

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by Startacus Admin

Over the years we’ve interviewed hundreds of startup founders about their entrepreneurial journey, but none quite like this.Setting up an e-commerce business

Barry is the founder of Naughty B, a new Ladies fancy dress, lingerie and adult toy retailer; he is also a husband and father with a full time job in the RAF.

We caught up with him to find out more about this combination of industries, his e-commerce journey so far, striking the right balance between all of his responsibilities, and key advice he can pass on to other entrepreneurs looking to combine a full time career with an entrepreneurial passion.

Intrigued? This ought to be fun...

Barry - lets start with the obvious question. What has led you to start an online fancy dress / lingerie shop?

I have always wanted to start my own business and thought it would be great to start something that my family can get involved with and help run things and even take over from me at some point. I am constantly thinking of new ideas or products to sell. I did some research into what does and doesn’t sell, prices, profit margins and basic start up costs. Fancy dress seemed to be a good choice for me.Setting up an e-commerce business

Your full time job takes you all over the world with the RAF - so how are you planning to run a business, alongside your full time career?

After speaking to my suppliers about my situation, they suggested ‘dropshipping’. This basically means that if I’m not around to post the items to my customers, my suppliers will. This allows me to split my time between my busy full time job, family life and this venture. So as long as I have an internet connection, I can run Naughty B as if I were chat with Barry Connolly Naughty Bat home. At some point, my family will be involved helping me with the day to day running of the business. I aim to be at home in the UK as often as possible plus my website is set up in such a way, that the whole procedure from when a customers buys a product to when the product gets delivered, requires very little input from myself.

Tell us more about Naughty B - what do you think will set you aside from some of the more traditional online outlets such as Ann Summers?

Most other small businesses selling fancy dress and lingerie use a very basic, cheap looking website. I have used a UK based firm who build bespoke websites to your exact specifications and design. Their team of creators have built me a site which is unique, with the addition of loyalty and referral schemes which are unheard of with other small businesses. With regards to Ann Summers and the other big players, our aim is to offer something slightly different, higher quality when possible and a better customer relationship. We can afford to give our customers a more friendly and personal experience and offer great incentives. Our website is easy to use, has a strict no spam email promise, plus similar or better delivery and return policies. We appreciate that competing with these big companies will take years, investment and a lot of work, but it doesn’t stop us trying.Setting up an e-commerce business

We notice you're specifically targeting ladies lingerie, fancy dress and so on - any plans to develop a male range too?

Male fancy dress is becoming more popular, same goes for male sex toys. In the future we would like to add more and more products and ranges. We are always looking to evaluate how our products sell and try new things. It is definitely an option and something that we are looking into. Watch this space.

Talking more generally about starting an eCommerce business - where did you start when planning this latest business venture?

After a lot of research and basically writing your own business plan, decide if you are going to become a limited company or sole trader. Then move onto a business bank account. Decide how you will finance the venture, from savings, another venture or loan. You need to learn about tax in all its forms, VAT, National Insurance etc. Find yourself a supplier and a marketplace. Sites like eBay have both positive and negative factors to think about, or do you design your own website. There are plenty of ways to set up a business for very little money. Startacus always has offers to help you save money. Once you have decided all of this, its time to have a selling trial.

Setting up an e-commerce businessAny top tips you'd like to pass on to others, about to start a business, perhaps on the side of a full time job / career?

Selling a product whilst you are still in full time work gives you an edge straight away, as long as you are not relying on this extra income, you can sell items cheaper than your competitors. Dropshipping makes selling clothing easier and avoids massive start up costs. Selling online is the easiest option with regards to time management and can be the most professional. To compete with people who do this full time, you don’t need to sell different items, you can sell the same items, but better.

And finally, where would you like Naughty B to be in 12 months time?

In a year's time, we would like to be millionaires. No point in aiming low, but like we have already said, we appreciate that this will be extremely difficult and take a lot longer than 12 months to become successful. It will be great though to have a steady source of sales, be in profit and still be enjoying the job.

Thanks for the chat Barry - hats off to you for combining a career with your entrepreneurial drive, and of course good luck with Naughty B over the coming months.

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Published on: 19th January 2015

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