Case Studies

How to get your side hustle off the ground without giving up the day job.

Friday, February 16 at 12:33

Having worked for years as a freelance copywriter and sometime journalist, writing for and about small businesses, I’d always harboured a secret envy of my subjects—the people who took an idea and ran with it, to build something exciting. Perhaps no surprise, then, that I wanted to do the same, one day.
That day came last year. The idea for Badd Karma was as simple as combining my love for yoga and puns with a fascination for the rise of the slogan tee. My copywriting work provides my living, but I wanted to challenge myself to see what I could achieve if I dedicated just a few hours a week to nurturing a side hustle. Fast-forward a few months and Badd Karma is now a brand-new online store with four clothing micro-collections planned for 2018. It’s still early days—and far from being a source of income yet. But I’ve finally done what all of those brilliant entrepreneurs I write about have done, while holding down a day job and staying relatively sane. How? Here are my top tips:
1. Don’t skip the elevator pitch or testing your idea
You have a great side hustle idea. Before you go any further, you need to know that you’re onto something and that your idea is comprehensive enough to successfully pursue. Spend time nailing that elevator pitch so that you can test your idea out on... well, anyone you talk to. Listen for feedback and be prepared to act on it. 
2. Gather your support network
When you’re holding down a day job and nurturing a side hustle, you can’t do it all alone. Figure out what you don’t know how to do and ask friends, social and professional networks for advice and practical support. People are generally happy to help, so don’t be too shy or too proud to ask. I’ve had near-strangers doing me huge favours, simply because they believe in my idea.
3. Do a realistic audit of your available time for the next six months
It’s easy to overestimate what you can achieve—while underestimating social schedules, family commitments, illness and procrastination. Be realistic. Avoid overwhelm and exhaustion by setting boundaries for yourself. Initially, I ring-fenced 5 hours a week as side-hustle time (hello, focus!), then upped it anytime my flow of client work slowed down.
4. Get organised—and professional
It might be ‘just’ a side hustle, but you still need a plan. I went for two months with no business plan until someone I met at a networking event suggested I took my own idea more seriously. She was right. I wrote a plan, set goals and suddenly, my idea took on a life of its own.
5. Share your goals and plans
Verbally committing to something is a very powerful motivator. Equally, communicating your goals and plans with your employer or clients reassures them that you’re completely organised and remain committed to your everyday work. You may find yourself some new supporters for your venture as a result!
Kate Foster is a freelance copywriter and the founder of Badd Karma, a slogan-led yoga wear brand with a social conscience that celebrates diversity on the yoga mat and aims to empower every yogi in their practice. She lives in Somerset and has worked with small businesses since 2012 as a copywriter and marketing consultant. 
Instagram: @baddkarmashop
Facebook: @baddkarmashop

Shining a Light on the Success of Shearer Candles.

Tuesday, November 28 at 14:41

We love to hear Small Business success stories and how here in the UK independent businesses are growing from strength to strength. 
One of these great stories comes from Shearer Candles in Glasgow and here they share with us how Amazon has helped them expand their customer base online and reach brand new customers to introduce their amazing products to. 
About Shearer Candles Founded in 1897 by Mr Shearer and Mr Harvey on the outskirts of Glasgow, Shearer Candles is the UK's longest established lifestyle candle company. Messrs Shearer and Harvey had worked as chandlers in the Candleriggs district, historically the heart of candle making. At that time, customers still bought their ingredients before the candles were made to order.Over a century later, Shearer Candles prides itself on delivering high quality candles that contain only the finest ingredients. They're still a family business, but their customers today include leading retailers, hotels and restaurants, not to mention the candle lovers of all persuasions – who can’t help but fall for the beautifully crafted candle collections.

We caught up 2016 Small Biz 100 Lavolio!

Thursday, November 16 at 13:30

We love to check in and see how our Small Biz 100 are doing and today we caught up with Investment Banker turned Confectioner, Lavolio and learned how her business has grown from strength to strength. 
Lavinia Davolio set up her business selling luxury Italian confectionary in 2014 after leaving her job in finance. Lavolio’s own range of boutique confectionary products are handcrafted with 30 natural flavours including nuts, real fruit, chocolate and spices.
She initially started selling her range of boutique confectionary at local food markets, before selling online through Amazon Marketplace where her sales have grown by more than 100% each year.
Her products are now stocked on the marble shelves of Fortnum & Mason, and on the back of her success selling online she is about to open her first high-street store in London.
“The inspiration behind my business came to me when I was experimenting in the kitchen – a lightbulb moment when I thought that I could make chocolate products that are more interesting and more remarkable that what is already on the market. Amazon has helped to grow my business by building my brand and reaching new customers, meaning I can offer next day delivery and export to customers around the world.” 
Shop Lavolio Now! To watch the full video of her journey and inspiration here: 

KTD Surveying - Celebrating 5 years of business

Thursday, November 09 at 09:00

What have you learnt in the last 5 years 
So much!  Having never run a business before, everything from marketing to pricing to IT issues were all new to me.  I knew my specialist area but quickly had to learn so much more.  Having always thought I hated networking, I found that actually it is really enjoyable if you find the right groups for you.  I also learnt that it was really difficult to price my service, because my target clients didn’t even know the service I offered existed, so I had to jump that hurdle before they could even consider whether to go ahead or not.  Five years on, and I still find that aspect difficult, but it seems most small businesses I talk to feel the same way.
What are your goals for the next 5 years
At the moment I’m working on producing video guides and talks to be able to help more businesses cost effectively.  I’m also aiming to be the first port of call for businesses if they are thinking of taking on commercial property, before they even start negotiations.  This way they can be sure of an even better outcome.
What has been the single most helpful thing to you (advice, support, finance, etc) over your business life so far? 
 I think this would have to be the support I get from my co-working colleagues.  As a group of businesses we rent offices together, and being able to share resources and problems, and help each other out has been amazing.  Sharing offices has also meant we get to know each other’s businesses so can easily refer work between us which is an added bonus.  Plus we’ve got people to have the traditional Christmas party with!
Kirsty is the founder and a Director of KTD Surveying, a property consultancy specialising in landlord and tenant issues, advising on and negotiating all aspects of commercial property leases and rental valuations. 
In September 2012 Kirsty set up her practice and advises a range of businesses to make sure that surveying services are accessible to all, whether that is finding the first premises for a start-up company, negotiating service charge disputes for a residential developer, or negotiating rent reviews and lease renewals for office and retail tenants. 
An advocate for small businesses, Kirsty is a member of the steering committee for the Small Business Clinics rolled out by RICS, and joined the RICS East of England Board in 2014.  She is part of the pilot mentoring scheme run by RICS, where female surveyors in the UK mentor those in South Africa, and also attends careers fairs to highlight Chartered Surveying as an attractive option for those who may not have considered it. 

5 years of Film - Wild Film

Thursday, October 19 at 09:00

Wild Films turned 5 this year and we interviewed owner Leanne Gator about how far they have come and what they are looking forward to in the future. 
Turning five is a big deal for us. This year my partner Alex joined the business and it’s really started to take off - so all the hard work is paying off! My first hour long documentary, The Tigers Of Scotland, is due out this year too and we’re excited about where that might go and what opportunities it may present to our business in the next few years. 
What have you learnt in the last 5 years?
I’ve learned a good deal in the last five years. The biggest thing has been to accept that things take time to build up - especially in such a competitive industry as filmmaking. I’ve also spent the last five years specialising and developing niche skills which will stand me in far better stead than the jack-of-all approach I took when starting the business. I was taking on jobs as a commercial and events photographer, trying to make promotional films and making films about things that personally interested me, all at the same time - and it was tiring. It’s possible for some businesses to do that in filming and photography, but for us I think specialising helps a lot. 
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
As a wildlife filmmaker, I would of course LOVE to work on an Attenborough programme - who wouldn’t?! Alex is a cinematographer for fiction films and we hope the next five years follow the current trend of him gaining increasingly more work on feature films and high end commercials. Both of these goals for our careers would mean our business grows exponentially, which is ultimately always the goal.
What has been the single most helpful thing to you (advice, support, finance, etc) over your business life so far?
 I would say probably training. Continually improving our knowledge of our industry and the tools we use in it, but also improving our knowledge of how to run a business is what has been the most helpful thing. There’s always new camera equipment to familiarise ourselves with and new capabilities added to existing cameras, as well as new skills to develop, but there’s also trends in marketing and social media to keep on top of. I think sometimes people underestimate the value of training and development, but technology moves so fast that every business needs to keep on top of their training and development really.
Wild Films Specialises in Natural History shows and Cinematic Narrative/Drama productions, including outdoor, adventure and wildlife documentaries plus features, dramas and commercials. Wild Films provide cinematography services to the film and TV industries and is based in Cheshire, United Kingdom.

New Car Deals is 5 years old!

Thursday, October 05 at 09:00

Our second business that has turned 5 this year is New Car Deals - We spoke to Nancy and Paul Thorley who own the business.
- What does it means to be turning five?
It feels like a real milestone for New Car Deals to be turning five. Time has flown and it's great to look back from where we came from with a sense of achievement. We are excited to put into practice what we have learnt the last five years and see where the next five years can take us!
- What have you learnt in the last 5 years?We have learnt a lot about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses and how best to work together. I have learnt that the most important part of any business is good staff who feel part of the business and care about your customers. When you run a business you have to have the confidence to take risks, even if they don't always pay off. You also can never plan too much, have too many spreadsheets or write too many lists!- What are your goals for the next 5 years?We plan to expand our van business and introduce specialised commercial vehicles.We have an exciting new website and rebrand in the pipeline which will go hand in hand with further growth of our team and a move to larger offices.With the increase in personal leasing and customer awareness we plan to open a few small easily accessible and visible agent style shops/offices with a focus on personal leasing and interactively advertising our service, which can save people lots of money compared to walking into a local dealer. Whilst more and more people are confident dealing with high ticket purchases online and over the phone, there are always people who feel more comfortable putting a face to a business they are trusting with such an important purchase as their car.There are lots of exciting things to come!- What has been the single most helpful thing to you (advice, support, finance, etc) over your business life so far?This has to be the importance of finding and keeping great staff who are loyal to your business. Obviously this costs you more money and time, but the rewards you get are tenfold. Staff who feel appreciated work harder and stay with you longer, retaining experience and training, and most importantly provide a continuous and reliable service to your customers.
New Car Deals is a family run business, based in Horbury, close to the city of Wakefield in West Yorkshire. They offer a very friendly, efficient and professional service to their clients and take great pride in looking after all of their clients both before, during and after any sale. 

Our first 5 year old Business is.... Tillycroy Support Services!

Thursday, September 21 at 09:38

We interviewed 5 businesses that were turning 5 this year and asked them all about their businesses, first up we have Tillycroy Support Services. 
1.      What it means to be turning five:We have a huge pride in what we have achieved over the last five years. Within this time the North East of Scotland has been very badly hit by the downturn of the oil and gas industry. However, despite this Tillycroy Support Services have continue to grow and expand within on specialised area.2.     What we have learnt in the last five years:We believe in hard work and integrity while having a high regard for the people that we meet and work with.Over the last five years we have discovered that by building trustful business relationships has added to us maintained our customer base while also securing new clients.We aim to deliver the type of service that we expect to enjoy from our own suppliers.You always need to set yourself targets, both short and long-term which helps to keep you focused and determined on the job in hand.            3.     What our goals are for the next five years:We now have strong foundations in place which will in turn will help in our long-term ambition to grow the business.We have already moved into expanding our course offering and now include Canine First Aid which has been a huge success.In 2016, we started to win work within the Republic of Ireland and have contracts with three major clients.This is an important area for us and we are looking to expand our customer base, while sticking to our core values of fully accredited training, customer service and quality.4.     The single most helpful thing to us:     Stop and listen to advice.Make sure that anything that you are going to do within the business is not only right for it but for you and your family as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it is not sign of weakness but strength.
Tillycroy Support Services are a training organisation based in the North East of Scotland.They specialise in Fork Lift Training and Re-assessments; Accredited First Aid; AED Awareness; Health and Safety; Industrial Skills Training; Workplace MAC & DSE Assessments; Face Fit Testing. 
[email protected]"Tillycroy Support Services, Training For The Workplace"

Rose and Olive increase sales and bookings!

Friday, June 30 at 18:30

"As one of the chosen businesses for the Small Biz 100 in 2016, we took our festive pop up vintage tearoom to the reopening of Gravesend Borough Market, served tea and cake to the Mayor and had a near cake sell out. We also ran a special offer with 25% off which gained us some more bookings for 2017. All in all we had a great day!"Claire Hearn, co-founder of Rose and Olive. Rose and Olive is a vintage tearoom who also host vintage tea parties. Both former Police Officers in London, we swapped our cuffs for cakes to follow our dreams and haven't looked back.

Stripes Fashion connects with customers

Thursday, June 29 at 18:30

"We encouraged local shoppers to shop at independents this Small Business Saturday by giving away festive gifts to tie in with our 12 Days of Christmas window. With each purchase of clothing or beauty treatments in store or online, customers were given wrapped complimentary festive gifts, ranging from complimentary one-hour manicures to beauty packages, make-up and jewellery. Small Business Saturday enabled us to start a dialogue with customers, thank them for their loyalty and to encourage them to support other independent businesses in the city."Claire Wright, Stripes Fashion. Since opening in 2004, Stripes has become a destination store for women who love fashion. We are a family business with a passion for creating an inspiring boutique that is totally unique and offers a beautiful shopping environment, knowledgeable sales team and a fresh selection of clothing and accessories. We are proud of our products and take great care in traveling all over Europe to bring new collections to you.

Cakes with Faces promotes the Small Business Saturday message

Wednesday, June 28 at 18:30

"I gave my customers free Christmas cards with orders from Cakes with Faces on Small Business Saturday as a thank you. I design cute T-shirts and gifts, and was part of the first UK Small Business Saturday 100. For me, promoting the Small Business Saturday message is more important than sales on the day itself, because what we want is support and appreciation for small businesses the whole year round." Amy Crabtree, founder of Cakes with Faces is a graphic artist/designer. Cakes with Faces are a brand of cute and colourful t-shirts and gifts, all with her original designs, which she sells online.