Covid came along and hit a lot of industries hard. Not least, the hospitality industry. Owner and Director of Gift Her Gin, Louise had her own business in the stock auditing hospitality world that she has built from the ground up, after wanting to return to work after her children were in school, this was 15 years ago. Excuse the blurry photo here...
From March all her clients were forced to close and her income was halted with no predictions when it would come back. And that's essentially how Gift Her Gin was born into the world. It was something that she'd wanted to start for a while, but hey if a global pandemic isn't a prompt to start up what you've always wanted to, what can?
We want to help other people who want to start their own business, side hustle, or whatever it might be with a little inspo to get going from things we've learnt along the way. So, what have the last 4 months taught us about starting your own business? And what would we say to someone who wants to start one bringing one of their passions to life? There's so much we could talk about, but here are our top 4 to get you started...
1. Find your niche and check demand - Research!
The easiest way to find your niche? Write down all your passions and your skills. Not sure where to start? What do your friends and family come to you for help with? What do they see you as an expert in, but you just see it as normal? Remember things that come easy to you, or you know a lot about isn't necessarily the norm. Take Gift Her Gin for example...
Step 1; Louise has worked in the hospitality industry in bars and restaurants all over the country for over 15 years. She works with spirits and alcohol in her job every day... what made her choose gin? Firstly it's her favourite drink so naturally she knows more about them that your average person. Secondly, her professional experience meant she knows more about the business side of selling gin, for example the popular brands, the sensationalises, the pricing and more.
Step 2; Just gin in general is too much of a broad market and what's the direction of the business? Make her own gin maybe? No, not feasible. She paired Gin with gifting because of Covid. Like many people in the UK, she turned to google to find birthday presents instead of her local shopping centre and so coupled together; Gin and letterbox gifting; Gift Her Gin was founded.
Now, you can't just stop there, you need to research to see if there is demand for your product, and if there is a gap (you need a find balance here, because it's okay if there a similar ideas already out there) that's actually a good thing... why? Because it shows there is demand for it. You just need to make sure your idea/product/service has differentiating factors to make it unique. Use your life experience and skills to help with this.
Where to start the research? Go to a few consumer sites to check; Google, Pinterest or Amazon are our favs. Then, we would also recommend use key word research tools such as Moz or Neil Patel to see how often your 'keywords' or 'niche' is getting searched to check the demand from a non consumer facing platform.
2. Cost & profit projection - simple terms
Do your research into everything that it would take to get things started; e.g. website, accountant fees, licensing, insurance, platform fees, product costs (if product business) and then see your selling prices and see when you would start making profit. This can all be done in a simple excel document and it will take research and time to do this step; but we can't emphasise enough; DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. We know, it's a very boring thing to have to do, but completely necessary to see if you have a solid business proposition or not. For Gift Her Gin, we looked into what accounting fees we would have, there was licencing we needed, as well as COGs and suppliers.
We looked at UK and International suppliers, we also looked at what platforms we needed that were essential e.g. accounting software and then platforms that were nice to haves and went from there. We kept doing this process until we were happy that we could launch in a viable way, and that once we grow we have a list of additional investments we'd like to make life easier e.g. inventory management and shipping software. Great to have, but as we're starting from scratch, not essential.
3. Accountant Advise
Get advise from your personal circumstances to see what you'd like to do. We have invested in an accountant because this is such a critical part of business and we don't have those skills we knew the necessity to outsource this. For Gift Her Gin, some of the questions that we wanted answering to help us get started included; Limited company? Taxes? Addresses? Accounting Software? All of these had to be sorted before we could move on. Which leads us on to #4 where we talk about some of the wonderful programs we've found...
4. Online tools our top 3
We have various new platforms we've found since starting but keeping this short & sweet here's our top 3...
XERO - Accounting. This is a genius platform and means that we can manage the day to day invoicing and purchasing. It integrates with various other platforms such as banks and payment channels so that you can have a seamless experience. Less than £30 a month and it's easy to self teach through the tutorials. We feel 10 times more organised and on top of finances already.
Canva - The place of dreams for all us that aren't graphic designers. This easy to use platform has templates for any marketing asset you could possibly want. From designing your own logo, to social templates a plenty, to flyers and posters genuinely this is the platform that every small business owner needs. Less than £11 a month - get this today and save ££££ on design costs. It also can step up your presence on social media. Oh, and don't forget the huge library of free images to use too.
Squarespace - This is a 'build your own' website platform and with the templates that come with it, you can build your own very professional website without forking out lots for a web developer. No code knowledge needed and doesn't come with the higher cost point as Shopify; recommended if you're starting with scratch and don't want a higher monthly fee. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...we have gone with Wix but we are now finding issues with integrating it with platforms such as Royal Mail.
And there you have our top 4 pieces of advise if you want to start your own side hustle and not sure where to start. A lot of what we've learnt in self taught and we're by no means experts we just hope this will help even 1 person to be inspired! The biggest tip of all we have? Just start. Even if it's 15 minutes a day, that will build up. Google is a wonderful thing and once you start and overcome the challenges that are in the way by learning what's out there, you'll realise, like we did, you can bring your vision to life.
Love, Louise & Gift Her Gin Team x