Hello all, I thought it might be a nice idea to document how I have gone about starting my business Alice Reins Ltd. I hope that in writing this that I might be able to help someone else who is in a similar position to me or in fact just wanting to start their own business and doesn’t really have a clue where to begin!
I mentioned in my previous blog that I posted a video of how Alice Reins worked, which I had made on my phone, to a horse group on Facebook. This was the catalyst for me starting my business simply due to the great interest that was shown in the first couple of hours.
First and foremost I researched the market. I looked up everything I could possibly think of on the internet to get an idea of the current market and if there were other similar products etc. This is very important to start with as you cannot start any business blind to the current market. So do your research!
My head was spinning at this point because I honestly did not have a clue where to begin and even if it would be possible for me to do this…me, a director? it just felt so mad! Also I had very little money so I thought that I would just start there as I guessed you would need some money to start with.
I started to trawl the internet to find out if there was any funding available for business start ups and there is. I found there is a lot of help for young entrepreneurs which is encouraging but being 48 years old, not so much. I wonder why that is? I eventually found MAS, The Manufacturing Advisory Service. I was over the moon when a I had a meeting with a lovely man called Rick Shouler from MAS, as Rick actually made it sound that my dream of starting this business could actually become reality and just by speaking with him gave me peace of mind I was doing the right thing. Not only that, he really liked Alice Reins.
I very much look forward to working with MAS on future projects as they provide you with invaluable advice with not only the manufacturing of your product but many other areas aswell. I cannot recommend them enough and especially Rick. I will always remember my first meeting because I was recovering from a hip replacement operation and had forgotten Rick was coming and answered the door to him in my dressing gown! How embarrassing, but, Rick took it all in his stride and made me feel quite normal?! 🙂 Little did I know that this was the start of me starting my business.
To receive funding of this kind I needed to appoint two consultants of my choice. I chose a marketing consultant called Michelle Jones of Ketchup Marketing, and Loven Patents & Trademarks Ltd. Rick Shouler referred me to these people as they have worked with them a lot and knew of their work ethic and also knew them on a personal level. Again it was my choice but I took Ricks advice as it seemed logical for me to do so. I’m glad I did as both these companies have given me sound advice going forward.
Michelle Jones of Ketchup Marketing is like a fairy god mother, she knew I had very little clue and has held my hand so to speak through all stages so far. She has literally taken all the worry away and made the journey so far very easy and always with a smile which makes you feel very much at ease, thank you Michelle :). Michelle and her team offer such a fantastic service and are extremely good at what they do.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Keith Loven of Loven Patents & Trademarks Ltd and Keith is a very honest, no nonsense kind of guy who tells it how it is. I loved that! Thank you Keith for pointing me in the right direction. I have spoken to Helen Hives also of Loven, and she has helped me enormously with questions left, right and centre and always very kind and knows her stuff. In fact the whole team are fantastic including Susan and Carrie…thank you 🙂 I found that it is beneficial to invest in a Patent and Trademark firm as they know all about the legalities of such things and believe me it is very complex!
I could have taken a different road and designed my own website and investigated patents and trademarks etc all by myself and so could anyone else. But for me, to receive funding and advice from Rick from MAS and to have professional and very knowledgeable people in the areas of marketing and trademarks/patents etc was the way forward for me and I don’t regret it one bit!
Next I needed to register my company with Companies House as this registration comes with an official company number and is used to create a Business Account for example and also MAS needed it too. Without it you would also be in a little trouble with the tax man! Start as you mean to go on…I then became a Director which was a really strange feeling but a happy one. I don’t think I have quite got my head around that one!
And so it continued. The next thing I needed to do was to find a leatherworker to make my reins which I did and I have two very good saddlers called Sally and Ellie. They are lovely people and I look forward to working with them. Very excited! 🙂
I wanted to have my logo embossed onto the leather too and as I had little funds, decided I would do this myself and have just the one stamp made by a lovely guy called Nick of Artisans. In order to emboss I needed a press which I successfully bought from ebay. This very heavy item currently sits on my kitchen table which I hope to move to my garden shed very soon. Where’s a man when you need one! I looked it up on youtube to find out how to emboss. So far I have had two samples made ready to show people.
The next thing was to find out how my reins could be distributed so I had a pair weighed and found out the postage etc. I will be using Royal Mail with signed deliveries to start with as this is the cheaper option. I have decided that I will wrap my reins for postage in my logo colours which will look smart and also keep costs down which is always a bonus. Michelle has designed a business card for me which looks fantastic and also a label for my packaging.
Well that’s where we are at the moment, the website is nearing completion, the business cards will be going to print soon too and I am both scared and excited all at the same time for the brand new launch of my company Alice Reins Ltd!