Your Name and Age: Cathy Belford, 28.
Tell us about your family: I am married with 2 young boys and we are based in Cheshire.
What did you do before coming up with your business? After graduating I began a career in recruitment. Once my eldest son arrived on the scene I decided to take the plunge and start my own business.
When did you launch? 2010.
How did you get started? I started my business plan on a beach whilst visiting my mum abroad! She loved having one-on-one time with my baby whilst it gave me time to put pen to paper and carry out my research. Back at home I took advantage of the free help through business link and a Manchester based business support agency which proved valuable for talking through my ideas and plans.
What research did you do before launching? I spent time reading and gaining knowledge of child development and the key learning stages of EYFS in order to provide a sound brand and message for my customers. I then attended various trade fairs and events to help create a shortlist of toys. On top of this I also did competitor research, market research, website research, marketing and advertising (including SEO Boise) and I clued up on all the necessary “admin” skills.
How have you funded the business? A small business loan and family investment.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best? Social media is ideal for updating customers on a regular basis, as are email newsletters. I also market the website when I have attended craft fairs and events and I am learning daily about SEO. I plan to create a blog and I also use press releases.
What has worked well about your business? That we have a simple yet strong brand – DiscoverMe is about educational toys that encourage learning through play coupled with a strong customer service. We receive great feedback from our customers on our website and we have also won a Gold Website Award from Mumpreneur UK.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it? I desperately need more time . . . and I haven’t found a way of dealing with this just yet! I have my 2 boys at home with me and (understandably) they like playtime and attention. They have a good routine so I can have at least an hour over lunch whilst they sleep and then it is evenings or weekends.
How do you fit in work with the family? I am fortunate that I have my family close by to call upon to help with the immediate family. It’s not easy at times, but we’re getting there.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area? Be organized in terms of everyday life and the business – it does help if you have planned what you’re doing the following day to make sure that all tasks are completed!