Your Name and Age: Rhys Davies, 21.
Tell us about your family I live with my partner Sarah and our 2 children; Ruby and Dylan.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea?
I left school around the age of 14 and started an online business. That business did mid five-figures in its first year, so I’ve always had a degree of success online.
When did you launch?
We launched around the beginning of 2012.
How did you get started?
We started initially by buying a small amount of stock of the best-selling jigsaw puzzle brand, Wasgij. We bought around £400’s worth of stock just to test out the water and see how they sold. It was quite surreal seeing 40 or so puzzle boxes stacked up in our living room.
What research did you do before launching?
We went against all business basics and didn’t really do any research. While brainstorming for niches to enter, we wrote down a list of products that aren’t seasonal and would sell really well during Christmas. Jigsaw puzzles were a logical product and we went with that. I wouldn’t normally recommend not doing research; it’s a vital point for most start-ups.
How have you funded the business?
Any business I start is self-funded. I’ve never borrowed or loaned money for business.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Promoting an ecommerce store is hard. PPC advertising is quite expensive and jigsaw puzzles don’t have an amazing mark-up. We’ve found the best way in our industry to get sales is word-of-mouth.
It’s amazing how one person’s good words about your business can equal 2 or 3 of their friends being influenced to purchase from you.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
For us, the biggest problem has been choosing what stock to buy. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different puzzles for sale by the manufactures. When you’re starting out it’s not viable to purchase all of them straight away.
The other problem is that jigsaw puzzles are essentially art and people buy a puzzle based on an image they like. It can be hard to decide what images people may or may not buy. There is no real way for us to deal with this apart from eventually stocking as many as we can.
How do you fit in work with the family?
Being self-employed and having an online business really lowers the barriers of work interfering with family. If something crops up with the family, I just drop what I’m doing and finish it off when the children have gone to bed. It makes things extremely flexible.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
It’s a perfect time to get into the ecommerce world. The industry as whole still hasn’t really developed fully yet which means the barriers to entry are getting easier than they already are. I give it 1-2 years and I think a lot more companies will allow people to drop ship their products, making it even easier to start your own online store.
Your website link: www.yourjigsawpuzzles.co.uk