By Hazel Reynolds, CEO and co-founder of Gamely
Could your family inspire you to set up your own business? The inspiration for my business was drawn from my family time, and more particularly, from a wish to spend more quality time with my younger sister. We were both at very different stages in our lives, and playing games was something that really brought us together. I came up with a new game for us, ‘Randomise’ and this was the first step towards Gamely being born. I never would have thought that a precious family moment could lead to where we are now, doing a job I love and recently winning the first ever award for Amazon’s Small Business of the Year.
Randomise is now Gamely’s flagship product – a comical fusion of Charades, Articulate and Pictionary which the whole family can partake in. I have since launched several new games, for instance Soundiculous and Frozen Unicorns, each designed with my family and friends in mind. Your family and friends can truly be your best inspiration; whether you wish to create a business or a product, if you design it for the people you cherish, to bring them joy, then should it become something commercially successful, that is a great bonus.
In 2016, with the encouragement from my husband Chris, who is now our Creative Director and co-founder, I decided to quit my job to start my own business. I put Randomise on Kickstarter and managed to raise enough money, in three weeks, to start manufacturing in time for Christmas. Another key milestone was being accepted onto the Amazon Launchpad scheme for start-ups, which provided us with incredible visibility, and meant that by Christmas 2016, Randomise had made its mark as one of the top 10 best-selling card games on Amazon. Four years on and we’ve now sold more than 100,000 games.
There’s no way we’d be where we are now with out the help of so many other people along the way. So if you are setting up something new, do make the most of other people’s expertise and support, from formal business accelerator programmes, to friendly entrepreneur mentors or networks – and of course friends and family massively help (although be aware they aren’t always as candid in feedback as you might need!). For us, groups such as Entrepreneurial Spark and Kings 20 have provided inspiration and support for our strategic direction, while logistical support from the Fulfilment by Amazon service helps takes care of customer service, packaging and returns – all of which is crucial in helping us to maintain our work/life balance, particularly with young children.
We also find it really helpful to keep some separation between your home and the office, enabling a certain detachment to focus on work, and then to allocate some proper family time where you aren’t constantly checking your emails and getting distracted. Working alongside a partner brings benefits and challenges in this respect – in my situation, as my children are at nursery four mornings a week, Chris and I can both work together in the mornings and then take it in turns to work in the afternoons. The business currently employs two other part-time working parents, who are each endeavouring to reach their ideal work/ life balance, so this works well.
For Chris and me, family time is one of our top priorities and this is why we try to have a three-day weekend each week to enjoy this precious time with our children. I found out I was pregnant with my first child the day after I set up my company, which wasn’t without challenges, but the greatest benefit of running my own business has been the flexibility to spend more time with my children.
There are of course challenges along the way, but from what I’ve learnt so far while setting up Gamely, my ‘top three tips’ would be:
- Firstly, work out what success means to you. This is useful for everyone starting a company. Have a serious talk between partners – whether that’s your business partner or romantic partner – and see what success looks like for you both. Today we are often taught by society that success is having the largest company that makes the most money. To me, the most important focus is to really think about what you want your day to day life to look like. Of course, you want to be able to support your family, and give them the opportunities and lifestyle that they want, but for me and my husband, success is being able to spend each day the way that we want to. Bringing joy not only to us, but to our family, and the society we live in. Always ask yourself, why am I running this business and what do I ultimately want to achieve?
- Secondly, ruthlessly prioritise. According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of results come from 20% of the work that you do. It is very easy to be busy, and there will always be a million and one things which perhaps you could be doing to grow a business, but it is all about identifying the details which are going to make the biggest difference, in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes you can spend more time planning the task than doing it.
- Thirdly, communicate constantly. This goes both for those who wish to start up a business with their other halves, but also for anyone starting up their own business. It is all about communication – have honest conversations, share thoughts, share challenges and do not let things build-up.
The most important factor to remember is to always aim to make yourself and those around you happy. This is the true key to success.