I first had my business idea for BleepBleeps back in 2014. At the time, I was working as Executive Creative Director for a brand behaviour agency, specialising in innovation, technology and design. I was also experiencing life as a first-time parent.
It was a mad, exhilarating and incredibly busy time – if you’d have told me back then that my idea would turn into the fully fledged business that it is today, I’d never have believed you.
There seems to be a conception when it comes to starting a business that having the idea – that one, never-been-done-before, unique selling point that no one else out there offers – is the hard part. Perhaps for other business founders, that’s their experience. Not so much for me.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, but with my background working as a Creative Director, the idea was the easy part. And fun, too. But turning my business idea into something profitable, successful and viable? That was a different challenge altogether.
"Often, people hear of ‘overnight’ success stories, but in my opinion these don’t exist."
Often, people hear of ‘overnight’ success stories, but in my opinion these don’t exist. It takes years and years of hard work and dedication to create so-called ‘overnight’ success. And that journey never ends.
Let me share a bit more about how I turned my idea into a reality. It began, as all businesses do, by noticing a gap in the market.
I was in the first forays of parenthood, and it was during one late night (or early morning). My daughter, who was nursing, had come down with a slight temperature. It occurred to me how useful it would be as a parent to have connected devices – in this case, a thermometer – that could make my job a little easier.
Something that could tell me what her temperature meant – whether I should worry or give her a different medication – without having to go trawling through Google. At the time, there was nothing particularly family-friendly on the market, and certainly nothing that was especially nice to look at.
As someone who is passionate about design, that got me thinking. I had the seed of a business idea. A range of connected devices that were nice to look at and designed to make parenting easier.
What came next was more than a decade of hard work trying to secure funding for, designing and manufacturing the products, as well as figuring out our go-to-market strategy. And that’s before we’d even got onto marketing and sales.
In short, it takes time. And unless you have a robust plan and support system in place, it’s easy to become demotivated along the way. That’s why my biggest piece of advice to people just starting out is to find a good support network.
The unfortunate reality is many start–ups end up failing within their first year. One of the main reasons for this is they often launch ideas without a clear sense of direction. Especially for sole founders who are going it alone, the process of turning an idea into a reality requires guidance at every stage.
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The good news is there are a number of options for where to find this support. Incubators and accelerator programmes are great if you’re seeking a structured programme to help get a business off the ground, although competition from other applicants is often high, and the programmes tend to expect a fairly solid plan to already be in place – which you may not have.
Attending networking events is another option, and something which for me was invaluable. Luckily, thanks to technology there have never been more ways to connect with other entrepreneurs and business founders, and we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of organised meet-ups being held regularly around the country.
I personally also benefited from working with a mentor, who provided a useful sounding board for me to bounce ideas off, while also helping me to step back from the day-to-day intricacies that every business owner grapples with. Setting aside dedicated time each week to take a look at the bigger picture is essential for maintaining a broader, strategic view of where your business is heading, as well as for your own morale.
Taking a little idea and turning it into the real thing is no mean feat.
It demands resilience, faith and patience.
But by giving yourself a strong support network and investing time in learning, connecting and seeking inspiration at every stage, you’re already moving in the right direction.
Because after all, if you’re not enjoying the journey, how can you create something that you’re truly proud of? And if you haven’t done the time, how can you ever hope to achieve ‘overnight’ success.