Thursday, 2 July 2015

Saving for your speed boat. A mother with a million business ideas.

I have started A LOT of at home businesses. Some great. Think, mother of four rivals Richard Branson (okay not quite) some plain awful, think, mother of four ends up with 40 wedding dresses stuck in her spare room. I'll explain that later.

I won't lie, I'm a bit of 'Del Boy' open my coat, sell you watches in the school playground, type. 
I'm forever seeking ideas for new ventures. I'm not the sort to buy into franchises or the like, but rather, sit on the sofa, an idea pops into my head and before I know it I've bought 500 umbrellas from China, and just figure I'll check out the weather forecast later. 

In light of this, I thought to give a quick run through of some of my many 'I'm not working 9-5 for nobody' ideas. 

So, some that may or may not inspire the Branson in you are:

A vintage crockery hire company. This was successful and is still running! I thought best to start with a positive, knowing what's to follow...
Two mothers, sat with tea in one hand and a nappy bag in the other, we came up with idea and the next weekend were out haggling with car booters to grab our tea cups and sugar tongs and off we skipped into the big wide (crazy/bizarre) world of weddings. We sweet talked wedding venues to let us do display tables with our 'summer cream tea' theme, at their open events, and that first summer we bagged 9 bookings. Result. 

Next, a retro, vintage clothes seller on eBay. 
I loved this. I love clothes, I love charity shops, and it was great selling to young women who although loved vintage togs, would rather sip a Star Bucks than be seen in Oxfam. It supported charities too which was lovely chicken soup for the soul. 
I did it for about a year until secondhand prices became more expensive where I was living, than if I'd shopped at Radleys. I couldn't longer keep saving towards that speed boat. 

And then there was making individual,  rustic wedding guest books. 
This was great, until the realisation that although enthusiastic, my crafty wears weren't actually good enough to sell. To anyone. 
The penny dropped after I had bought 1 million sequins and a glue gun, oh and saw half of Etsy are selling the exact same thing. Only better. 

On to, a second hand wedding dress business. 
So, with this one I was pretty convinced I was in the realms of Dragons Den. I was set to become the next face of 'business women of the year'. 
The idea was to showcase dresses all in one place (my spare room which I transformed into a rather gorgeous dressing room) so that brides with a restricted budget could view all the dresses in one go and replicate that special day you choose 'the one'. Great right?! Wrong. 
I began my venture when my 4th daughter was 3 weeks old. Insane. 
But she slept like a bear would hibernate, so I forgot about the part where she would actually 'grow' and stop rivalling my longest sleep stint of 12 hours. 
I had 60 women drop off their dresses in 2 days and lots of brides waving their cash. The speed boat was back on. 
That was until my quite anxious 3 year old really wasn't ok with the numerous amount of people coming in and out of 'her' house. That, and I was running after brides with a crying child saying 'shhhhh' as the baby was sleeping in the next room. 
The party was over right there. 

I've also had 'Branson' moments when I've decided to study to be a personal trainer (*splutter* sorry I just choked on some Betty Crocker mixture) a poet, a children's author, a childminder and an accountant. Until I remembered I don't like figures. Or maths. 
Of course true mother style, I came to this conclusion after being delivered a 50 tonne parcel containing all my AAT literature for the next 3 years. 

So what did I learn from all this?

My husband is very, very patient. 

To do what I love! Not what I think is just a great idea, you need to be passionate about it or it will most likely end in 'I'm out'. 
I mean I can never really be passionate about guest books. 

Research! I decided to sell ice pole holders (yes they are a thing) after making my daughters a prototype. 
Aside from the fact I can't sow very well,  if I had simply typed in 'ice pole holder' into the power that is Google, I would of seen you can buy them, £1.99 for 5 from Wilkinsons.

Another realisation is to be realistic on what you can actually fit into your life! 
I have 4 young girls, my day consists of them, cooking, the house, being a taxi and washing. And it's busier than when I worked 3 jobs at once. 
Any new business will take long nights and hard work, but if you have customers waiting the other end for goods they have paid for, you need to make sure you can deliver. I can't, I've learnt, and it makes my stress levels sore more than a toddler who had the peppa pig spoon for their dinner rather than the Dora one. Serious tension right there. 

Lastly though, give it a good old bash. Take that idea, think it through, then run with it like a mum running out the school gates after dropping all her children there. With enthusiasm. 

No one built their empire first time, right? 

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  1. As someone who frequently dreams up 'good ideas' I loved this post. Unlike you though, few of mine have actually come to fruition - I always find some reason why they won't work. Good for you for actually trying and not giving up. From what I've read that's what every single eventually successful entrepreneur has done until they struck gold and most of them with a good deal of tears along the way. To be able to create your dream career is such a cool thing but it's damned hard work! Great post. :-)

    1. aahhhh I just wrote a long reply and it didn't post! Annoying ha-ha! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, its lovely to hear from another big thinker, I have had so many that never came to fruition either, but, then I married another DelBoy type and chaos insued! Keep dreaming as one of your ideas may just hit the ground running :) xx

  2. This post is so good that am willing to invest, however I spent all my money for the week on a prototype for my latest invention, a laundry folding machine. I promise when I make my first million, I'll buy you a boat.

    1. Now that is a deal! Also can I please put an order in for one of your machines? I cant believe I never thought of that! Fabulous! xx

  3. What a fab post, I'm sure most of us have come up with money making schemes but I wonder how many of us have actually given it a go like you have - a big thumbs up for that! I love the wedding dress idea, I'm kind of addicted to watching 'Say Yes To The Dress' type programmes and think I would rather enjoy being a wedding dress stylist, we just don't have the room in our house! x

    1. Thanks so much! Yes I loved being surrounding by the dresses, it took all my will power to not try them on... ;) you should look into hiring a space and do it! I used our spare room, it was a bit of a nightmare really when family came to stay but hey, who wouldn't like to sleep in a room full of gowns?! I eventually hired a space for £80 a month by asking around, there are deals to be had!

      Thanks so much for your feedback, I love hearing people enjoyed it!


  4. Hi Martha, I found your Blog through Digital Mums. Being a (slightly!) older mum of four children I have been on many of your journeys. Having four children is busy ( you can't even sit on the loo without being interupted) exhausting ( I used to go to work for a rest!) and sometimes draining (20 school shirts washed and ironed each week along with the ridiculous amount of Games Kit- my ironing pile has its own room!) but it is also hilarious, joyful and energising, and has made me the most happiest, loved mummy ever. I wouldn't have it any other way. Looking forward to reading more from you. Sarah xx

    1. Hi Sarah, and fellow mum of four! I agree about work as a rest at times! You can just be yourself for a while, and get a coffee break that consists of actual hot drinks! I think so many of us are searching for that opportunity to work around our children and for ourselves. I'm still on my journey but will get there, but I love what you said, being mum is the best job ever :) xx