Julia Christie outlines the wonderful journey of starting a new business idea from scratch in the first of our Side Hustle Series. Find out what it really takes to grow a great business while growing a great family. And get simple tips from real people, to inspire you and help you write your own success story.
‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’ is an expression that makes a lot more sense to me today. I never thought of myself as having exceptional problem-solving capabilities, nor did I imagine becoming a product designer – until the day I became a mother.
When accidentally cutting my first-born’s finger with conventional clippers, I had the most terrifying experience and realised that I had injured the most precious being on this Earth. I was on a mission to search high and low for safe baby nail clippers that would eliminate the risk of further harming my darling little one. My search was unfruitful and led me to a dead-end. I couldn’t find the answer to the problem I was looking for. That’s when I knew, at that precise moment, I was going to solve the issue myself.
Little did I know that my ‘Super-Mum Powers’ would lead me to designing a multiple award-winning baby nail trimmer – The Nail Snail.
It has been an amazing journey so far and, I never actually intended to start a business. After launching a successful Kickstarter Campaign back in February 2017 and conceptualising the prototype of the baby nail trimmer, I realised the Nail Snail and myself – busy mum of three and now successful entrepreneur, have led a wonderful startup journey.
Many will say it takes courage and strength to start a business.
When it comes to starting up, there is no better way to learn than from those that have gone before you. That’s exactly what I did. In a way, they have gone through similar stages as you and I will. I would like to share with you, my fellow mums and budding fempreneurs, a few useful tips and tricks that I wish someone would have told me when I first started out.
1. Knowledge is Key
I spent countless hours on Google to familiarise myself with the business arena.
It was important for me to learn everything about the market that I was going to compete in. This included existing products, recent trends in baby products and customer buying behaviours. I couldn’t believe how many parents out there were facing similar nail care dilemma. If it wasn’t for market research I wouldn’t of known the extent of scope for my product.
In the end, research helped me separate myself from other competitors, but especially, to find that gap in the market. And, just like that, I was able to position the Nail Snail to the audience I needed to reach.
2. Testing 1-2-3
To ensure the best results, it was important to not only develop multiple prototypes but to collaborate with different businesses.
Initially, I did have an idea of what I wanted the final product to be like, but I wanted to test the materials, design, shape and its usability in order to ensure the best possible outcome. It may have felt like a longer process, but in the end, the Nail Snail wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for conceptualising, carefully designing, and especially testing it.
Today, I feel like I have created a product that is not only helping parents to safely provide nail care for their young ones, but something that is significantly above many other trimmers on the market.
3. Get Yourself Out There
I relied heavily on my network and used it to my advantage to grow my product’s reach.
It really is about who you know and all about making the right connections. In that regard, you never know who in your network will lead you to your next breakthrough. While I attended baby-related expos, I started seeing attendees not only as potential customers, but possible suppliers, retailers or even influencers that would spread the good news for the Nail Snail.
It was all about meeting, greeting and answering questions from curious potential customers.
Shortly after, the Nail Snail was being featured in numerous publications and gaining thousands of social media followers. I must say, once you get out of your comfort zone and are speaking to parents about healthier and safer nail care, the feeling of knowing that you are helping concerned parents is overwhelming.
4. Plan For Unforeseen Situations
Dealing with many unforeseen situations is simply part of running a business.
Once the Nail Snails started selling out I knew I had to revisit how I was managing my stock. Although, selling out of Nail Snails was synonymous with monetary reward, however, for me it meant I had to improve the logistics and work more closely with the manufacturer to ensure continued availability of the product for both, my customers and retailers.
This showed me that having a contingency plan is truly necessary.
Unpredictable situations do occur and will happen whether you like it or not – be it delays in shipping, production, delays at customs, or technological difficulties, these are all part of the game. It’s how you face and fix these problems that really determines your success.
5. Ask For Help
At the end of the day, we are not born knowing how to succeed in business, but mostly manage on a mix of trial and error incorporated with a combination of tips and shared experiences from other entrepreneurs.
As I went through the different stages of my startup, I followed the advice provided from other entrepreneurs and business-minded individuals who gladly shared their personal experiences with me.
I can still remember how invaluable receiving insightful tips was for me.
n a way, I owe much of my success to these knowledgeable men and women who made me a better entrepreneur. Surrounding yourself with like-minded business owners will encourage you to stay focussed on achieving your goals. Hence, me sharing my insights with you here. On this note, it is equally as important to celebrate the milestones you achieve along the day.
6. Kicking Goals Along The Way
Apart from knowing that I have made a difference for many parents along the way, I am grateful that my inspiration, passion and dedication led to me receiving a number of recognitions such as the Australian Good Design Award, the Big Innovation and the AusMumpreneur Award.
The hard work has really paid off. My family and friends were just as surprised as I when it was announced on Channel 10’s Australia By Design that I had made the Top 10 Finalist for best product innovation of the year right across Australia.
Being recognised nationally does have its perks but it is important to note that success doesn’t happen overnight. I must say, all the recognition is fantastic but would’ve never been possible without the community of parents supporting me and raving about the Nail Snail on social media. My journey proves just how a mother’s intuition can create a ripple effect and lead to entrepreneurial success.
I really hope that by sharing my story and business insights that other mums and budding entrepreneurs might just find the courage to begin their own journey of starting a business.
For more expert advice on growing and managing your family’s finances check out our Grown ups: Family finances section.