Entrepreneurial Spark

So thought I would pop by this evening and write our 4th Blog Post and what better way to do it than with the gentle pitter patter of raindrops on the window cosied up with a candle alight. I know very cliché but after all this is how it all started with a love of candles and teacher gifts to make.

It has been eighteen months since our journey began and what an exciting time it has been. From full time wife and mother to running a business is not exactly what I intended when I listed those first candles on facebook but somebody had those intentions for me and I truly believe somebody has been watching over me all the way, giving me little hints and tips to help me out. Which brings me to our newest piece of this crazy puzzle we recently discovered…..

Yet another late evening updating Billy’s Beach Hut status and trying to get a plan together of where, when and what I need to do next when a sponsored ad popped up on my newsfeed for Entrepreneurial Spark. Calling all Entrepreneurs with a Small start up business or business plan in the Brighton area to get in touch, was this another sign, my superstitious self cried out? This caught my eye not because I consider myself an entrepreneur (I’ve never been a fan of that word, it kind of sounds like a hybrid of human being) but the small business and Brighton caught my eye so I clicked on the advert. Powered by Natwest a business accelerator that helps small businesses grow. No fees, free business advice and office space, I didn’t really need the office space but my business skills are my downfall and I could totally benefit from some help in that area. Before I knew it I’d filled in the form and posted it online.

To my surprise a few weeks later I received an email to say I had been successful and I was now invited to the interview stage!!! The interview involved a 60 second pitch about my business followed by up to ten minutes of questions regarding the business. How hard could it be, I’d faced the panel at Liberty’s open call and survived!

Being nothing but true to myself I did what I always seem to do best and put off thinking about it until the very last minute and in this case the day before!! I packed a box of samples, took a look at their guide on a 60 second pitch and what they would like answered in that 60 seconds, and grabbed my pen and paper to jot down a few bullet points, after all I wanted it to look natural not as if I was reading from a script. After practising a few times with my iphone stopwatch I was confident I could fit the answers into 60 seconds. I hadn’t managed to yet but I’m sure I would, and anyway who would worry if I was 30 seconds to a minute over?!!!! I also had the outfit in the bag too, there was no way I was making the same mistake as last time dressed up like a dogs dinner. Oh no…….. I was promoting my lifestyle brand this time. The sun had been shining all day it would be perfect weather to wear something beach boho…..
Up at the crack of dawn, samples ready, notepad in bag, floaty turquoise harem pants – check , silk cami and sparkly silver sandals – check. My colours even matched my branding I couldn’t help but feel a little smug, that was until I stepped outside to get into the car. A thick blanket of cloud covered the sky, damp in the air, surely it couldn’t rain its British Summer time?!!! I’m sure I won’t be the only one, I thought back to Liberty open call and how dressed down and relaxed everybody looked, it would be just fine.

image2The journey in the car consisted of me practising my 1 minute pitch. As I got closer the heavens opened, yes it was a full on downpour. I prayed for an onsite car park and my prayers were answered. I pulled into the carpark. I was actually half an hour early so managed to get a space just outside the doors therefore luckily escaped looking like I was interviewing for a wet t-shirt competition. The staff were friendly and I was asked to take a seat in the waiting area. The next lady arrived, a tall brunette looking so smart she could have worked for a very posh airline with a tailored brown skirt suit with one of those posh scarfs tied around her neck. It’s okay perhaps she makes suits and is here showcasing them. The next two guys arrived suited and booted, yep they must make suits too….. the next guy again in a suit….. whats going on everybody is showcasing their suits? Or were they dressed for an interview… oops!!! So with a little red face I climbed around 6 flights of stairs until we arrived at the conference room. Whilst chatting to the others in the room they all appeared to be the most laid back people I had ever met. They told me that they had written down the 60 second pitch word for word, rehearsed it and it would be approximately 150 words?!!! Jeeps how does this happen to me, this kind of just confirms that I am a fraudster business person and I shouldn’t even be allowed to enter anything office like. Oh well I’m here now I will just give it my best shot and if all else fails I will offer them a free candle from my samples.

We were all called in one by one to do our pitch and I decided that I would go last, at least that way I would still be fresh in their mind whether it be for good or bad reasons. Everybody seemed to breeze through it so I decided it couldn’t be so bad after all and before I knew it I was the last person in the room and being called in. As I entered the room 2 ladies were sat behind a tall long bar. I plonked my big box of samples on the bar in front of them and asked if I could get out my display of samples…. You see as part of my pitch I was going to use my display as props and my bullet points as prompts, I had it all worked out. Anyway this is where it all went wrong as the answer to my question was ‘no not really unless it would be very quick!!!’. I decided to leave the props until after. I then went to sit up on the bar stool in front of them but was told I needed to stand in the middle of a rug that was in the middle of the room. It actually was like a real Dragons Den style pitch, not the relaxed informal one I had done at Liberty. But what about my bullet points? There was no way I could work without them so it was agreed I could rest my notes on a stool in front of me as a reference and then just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse they started the STOPWATCH!!! So I just went for it, I remembered it all from my bullet points and the stopwatch alarmed for one minute just as I said ‘Thank you for taking the time to see me today’. As I said before and I’ll say it again somebody is definitely looking out for me!! The worst was over with but then came the questions. There were no smiley faces it was a very serious environment, something for me as a full time mum I’m not used to unless a large glass of squash has been knocked off the kitchen side or biro has been drawn on the new leather sofa. These were serious business questions with serious business answers. But something inside me just took over, a passion for what I’ve spent the last eighteen months building. The love of the job and my customers. I feel that the whole community has been behind me helping me all the way and if they believed in me then I owe it to them to believe in myself.

One of the ladies softened throughout the interview, I could feel her warming to me and the products. She confessed she was a bit of a candle addict and absolutely loved the Surf Fragrance. All else hadn’t failed but as a token of appreciation for seeing me I gave her the sample candle.

image3_origSo I drove home convinced I hadn’t made the grade but with a firm belief that I had done my very best and that is all I can do. However not being in long from the interview I checked my emails and I had been accepted.
So what does this mean for the future of Billy’s Beach Hut? I am not entirely sure what this means for us just yet? Boot Camp starts on the 10th August. We receive a free office space within the Royal Bank of Scotland building with use of telephone, internet and computer in Brighton with free business mentoring. For me, I would just really like to be the best we can be, offering our products to a wider audience to enjoy and be able to smell and purchase our fragrances and products from more outlets. Whilst continuing to expand our collection offering even more eco friendly, sustainable, safe products

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