This story is about…
Female Entrepreneur:Emma Dalzell
Industry: Marketing and Online Retail
She started her business because: “Although I loved working in the corporate world, I’d wanted my own marketing business for a long time.”
Age range: 30s
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business…
I’m a Yorkshire girl at heart, although I’ve moved around quite a bit (Hampshire, Berkshire, Tucson in Arizona and Chicago) and have finally settled in Cheshire, where I live with my husband (we married in May last year), four stepsons (yes four!) and our little girl who is 2 years old. Oh and the obligatory pets – two Scottish Fold cats and a rabbit called Becky. So that’s seven humans, three animals and two washing machines! I run two businesses, Bare Bones Marketing and Bundle-O-Joy, and I’m a Vice Chair of the local primary school PTA. You could say I have a fairly full life!
What was your main motivation behind starting your business?
Although I loved working in the corporate world, I’d wanted my own marketing business for a long time. Like many mums though, when I had my little girl I didn’t want to go back to working ridiculous hours and not being able to be there for those important moments, especially as I was working away from home 3 nights a week. So I decided that the time was right to finally set out on my own. Bare Bones Marketing was my first business and I’m passionate about making marketing less scary and more affordable for small businesses. However, when I was pregnant, the lack of good quality, fashionable maternity clothes was really frustrating, especially as a senior professional. So I wanted to do something about that too and have been formulating an idea for a while.
In February I discovered a business for sale that was similar to my idea, so I’m also now the proud owner of Bundle-O-Joy, an online maternity retail business, which offers mums-to-be stylish and affordable maternity clothing bundles.
What’s a day in the life of you like?
After clearing up the results of the whirlwind of seven people in the kitchen every morning, I do the school and nursery run and sometimes feel like that’s more than enough for the day! I don’t really have a “typical” day, but that’s the fun of it! Often I’m on-site with a client acting as their “marketing team”. I could be working on designing a new website, a leaflet, working on a client’s marketing strategy or helping them with some operational aspects of their business. With Bundle-O-Joy, I’m currently updating the website, and ordering new stock for the summer season, as well as photographing existing stock. It’s not easy trying to dress a pregnant mannequin! I do quite a bit of networking for both businesses, either face to face or via social media, and I regularly work in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. My best ideas often come to me when I’m in the shower (nicknamed “Bathroom Marketing”) or in the middle of the night and of course I’m always looking at ways to market myself – marketing a small business is hard work even with 20 years experience!
What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge has been juggling so many different things, especially with the purchase of Bundle-O-Joy. Trying to shift my mindset from working with a client from my marketing business to deciding what outfits are going to work for pregnant women, is quite difficult. Although I’ve got lots of experience in marketing businesses, managing a stock-based business is a very different ball game! Managing the two businesses alongside managing a family is no mean feat!
How have you overcome the challenges?
I have to be extremely organised and so I make lists and work through them methodically. I find breaking things down into manageable, bite-size chunks makes it so much more achievable and I get great satisfaction ticking things off the list at the end of each day. With a large family as well, everything has to be run like a military operation, otherwise no-one would be in the right place at the right time – including me! I’m very lucky as I have an incredibly supportive husband and I regularly bounce business ideas and challenges off him. I keep a positive attitude because I know that my experience marketing big brands and running large teams gives me the confidence to know that I’m doing the right thing.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I think my biggest achievement has been having the guts to actually leave the relative comfort of the corporate world and set up on my own. Being able to buy Bundle-O-Joy from the proceeds of the income I’ve generated from my marketing business made me realise that I can achieve the goals I’ve set myself.
How have you raised the awareness of your business?
As an experienced marketer, I know the value of marketing your business and so I set up a marketing plan right at the very beginning to give myself a strategy, direction and marketing activities that I knew I could achieve. I manage the search engine optimisation of both of my websites www.barebonemarketing.co.uk and www.bundleojoy.co.uk myself, which doesn’t cost me a penny. I use social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and professional networking, such as Linked In and face to face networking. I also understand the importance of branding and so I use printed marketing material where I need to for specific target audiences. And I do my own PR. After all, as a marketing company, I have to demonstrate that I can practice what I preach!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I remind myself of how much I’ve achieved so far. Setting up a business is not for the faint-hearted and I know that if I keep focussed and remind myself of my goals, I can be successful. If I have a setback, I chalk it down to experience, learn from it and move on. I have an in-born fear of failure and that, mixed with good old Yorkshire grit and determination, is a pretty strong recipe for keeping going. The support I get from my husband and family is also a huge help and I want my little girl to see that you can achieve whatever you want as long as you are prepared to work hard and persevere. And if I’m not quite achieving what I want, I work harder!
Who inspires you?
My mum and little girl are my inspirations. My mum has always taught me that it is important to do the very best you can at everything you do. That doesn’t mean being brilliant at everything – it just means working hard to make sure that you don’t have to settle for something you don’t want to do. My little girl was the real catalyst for me to finally take all the hard work I’d put into my corporate life and build something for myself that I hope she can be proud of.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I’m a planner, so I’d say plan. Then have a plan in case that first plan fails, and then a back-up to the second plan. Work out your “what ifs” and if, when you’ve done your planning and you still want to give it a go, then do. Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes and take risks, but make them calculated risks. And don’t be afraid to ask for help – there’s lots of it out there and most people really are just happy to help, just don’t forget to say “thank you”.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”‘ is the quote I live by. It is attributed to ‘The Children of the New Forest’ (1847) by English novelist Frederick Maryat, and it is certainly a mantra that my mum has instilled within me. Although sometimes I modify it a bit and say (if you can afford it) “If at first you don’t succeed, pay someone to do it for you!”
Do you have a business philosophy?
The philosophy for my marketing company is: Simple, down-to-earth marketing advice and services that will deliver commercial results. As a small business, we understand that every penny counts. But, if you have the right marketing it can deliver more customers, keep the customers you’ve already got and make them spend just that little bit more. And that’s the bare bones of it…
I’m still working on the philosphy of Bundle-O-Joy, but the vision is to “Make Maternity Easy”.
What’s your goal for the next year?
Other than keeping sane? My goal is to generate a profit from both businesses, and to be in a position where I can employ someone to help me with developing both businesses further. Of course, domination of the business world wouldn’t be bad either ;)
Get in touch…