This story is about…
Female entrepreneur: Caroline Brealey
Company: Mutual Attraction
She started her business because: she has always loved the world of dating!
What motivated you to start your business?
I have always loved the wonderful world of dating and not just so I could date lots of lovely men myself! I have always been interested in what brings two people together and I find it fascinating how dating is changing rapidly fro etiquette of dates to the way we meet people – by poking, tweeting, liking, winking and all manner of things!
I loved the concept of matchmaking and felt like it had been lost as online dating took over and the traditional dating agencies remained stuffy, expensive and old fashioned. I wanted to set up a matchmaking agency, but it was a little dream I had, I was working in the voluntary sector, which I did enjoy and I had a good salary so I just plodded along. Until I moved jobs that is! I started a new role and from the moment I walked in on my first day I knew I had made a big mistake and within a month it was clear I had. I left, cried for a few days, freaked out alot about not being able to get another job and then decided….why not give setting up a business a go?!
Mutual Attraction was born!
Tell us about your business…
Mutual Attraction is a Matchmaking Consultancy for busy professionals in London looking for a relationship.
Dating is a tough business, dating in London is even tougher! People lead busy lives and don’t always have the time or desire to trawl around bars, online date and head to their nearest speed dating event. At Mutual Attraction we understand this and do the hard work for our members from finding prospective dates to coordinatng their first date so all they need to worry about is turning up on time….and if they are worried about that we will get a car to pick them up!
People ask if we are different to a traditional dating agency. The concept is the same but at Mutual Attraction we don’t use questionnaires or ‘psychology tests’ we really get to know our members and build up a great relationship with them. We aren’t stuffy women telling you who you can and can’t date, we are simply dating angels helping you along your way to meet that special someone!
What is a day in the life of you like?
Each day is different which is one of the reasons I love my job, but I do ensure I have a structure to my day. For example where possible I will work in the office in the morning and then spend the afternoon out and about. An example of one day last week:
7.00am – crawl out bed (I’m not a morning person!) make tea and try to open my eyes!
8:00am – Check and respond to emails, review daily calendar and update all social media.
9:00am – Update prospective members presentation and try to figure out how to get it onto an iPad and still work!
11:00am – Quick call to any members who have a date tonight, confirm everything and give them some last minute tips!
12:00pm – lunch and a quick tweet!
12:30pm – Prepare for two meetings later in the day.
1:30pm – Add new members to database and start prepping their profiles
5:00pm – Head into Soho for meeting with a drinks company to start planning a joint event, exciting!
6:30pm – Meeting with a pop up boutique to see if there is anyway we can work together, we are two very different businesses but we are two young women with businesses and it’s great to support one another and you never know how you can work together in the future.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
When I started out I knew nothing about running a company. I was told I needed to register the business with Companies House, I thought I had to go and find the building ‘companies House’ somewhere in London!! Everything was new and very daunting, especially as I was doing it on my own. My main challenge though has been launching the company and getting word out to our target audience that we exist, it’s been much tougher than I thought. I have a PR company who have been great, but can be costly and the use of free social media has helped, but making your company stand out is hard.
How did you overcome these challenges?
It’s a cliché but it has all been a learning curve, you overcome these challenges as you go along, a few months back registering the company was a big deal, now it would be an hour job, you learn and then move on. I have also met, via social media, people who also work in the dating industry but we are not direct competitors. This is great because in a way I feel like I have colleagues and don’t feel like i’m on my own so much, we all support one another and are there to help out when needed.
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
Without a doubt networking and meeting people face to face.
Social media and the website are all well and good and have been great at helping promote the company, but I get most of my members through networking at events from gallery openings to drinks at the local. Of course, living in London this makes networking easier, there are so many things happening every day!
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and utilize the skills you have around you. When it comes down to it you’ll be amazed at how many of your friends and family have fantastic accounting skills, are web designers and can make a fabulous leaflet. Best of all they usually accept payment in the form of a large glass of wine!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
This is a toughie and everyone has days where they feel demotivated and it’s a struggle to do anything. I have learnt that these days happen – they do even if you work in an office for someone else; you just feel more guilty when it’s your own company. Every now and again I have a ‘write off’ day. I make up for it on other days though when I’m working late, in ‘the one’ and get around 5 days work done in one day!
I always try to get out for a walk, resh air really does help and breaks up the day. As i mentioned when describing a normal day, I have tried to keep some structure by avoiding morning meetings where possible and focus on tasks in the morning when i’m at my most motivated.
What’s your favourite quote?
It’s not a quote as such, but lyrics from the song It’s Amazing by Jem
Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be afraid, don’t let your dreams get away, determination using your gift, everybody has a gift.
never give up, never let it die, trust your instincts and most importantly you’ve got nothing o lose, so just go for it.
Who inspires you?
My dad who started a company years ago when he had a young family and barely any money, it was a huge risk and he gambled eveything. Luckily it worked out in the end but it took a long time.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Work hard, enjoy what you do and maintain the passion.
Get in touch…
Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/pages/Mutual-Attraction