Running your own small business is one of the most rewarding things life has to offer. But should starting a business be driven by your heart and passion? Or after realising a gap in the market, go with the business plan that will earn you the most cash and better holidays?
We caught up with three emerging businesses, who gave us an insight into their brands and reveal what it was that drove them to be successful in their industries.
Amelia Rope and her luxury flavoured chocolate bars has seen her, at one stage, move house 15 times in the same amount of months. But the aromatherapist's determination to run her own business has its perks, and she insists that without the passion for her product, her business would never have made the shelves of the likes of Fortnum & Mason’s and Selfridges. Her journey from the unknown to national recognition has been steady, but with success high on her agenda, Amelia Rope Chocolate is more than just a money making scheme.
“My motivation wasn’t money, it was more to do with finding a business. I always knew I wanted to set up my own business but I could have never told you it was going to be chocolate or food. It was finding myself and then using chocolate as my vehicle. My experience as a qualified aromatherapist has been transferred into the way I create my recipes. I blend using organic aromatherapy oils (food grade) and allow the oils to sit in the chocolate. I think there are very few people who set up their own business and get an instant financial reward, however much they want it.”
For many small business owners, it’s the little things that matter. Seeing people queue outside your store to buy your latest product or watching your business grow from a office in the spare bedroom to nationwide stores can sometimes be more satisfying then having a huge wad of cash thrown at you. But defining passion is harder than a simple google search.
“I think passion can be split up into drive and determination, maybe even ambition. We’re not all career people, if that was the case, we’d all stay in a safe little world. I had a very good salary before I embarked on my chocolate business. People who set up their own business are all risk takers, there are times when you are sailing by the seat of your pants with running it all. I think the risks become more measured the more established the business becomes and you have a different confidence. Running your own business is addictive"
BagServant.co.uk, the only search engine devoted to handbags, aims to offer a fashion heaven to their users. Choose your budget, personality, shape, occasion and colour, and BagServant advises you on the perfect fashion accessory, featuring handbags from luxury brands, high street and emerging designers. Founder Lenka Gourdie, despite her passion for fashion, admits her business is all about the money.
“I think passion is very important. Although in business, it is about money! I don’t think that passion is the deciding factor for success but it certainly helps. But it also depends on the individual’s goals. When you are looking for some funding, the passion helps to get investors on board, but from then onwards it is about numbers.”
Lenka’s eye for a gap in the market has seen her business adventures gather speed rapidly, with her latest idea Saleservant.com recently launching its website. Sale Servant’s role is to provide emerging brands and small to medium fashion brands with tools and services to drive traffic and sales. This will be achieved via offering a low cost affiliate marketing solution and academy with coaching services. Lenka believes that passion, combined with her business knowledge, will ultimately help her climb the entrepreneur ladder and leave her business with a hefty bank balance.
“Although one of the reasons for setting up this business was seeing a gap in the market and following up my passion, making money is a very important to us. Our goal is to grow the business and sell it in the long term. We want to see the business grow and succeed, in order to do this, we need to achieve the numbers.”
Business ideas can come from anywhere. For Liam Hughes, his struggle with the academic side of university pointed him towards Mindjet, the mind mapping software. Realising the potential in the market for a community where mind maps can be shared, Liam founded Biggerplate.com. They’ve gone on to have over 50,000 members from over 180 countries, and organisations such as Disney, the BBC and the NHS have used his mind map library.
Despite his obvious enthusiasm for Biggerplate, Liam believes that passion for the industry you’re hoping to stake a claim in isn’t required. “I think if you are passionate about your business and what you’re trying to achieve, then your interest or passion for the industry you’re in may actually be irrelevant.
“When I first started Biggerplate, I would have been hard pushed to say I was passionate about the mind mapping industry, but I was incredibly excited about my business, and the potential it had/has to shape that industry into something bigger and more dynamic that I could get excited about. The idea of creating a business that disrupts and transforms an industry is pretty exciting, even if the industry in itself is not that you get naturally excited about when you first look at it!”