Home Business Heroes: Verity Gill

Home businesses generate £284bn of the UK's GDP making them the true heroes of our economy. So to continue Smarta and Viking's celebration of these brave entrepreneurs, we tracked down founder of Grannynet, Verity Gill.

Can you sum up your business?

Grannynet is the definitive website for grandmothers, providing a one-stop shop for all of their needs including a forum, articles and a shop.

What's the business model?

The business is based on an ecommerce and advertising revenue model.

What were you doing before?

I was an econometrician at media agency, Mindshare.

How did the idea come about?

I thought of the idea behind Grannynet when I had my first child in 2006. Suddenly I saw my mum in a totally new light. I was now able to appreciate all she'd done for me and saw the beginnings of an incredibly strong and unique bond between my child and her grandmother. Aware of how online networks had provided such support to the parenting community and realising how hands on my mum would be with my daughter, I saw a need for a social networking site for the UK's grandmothers. That was when Grannynet was born.

How did you fund it?

We initially funded Grannynet ourselves (myself and business partner Charlotte Lloyd Owen) and we also won funding through an UnLtd Engage award, part of the Millennium trust.

How did you market it?

Through online social networks, exhibitions, advertising on and off line. Also forming partnerships with bigger names than ourselves who were very interested in our niche market.

How have you grown the business?

By working out what works. We learnt very quickly what was value for money, and we tried to concentrate the resources we had towards those activities. It is always important to keep networking, I think it can be very tempting to keep your head down, but if you work from home it is so important that you go out and meet people as you never know where it may lead.

Where in the home is your office?

I am up in the study in our loft.

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Do you have set working hours?

I have three children under six so it is really important that I have set working hours. It is important that my work time is just that and I am a Mum the rest of the time.

How do you make sure you're focused and never get distracted at home?

I am really lucky and have fantastic childcare for the days I work so I don't have to worry about the children even if they are just downstairs. My study is my workspace and the children know that when I am in there, they have to knock and it has to be REALLY important!

What was it like at the start?

I have always loved working on Grannynet, I was really motivated then and I am just as motivated now. Everyone was so positive about the idea and it was great to turn an idea into a reality.

What's the worst thing about working from home?

Occasionally I get cabin fever if I have not been out to meetings for a few days, so I have to get out and go for a walk, even if it's just for half an hour. Also I used to miss the banter you get when you work in an office, but regular Skyping with my business partner has put a stop to that.

What's the best?

There are so many great things about working from home. I don't have to commute, so when I finish my day I walk downstairs and I am immediately with my children; I can take deliveries; I am there if the kids are ill; and I can get chores done in my breaks so that at the end of the day I don't come home to a house that still needs everything to be done.

For more information about Grannynet, click here

Home Business Heroes, in association with

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