Hippychick founder Julia Minchin offers budding mumpreneurs her top tips for creating a successful baby product:
- Research, research, research! It doesnt matter how inventive your concept is if there just isnt a demand for it, youll never make a success of it, no matter how hard you try. Ask mum friends or get the permission of a local playgroup or nursery to give out questionnaires. Establish there is a genuine need and then go all guns blazing before someone else spots it too!
- Recognise what a tough market youre trying to get into! Go to any baby show and youre instantly overwhelmed by the sheer number of products competing for new parents attention. Ask yourself if your concept is genuinely different or innovative enough to stand out from the crowd.
- Be prepared to be patient. Quality and safety are everything in this market. So make sure your business plan allows for months of testing and for sourcing the right factories. For instance, the brilliant Totseat which we supply is the most versatile travel highchair on the market, but only because its inventor Rachel Jones, a mum herself was prepared to put in the legwork and test her prototype on over 900 chair designs to ensure it fitted and would be ultra safe and secure on any type of chair out there.
- If this is your first venture call in the experts! Find a distributor, like Hippychick, that can help you with pricing, positioning and marketing your product to potential retailers and customers.
- Invest in good childcare! When youre 100% happy with where your children are during the day it leaves you more headspace to focus on your growing business. But its also vital that you know when to put family first. A meeting can always be postponed. Your childs first nativity play or sports day cant.
- Sometimes have the guts to say sod it! If you really believe in what youre doing be brave enough to plough on when things get tough or when the doubters start spreading messages of doom (and therell be plenty who say youre mad to try and launch during a recession!).The two mum inventors of the brilliant Dream Tubes inflatable bed guard set now one of our best sellers were told on numerous occasions that an inflatable bed guard wouldnt work. But rigorous testing at independent testing houses proved that Dream Tubes met and exceeded the highest British Safety standards bed guards and over 50,000 Dream Tubes sets were sold in their first year! Proof that you shouldnt always listen to those averse to a bit of risk.
- Get a good accountant and dont be afraid to ask questions even if youre afraid they may make you look stupid. Its important that you get to grips with the figures behind your business as soon as possible. I wish Id known from the outset the importance of good margins and understood as well that turnover is just vanity!
- Get involved with your local business groups eg. local Chambers of Commerce. Its a great way of networking with other local businesses, of hearing about good suppliers, initiatives and promotions and of generally getting your name out there
- Dont lose yourself or your relationship in your business. When youre passionate about what youre doing its easy to get carried away especially if your home is doubling up as your office as mine was. Make time for down time. Put on an excersise DVD, grab a glass of wine, have a long soak in the bath or just pick up the phone for a good gas to a friend and above all schedule in regular date nights with your man!
- Enjoy! Youll work phenomenally hard for every success you have so teach yourself to really relish and celebrate each milestone
You can see more of the Hippychick range, including last year's mumpreneur-winning Bumpsters product, on the Hippychick website