‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ is an expression that makes a lot more sense to me today. I never thought of myself to have exceptional problem-solving capabilities nor did I imagine to become a product designer – until the day I recognised that parents out there needed a safer baby nail trimmer.
This is the story of my personal journey on how my woman’s’ intuition led to finding the solution to my child’s nail trimming crisis and to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Little did I know that this would lead to designing the safer baby nail trimmer The Nail Snail.
It’s been an overwhelming few years but I persevered and tackled any oncoming obstacles. Upon reflection, today, I realise the importance of female entrepreneurs sticking together, sharing tips and personal stories of their mistakes and successes. I would like to share with you, my fellow fempreneurs, 5 business tips that I wish someone would have told me when I first started out.
1. Seek, Search, Self-Instruct – then Repeat
I spent countless hours on Google to familiarise myself with the business arena. It was important for me to learn everything about the market that I was competing in. This included existing products, recent trends in baby products and customer buying behaviours. Research has helped me separate myself from other competitors and narrow down my target audience. I now know who I am speaking to and aiming to please when I market my product to the public.
2. Testing the Product
To ensure the best results, it was important to not only develop multiple prototypes but to work with different companies. Initially, I did have an idea of what I wanted the final product to be like, but I wanted to test the materials, design, shape and its usability in order to ensure the best possible outcome. It may have felt like a longer process, but in the end, the Nail Snail wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for conceptualising and carefully designing and testing the baby nail trimmer.
3. Using your Network to your Advantage
I rely heavily on my network and use it to my advantage to grow my product’s reach. While I attended baby-related expos, I started seeing attendees not only as a potential customers, but possible suppliers, retailers or even influencers that would spread the good news of the Nail Snail. It really is about who you know and all about making the right connections. In that regard, you never know who in your network will lead you to your next breakthrough. Make sure you tap into relevant events, expos and networks where your product has the best chance of reaching the right audience.
4. Planning Ahead and Managing Change
Dealing with many unforeseen situations is simply part of running a business. Once the Nail Snails started selling out, I knew I had to revisit how I was managing my stock. Although, selling out of Nail Snails was synonymous with monetary reward, however, for me it meant I had to improve the logistics and work more closely with the manufacturer to ensure continued availability of the product for both, my customers and retailers. This showed me that having a contingency plan is truly necessary.
Unpredictable situations do occur and will happen whether you like it or not – be it delays in shipping, production, delays at customs, or technological difficulties, these are all part of the game. It’s how you face and fix these problems that really determine your success.
5. Knowing What Your Customers Want
Don’t underestimate the importance of listening to your customers. Although, the initiative of creating a baby nail trimming tool was based on my personal experience, I found it was all about the customers’ experience of using the Nail Snail that mattered most. Other entrepreneurs have given me insightful tips on how to hear what my buyers need, which has also made me a better entrepreneur. At the end of day, we are not born knowing how to succeed in business, but mostly manage by incorporating different experiences. Entrepreneurs that have excellent listening skills respond better to customer expectations and grow more successful businesses.
What it Means to be in Business
I also knew I was going to be busy; very busy. Barely two years after launching a successful Kickstarter Campaign back in February 2017, and after winning the prestigious Australian Good Design & the Big Innovation Award in May 2018, I knew the hard work had paid off when I won the national AusMumpreneur Product Innovation Award.
Just recently, I was featured on Channel 10’s Australia By Design: Innovation, a series dedicated to showcasing Australian-made products and their designers. I was completely unaware, and overjoyed, after discovering that I had been announced among the top 10 finalist for best product innovation of the year – right across Australia & New Zealand.
Business is an ongoing journey of discovering your strengths and weaknesses and constantly re-evaluating yourself and your business decisions. Mostly, I can say I wouldn’t have become the successful entrepreneur I am today if it wasn’t for my willingness to listen, learn and persevere.