For ambitious start-up and Growth Entrepreneurs wanting to create value.

Spotting a niche, building a business

Bough to Beauty Badges. Design and manufacture of sustainably sourced oak and walnut badges

Meet the
apprentice

Vix & Lou Lawson

Owners

Bough to Beauty Badges

"It made us focus on the few really important priorities that would get the business off the ground - to come up with the best objectives to work towards and not get bogged down in doing a million different things.”

The issues

  • Finding the advice that can turn a passionate idea into a successful launch
  • Helping a two-person start up source the right customers in the best markets

The background

Having served their time in office jobs, sisters Vix and Lou Lawson were looking for something more creative to do and found inspiration while working on an organic farm in Portugal, learning about sustainability. They hatched a plan for an online, eco-friendly jewellery business and headed back to the UK to set it up.

However it was while promoting the jewellery at networking events that their plans took an unexpected swerve as they spotted a potential new niche for their business. “Wherever we went we were given these naff and tacky plastic badges to wear,” remembers Vix. “We thought, these really don’t reflect the brand that’s promoting the event. Maybe that’s something we could do much better.” The questions now were would it work, where would the customers come from and how could they get the business launched?

The solution

Both sisters signed on to the Lancaster-based Business Start-up Boot Camp, run by Winning Pitch as part of the Boost Business Lancashire support programme. A series of intensive, practical, hands-on workshops walked them through all the possible scenarios their business could take, identifying the ones that would work fastest and most successfully.

“The course made a huge difference,” says Vix. “More important than anything else it brought our thinking together and made the business idea clear in minds. We became much more certain about what kinds of customers we wanted, why we wanted them, and what we would be providing that would be of interest to them.

“It also made us focus on the few really important priorities that would get the business off the ground. We did lots of exercises that taught us how to come up with the best objectives to work towards and not get bogged down in doing a million different things.”

The resultBough Badges Collage2

Both Lou and Vix realised they still had to shape their own management abilities and go from two sisters sharing a dream to a properly structured business team. “The course showed us we didn’t both have to be involved in absolutely everything. By each having our own responsibilities it allowed the other to be more objective.”

It also got them exploring various strategies on the market segments to be in and what areas of the business they could scale. (That work led to extra orders for products such as coasters and menu boards that built out from their original idea.)

The benefit

“It surprised us that we ended up enjoying the financial side of it,” said Vix. “We’ve both shied away from anything to do with finance in the past and the idea of sitting down and creating a cashflow forecast scared us a little. But when we did it, we realised it was actually quite exciting – to see that if you can get these sales then by the end of the year, this is where you’ll be and this is what you’ll have.”

Branding and marketing advice on the course encouraged them to look beyond finding customers, to finding the right customers, those whose association would say something about their product. Today Jameson Irish Whiskey, Greenpeace and Waitrose are all on the client list. “They’re perfect for us; people are impressed that companies like those believe in what we’re doing,” says Vix. “I’m not sure we would have attracted them if we hadn’t been encouraged to become so focussed.

The coach’s story

The Lancashire LEAP programme that Vix and Lou went on had been designed by Winning Pitch specifically to support new businesses just like theirs, said Rona McFall, Head of Entrepreneurial Solutions. “We set it up to be challenging and really test the entrepreneur and their conviction to make their business idea a success. We have dedicated years to research and working side-by-side with ambitious growth businesses, that’s why our growthology toolkits are nationally recognised as powerful ways to accelerate the growth of new businesses.” Lancashire LEAP helped Vix create a growth action plan that had real, achievable targets while the Start Up Boot Camp ensured she had the tools and techniques to achieve them. “Vix also benefited from 1-2-1 support with one of our world class specialists and we are so thrilled to see the business going from strength to strength.”

Take out for other businesses

In Vix’s own words: “we can only say, go out and learn. It makes an incredible difference to what you want to do with your business and where it’s going.”

To find out more about our work with other businesses like yours, and the successes we’ve had together, call or email Rona McFall, Head of Entrepreneurial Solutions on 0161 876 3363