“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. My woman’s’ intuition led to finding the solution to my child’s nail trimming crisis and becoming a successful entrepreneur.
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 five business tips that I wish someone had 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. Research has helped me separate myself from other competitors and narrow down my target audience.
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 long 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. It really is about who you know and all about making the right connections. 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. 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 my customers and retailers. This showed me that having a contingency plan is truly necessary. 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. 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 the 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.
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.
Julia Christie, Founder and CEO, Christie & Christie and winner of the 2018 AusMumpreneur of the Year for Product Innovation