First up we have Sam King, founder of the designer furniture store Lime Lace, who has shared her experiences of creating a business in order to identify a gap in the market for quirky and unique items missing on the high street.What made you decide to start your own business? My background is in property developing and interior design. I’ve worked for some great companies and employees over the years but I always knew one day I would create my own business when the time was right. I set up Lime Lace in August 2012 as I realised there was a gap in the market for a retailer who specialised in eclectic and unusual home interiors and gifts. Limelace.co.uk is a one stop market place for designer and unusual furniture, wallpaper, lighting, gifts, jewellery & art. We now sell our products to retail customers, commercial and residential interior designers all around the world. Did you experience any financial difficulties when you first set up the business and how did you overcome them? When I first set up Lime Lace I was fortunate that I had saved enough capital for the initial set up and launch. I also put aside enough money to live off for the first six months to ease the pressure. I researched the best business bank accounts for SMEs and I chose a bank which I felt offered the best support. However, I soon realised that short-term I needed access to overdraft facilities and credit cards, and accessing these wasn’t as easy or smooth as I thought. There are fees and credit limits to take in to account and you need to way up the benefit of the short-term borrowing for the business benefit. I also didn’t plan for my online business to expand worldwide so quickly for both overseas suppliers and customers but this also came with financial difficulties as banks again charge fees to transfer abroad. I have found PayPal very beneficial for making these payments. What is most valuable business finance lesson you’ve learned? Know your business inside and out and if finance is not your strong point, get someone who can help. You can’t hide from your accounts they are the backbone of your business and without them you will not progress. It has taken me a couple of years to find an accountant who I work well with and who is trustworthy and supportive. What advice do you have for women who want to start their business? Research your business idea thoroughly, know your competition and work out what makes you different. Once you have your idea ensure you completely believe in it, you need to have drive and determination to run a business. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way, it happens to us all. You will learn more from your mistakes than your success. And finally don’t be afraid to speak to your friends and family for their opinion or advise, I still regularly ask mine for their view point of new product lines or marketing strategies. They are your greatest fans and supporters! On the next page we have insights from Sandy Ruddock, the founder of Scarlett and Mustard. Scarlett and Mustard grew from her son Ollie selling their grandmother’s tarragon salad dressing at the age of 11 to the formation of the business in 2012.
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