After my friend decided we were better off as friends rather than business partners, I realised that I couldn’t start a tea house on my own. I therefore had to start off small. I felt that I needed to sell loose leaf tea. My mission is to ensure that everyone had a better tea in their cupboard and I was going to source it for them. Given the cheeky nature of my business name (based on my actual first name), the personaliTEA and language of my company would be reflected in the use of tea puns. I also wanted tea to become more to accessible people. By being a friendly, engaging person, I felt that this would be reflected in the approachable nature of the tea I sourced. Think of your business idea in terms of product and service features. What benefits does your product or service have for your customers? What is the personaliTEA of your company, and what key messages will you be relaying to your customers?
Some of the questions I thought about for MayKing Tea included:
– Who is my target market?
– What did they look like?
– Where would I find them?
I envisaged my customers to be busy professionals who were health conscious, predominantly female 30 somethings. Using my mission and my personaliTEA I decided to look for my customers through a combination of networking; running tea events; finding speaking engagements and selling my tea online.
Looking at competitors was the most enjoyable part of my research because as I had read more books about running a business, I realised that I didn’t really believe in competition but potential collaboration. Nevertheless, I did see what was out there, compiled an Excel spreadsheet of what I liked, what I didn’t like about each competitor, and that helped me to understand what I could do in order to stand out from the crowd from other tea vendors.
Scrap my last statement. THIS was the section that I had most fun with. Whom could I collaborate with in order to spread my message about better qualiTEA tea? In the six months that I ran my business in London, I worked with cafés to wholesale tea; I spoke at Networking Events about my startup journey. I collaborated with another tea company to talk at a Food Festival about the health benefits of tea. I even launched my business by collaborating with two business startups so that people who came to the event could sample, tea, cakes and lingerie. Ooh la la!!
Working in business can often feel like the loneliest place on the planet, but if you find the right like-minded business owners to work with, you can create a one-off or ongoing collaboration which will expose your customers to something different; introduce you to a new audience (your collaborator’s customer-base) and most important of all, it’s a lot of fun!
Over the years, I have made some crucial mistakes when collaborating with some business owners, but I will save that for another post. In the meantime, what research have you done for your business idea? Did you test your idea before launching your business? What mistakes did you find from conducting your research? I would love for you to leave a comment below (or you can tweet me, or send me an email).