In late 2014, my husband and I moved into a new apartment, and between the white goods and decorative accents, I was looking to invest in arguably the most important (and most used) ware for my home: pure, 100% linen bedding that looked beautiful and was comfortable to sleep in.
It had to be high quality, simple to wash, easy on the environment, affordable and beautiful. Reasonable enough, right? We scanned far and wide, researched online and in stores, but nothing we found ticked all the boxes—either we were forced to go over budget, upsold into a bunch of extras or felt generally underwhelmed with the quality on offer.
In the wake of these efforts, I realised the frustrations in dressing my own bed might have tapped into something larger. If I wanted pure, natural linen that was affordable and came complete with two pillowcases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet, delivered free, Australia-wide, surely other people would, too.
At the time, I was working as a journalist (and had been for years) so with my husband in our spare time—evenings and weekends—we set about creating Bed Threads to create the bedding we initially dreamed of.
What followed was two years of vigorous research, product development and a series of firsts: a total career change; an opportunity to satisfy a genuine consumer need; and some steep learning curves.
If you are considering a new idea or evaluating your current line of work in 2019, these are some of the main lessons I learned fast—and sometimes, hard.
1. You are not ‘stuck’—and it’s never too late to dream differently
From the age of ten—when I first started to consume the contents of glossy magazines—my dreams of becoming a journalist were concretised. I completed all of the necessary motions to get there: studying journalism at university, juggling internships and building my body of work experience. Fortunately, I landed my first job at Fairfax Media on TheVine (now closed) followed by a series of editorial posts including at ASOS, Qantas Magazine and Body+Soul, from which I left once Bed Threads became a viable business.
What’s important to highlight here is that I never imagined I would segue careers or launch my own business, which is to say that dreams are adaptable and prone to grow and change over time. Avoid becoming too comfortable or feeling stuck in your current job—I switched gears nearly a decade into the career I had always strived towards.
2. Your ideas are good–just make sure your numbers work… and if not, work on your idea until they do
Belief in a great idea is only half the battle—you have to make sure all of the fundamentals are in place to execute your vision successfully. Before you go ahead with any project, task yourself with answering a series of preliminary questions: is this idea viable? Is there a gap in the market? Does my service/product fulfil consumer needs? Do my numbers add up? If the answer is no—it’s fine. Work until your idea does. Until then, it will be difficult to back yourself—and even harder to convince others to back you!—and parlay your vision into a real, profitable success.
3. Engage professionals where necessary
In the process of building any new business, it’s normal to juggle numerous hats while you’re still gaining traction. Allocating budget to every facet of the business can be an impossible balance to strike in the early stages of your business, but it’s crucial to outsource professional help as soon as you can.
At Bed Threads, we learned this the hard way—in the initial stages of the business we pooled investment away from photography and technology, and to use a cliché, got the job for which we paid. In the end, we eventually sought out a professional team who executed with aplomb. Flag these opportunities for outsourcing early—recognise these as networking opportunities as well—and hire those qualified for the job to prevent financial or timely loss.
4. Product is paramount
At the end of the day, your product is everything—and it has to speak for itself. Concentrate resources, time and energy into finessing your offering. In the same breath, there is always room for improvement so take time to launch your product—but don’t miss an opportunity to capitalise on the momentum of market or trend related to your offering. It’s a delicate balance to strike, but it took two years to create Bed Threads and we reaped the benefits of that hard work as soon as we launched, selling out of our first shipment in three weeks.
Still, the work is not done once your product or service is available in market. Continue to address feedback, adapt to consumer requests and keep abreast of ways to modify and enhance what you’re doing continuously.
5. Maximise technology
Irrespective of the industry you are in or the service or product you are offering, regard your business as a technology business. Prioritise user interface, the mobile-friendliness of your website across all devices, and expend significant energies on your website design and social media channels.
In this digital world, your website and social media act as visual CVs—be sure they communicate exactly who you are in a way that is efficient and attractive to digital audiences. Consumers are easily deterred by technology-unfriendly services or products and will not hesitate to look elsewhere for an alternative solution.
Genevieve Rosen-Biller is Business Chicks Premium member and the founder of Bed Threads.
Connect with Genevieve here.