22 Aug Hannah: What I am, what I’m not, and what I have achieved in the last year and a half
What I am
I’m the Founder of Toddle, and we pride ourselves on ensuring you get the best skincare for children. Right from the very beginning, that’s been the goal of our little company, to make sure you get great products for kids made from all natural ingredients.
But while bringing you the best skincare for children has always been the goal, it’s not been easy. A quick look on Instagram would have you believing that you can launch a successful business overnight. I’m always seeing posts trying to sell you a quick dream. But that’s not reality. Reality is doing the work, bit by bit, and not giving up.
What I’m not
I’m not an MBA graduate. In fact, I don’t hold any business qualifications at all. I didn’t get my start in business because my parents helped me financially, with their associates, or with a network of influencers. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly inspired by their work ethic, and they certainly weren’t role models.
My parents haven’t supported me (they haven’t spoken to me in 5 years!) but that’s another post entirely. When I first started, I didn’t have any experience of running a business of any kind or size. And to top it all off, I didn’t know anything about skin care – let alone the best skincare for children.
I didn’t get a very good degree (2:2 in Geography) or good A levels, although my GCSEs were ok. I’m also dyslexic, which won’t come as a shock if you’ve managed to read this far!
Sometimes I wonder whether this has made it harder. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long or been quite so challenging?
What I’ve achieved
But what DID I have? I had a network I had made over the years of some exceptional people who were generous with advice, guidance and time. I had a 9-year career behind me in the RAF surrounded by people who just got stuff done. This taught me the importance of eliminating excuses and getting on with the job.
No budget? No people? Still bloody well do it. Bureaucracy or a Senior Officer making it incredibly difficult? It doesn’t matter – tasks still need to be completed – and that’s what I’m trained in.
This determination, no matter what the task, and my resilience to setbacks has kept me going. Write a 30-page business plan and 5-year cash flow forecast? Ok. Go and pitch to 200 people? I’ll give it a go. Formulate a sun cream from scratch? Fine!
Where other people who quite often have more experience, more skills and better business ideas have quit, I’ve kept going. I’ve had failures, of course. Along the way, some things didn’t work out. Some of the products have changed, my initial names for the company were rubbish, I didn’t get into some retailers, and some investors just weren’t keen.
BUT when Boots said they loved it, when I won Entrepreneur of the Year, when I won Pitch It Wales and my first £50k; when we got our first export interest, when the products passed their testing and got universal approval in consumer tests; when we successfully completed our Vegan transition, received PETA approval and the Green Growth Pledge; when we reached 3,000 followers on Instagram; all these wins make it worth it. And there have been enough of these little wins to keep me going.
So don’t believe anyone on Instagram selling you a quick dream (I know you don’t, I have wonderfully cynical friends)! It will be bloody hard, and there’s no way around that.
I don’t mean to sound cliched, but if you really want something, then do it. Just write the first sentence of your business plan, try out your first logo, arrange that coffee with an investor for some feedback. Setting up a product business to the point it’s ready to launch is hard, overwhelming even. But writing just one sentence of the business plan to say you’ve started? That’s not so hard, is it?