We were lucky to be asked to speak at a Virgin StartUp Event, hosted by WeWork Aldgate, about “How to set up a business”. By we, I mean my M.Y.O co-founder and partner Sam Lehane. On the panel was Co-founder and ex- COO of the furniture brand many of us love - Made.com (started 2010), as well as Frankie Fox, founder of delicious beetroot ketchup The Foraging Fox (started 2015)! It was such an honour to share our M.Y.O experience (started 2017) along with these guys, as M.Y.O was by the far the tiniest company and we are newbies to the start up game.
Quick intro to M.Y.O
Sam and I set up M.Y.O “ Make Your Own” to help everybody explore their creative side – think of it like an art gym for your creative muscles! As charted accountants with backgrounds in finance, we regularly felt that we wanted to do something creative but we didn’t know what, how or where. Once we started exploring our creative side, we found that the benefits were enormous – its fun, perfect for mindfulness, you can make some cool stuff and is tech-free! We just had to find a way to share it with all adults across the city. It is crazy to think where M.Y.O is at now, compared to this time last year when it was just an idea…
So how do you set up a business? Our Story
Following from the above, a business idea remains a piece of your imagination without action. As is often said, the value of an idea is in the execution. How do you create something meaningful to a group or groups of people?
1. Pre – Idea: Commit to a process and timeline
Once you decide you really want to set up a business (whether or not you have an idea), the first step is to commit to a process and a timeline, whilst controlling the controllables throughout. In Sam’s case, he gave himself 3 months to:
The next 3 months were to:
2.. Commit to an idea and get going – don’t overthink it!
So, the next 3 months we:
The key to getting going for M.Y.O was finding a suitable premises, which we did through a magical lady called Sara who let us use her studio space as it had excess capacity. Worth considering this option. We quickly learned some crafts, arranged the first night (with friends, our first paying customers below - Andy & Caz!) and got focused on the job in hand. There was no over thinking, just action and getting organised. 3 months whizzed by.
3. Get better, day by day and week by week
The next 3 months was a period of firsts:
First hen, birthday, big corporate client (Diageo). Once you get one, you can tell everyone you host big groups, reputable corporates, hen parties and birthdays .
We kept learning the business, speaking to our customers, adding more classes, meeting more artists and teachers, and making sure the quality of the product (creative classes) was improved and maintained. We also shared the M.Y.O story and kept...
Getting better, day by day and week by week.
4. Take a break, reflect and ramp it up baby!
We took a break to rest, reflect and ensure life admin (which can quickly slip out of control) was in hand. This might not be the preferred approach for everyone, but we found it useful in giving us the space to digest the first 3 months and strategize for the next 3-6 months: how to go about the business, what funding may be needed (we decided to bootstrap – get a profitable business model, then consider getting investment in the future to push it even more!) and listing more creative sessions to see what our customers (guests) liked.
The next 3 months (Oct – Dec 2017) went by in a flash. 6 nights a week (sometimes 7!), 2 mornings a week, creative team building classes during the afternoons and more classes than ever! Birthdays, hens, big companies, startup of the month, Evening Standard recognition, being interviewed on a startup podcast, more partnering and more! Getting better day by day, week by week. Most importantly, we fell more in love with the idea of providing the place for guests to get creative.
Sam finished with some final thoughts on starting up a creative business:
What we learnt from the other speakers
Julien Callede Co-founder and Ex-COO of Made.com.
Frankie Fox, Co-founder of The Foraging Fox
All in all, it was an inspiring evening and we left feeling pumped for the future.
It’s damn hard setting up a business, but it is well worth a try to change the world (or your country or your town) in one way or another, for the better!
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