Source: Perfect Packaging
It sounds like a daft question I grant you but with the introduction of the CLP (Classification, Labelling and packaging) regulations it appears that all candle makers will have to increase the number of warnings and pictograms on their safety information. One of the pictograms is the ‘potentially hazardous to aquatic life’ which shows a picture of a dead fish! Now whilst I appreciate that burning candles can be dangerous if you do daft things, the only way I can see that they’d be dangerous to fish is if you tried throwing them into the water with such force that you stun the poor little blighters….
One of the other warnings is the exploding chest signifying that breathing the fumes may be harmful to your respiratory system, this does not look good on a scented candle and I can see that if anyone actually read the warning and safety information, they may be quite put off by this one!
The best one for me is that we might even be required to use the ‘caution may be flammable’ warning pictogram; in the same way that I hope a packet of peanuts does actually contain nuts and not just ‘May contain traces of peanuts’, I’d like a candle to be flammable! In fact, whilst I don’t want it to spontaneously combust or explode, I do want it to stay alight for whatever desired amount of time I choose.
Not only will the warning pictograms be required, but chandlers will also be required to identify the skin sensitisers which are present in the fragrance oils used to make candles, wax melts, reed diffusers and other home fragrance products. Thankfully the majority of suppliers are stepping up to the mark and updating their MSDS’s accordingly making our job a little easier however it will still mean a small tome will accompany each and every product – happy reading everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, I can absolutely see the need for international warning and safety symbols which cross the language barriers; images that allow people who have allergies and sensitivities to choose to use products which won’t harm them. I understand that for people whose health can be adversely effected by certain chemicals there is a need to be advised as to what may be ‘hidden’ in a product and I do feel this new legislation may help to filter out those who think that making candles is easy BUT what I really want to see is an internationally recognised pictogram for ‘take responsibility for your own actions and safety’ or ‘common sense required prior to use’!
When I took that leap of faith and left my last corporate role in October last year I ended nearly 20 years of employment by global and significant UK companies. I walked away from pension schemes contributed to by my employer, paid holidays, paid sick days, private health care and many more of the other ‘standard’ benefits, but I knew it was the right decision and the right time to do it.
What amazed me wasn’t the number of people who were envious of the fact that I was getting out of the corporate world and into one of uncertain self employment, but the number of those who said “you’re lucky though, you run your own business…” The first time someone said this I was a little taken aback as I didn’t think I was lucky, just that I’d worked hard at it. I always thought my colleagues and friends knew that I worked part time mainly to be able to do the school run and manage my childcare with minimal stress but also as I had a small hobby business which was doing really rather well.
After a few people had commented suggesting that luck was a feature in my life I did have to resort to replying that an awful lot of hard work had gone into that luck over the last nearly 10 years. This reminded me of something that Steve Jobs is quoted as saying “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time” and it is so very true.
I registered as self employed trading as Lubylu in Feb 2005 and 10 years on, I’m now Lubylu Ltd and running my own business as my full time career. It’s a small business and it’s got some serious growing to do before it’s the well known and respected brand and company that I know it can be but it’s mine and I run it the way I want to run it. It’s been all these years in the embryonic stages, learning what I want to do, how I want to do it, what I’m good at, what I need help with, deciding a vision, trying, failing, trying again and learning each and every time, and there’s still a world of learning and opportunity out there but I’m excited about the adventure.
My point is this, there really is no such thing as an overnight success, even when a person has achieved great financial rewards and personal satisfaction in what appears to be a short space of time. It’s probably the case that it wasn’t their first idea or attempt and that their entrepreneurial past is littered with quiet failures and maybe even some spectacular losses but that one great moment is all people see. So don’t worry if what you want to achieve isn’t happening for you right now, keep at it if you love it and it drives you, if it doesn’t, it’s probably not for you anyway.
I managed to catch The One Show the other evening which featured a short clip about Anita Roddick, her life, her work and her children and those who know me know that I have a great respect for Anita and how and why she ran her business. One quote from her auto biography is a sort of mantra to me ‘If you do business for the right reasons, the money will come’.
I completely agree with this sentiment which is why one of the main foundations of my Lubylu business is that I want to create a brand that people want to buy and run a business that people want to work for. I’ve probably been quite naïve about some elements of business at times, especially the costing and charging side of things as I want everyone to be able to afford to buy Lubylu creations, even if as a little ‘lipstick’ luxury, but a very wise lady, Melinda Coss, pointed out to me that it’s only by making real money that you can truly support the causes you believe in and to do that, you need to charge appropriately for your products. Melinda had read Anita’s book as well and this was her take on how and why The Body Shop was run the way it was.
The One Show featured an interview with one of Anita’s daughters, who continue to run the foundation which she set up to support the causes which Anita championed. One very interesting statement she made was that she and her sister often resented the Causes her mother and The Body Shop supported, as her parents worked so hard all the time they often felt that they had to compete for their Mother’s attention, which at the time she resented. This made me think of an article I read in The Huffington Post by Linzi Boyd about ‘having it all’ and how to juggle a successful career or business and a family.
Whilst I do fully acknowledge that it must be so much easier to plan and juggle your time when you can afford the right team around you, it was more the element of Linzi’s article where she expresses the ideal that when you work so hard that there is a chance your family life is suffering, is not better that your family see you doing something that you are passionate about it, something which excites you and which you know can make a difference?
I often worry that I work too many hours, that my daughter hears me say ‘I’ll be there when I’ve just finished this…’, ‘just give me two minutes sweetheart’, ’I’m too busy…’, too often and when she says ‘Mummy, if you’re not too busy, can you watch my new dance?’ it breaks my heart. But at least I know that now I am running Lubylu as my full time (more than full time) occupation, I am doing something that makes me come alive, something which I have passion for and that I believe in, and that I know shows through and is a positive influence on our small family.
I remember the feeling of excitement well. People at work would ask you have you booked a holiday this year, “We go on 15th.” I’d reply. “Ooo how long are you going for?”, “Two weeks!” I’d grin, “two weeks away from this place” I’d add and I meant it, I really did. I could put my out of office message on my email and forget about work for two whole weeks, relax, enjoy the break and truly recharge my batteries.
Can I afford it…?
It’s the not the same when you run a small business or are self employed, not the same at all! You still look forward to the break, the change of scenery, the opportunity to sample local food and drink, even if it is just a San Miguel in a bar on a Spanish Costa (it tastes so much better in Spain, just as Guinness is a different drink in Ireland but I digress…). The excitement is still there, the longing for a break still palpable but when you run your own small business or are totally self employed it is tinged with apprehension ….
How will my business survive without me? Will it survive without me? Will my customers still be there when I get back? Will they actually miss me at all (which could even be worse if they don’t)? Can I really afford not just the holiday but the loss of earnings? If any of these burning questions ring a bell, rest assured you’re not alone, we all have these same fears and conflicting emotions but the simple answer is that you can’t afford NOT to have a break.
Clear your mind to think clearly
Time away from your business can and will actually be amazingly beneficial for its development. You’ll have time, head space, a change of scenery and a new set of inspirations which can help to create the necessary room for ideas to be planted as seeds, germinate and be developed to fruition once you return home. Use this time wisely, give yourself a chance to clear your mind and actually think, Not just fire fight everyday situations, actually think, plan, ponder, dream, you’ll be astounded at what you can achieve and in a very short space of time.
If you can see your break as a chance to recharge and regroup not just your personal batteries but the power source for your business, you as a whole, you’ll be able to visualise the opportunity that a break can provide. For creative businesses such as Lubylu, it’s a chance to step away from the wax, put the lids on the fragrance oil bottles and to have a proper think about what I want from the future, where do I see my business going, what goals do I want to set myself, who do I need to talk to when I get back in order to achieve my goals and what further work or research can I do?
I use my time away to enjoy my family and friends, use them to bounce new ideas off, talk wildly about ideas and dreams for the future (never underestimate the power of day dreaming) and to give my business and creative brain time to grow. I’ll admit that I’m not the best at letting go completely (I’m writing this by the pool by the way). I still update social media profiles (set up a Facebook business page as a favour for friends while I’m away – The Sun Deck Cala Millor) check emails and field inquiries but not having the same time pressures at home gives you the space and the freedom to develop new ideas, explore inspirations and aspirations and provide you with a valuable source of development for when you return. And the best bit is, you can do all of this and still relax… As I said, Can you afford NOT to take break?
I’ll let you into a little secret, I might make candles and lovely, pretty scented melts but at heart I am a bit of geek. I love numbers, stats, information, data, spreadsheets. I used to be a database marketer and a business analyst, I guess it all kind of fits in a way. So, it isn’t that much of a surprise that I LOVE Facebook’s insights which are available on business pages.
If you use these insights carefully and to their full potential you can reach the exact people who are wanting to see your page and your products, and who want to interact with you, it’s almost like being introduced to a friend of a friend and finding out you have so much in common that you arrange to meet up for coffee the next day, only there are lots of these people and they all potentially want to buy what you’re selling or talk to you about your business.
When you go into the insights section on your Facebook page you can see an overview of your pages stats for the last week. This is nice to know especially if there have been any specific spikes or drops however the really juicy information in terms of who you are talking to can be found on the ‘People’ tab.
The people section shows you the demographics (the who and the where) of the people who are engaging with your page. These are the people who like your page and your posts, see your comments, shares and photos and have interacted with your page in some way. You can see whether they are male or female, their age bracket and even where abouts in the country and the world they are from. Sometimes this information may surprise you, for Lubylu it’s no surprise that 75% of my engagers are females aged between 25 and 75 years old and most live in Leeds (I’m based near Leeds and do events locally).
You might be thinking, ‘that’s all well and good but how does this help me?’ It helps by allowing you to target your products, posts, offers, tone of voice of your emails and other communication, appropriately. It means that you can afford to trial boosted posts as you can target who sees them more effectively and so increasing your CTR (Click Through Rate) and subsequently your conversion from someone being a little bit interested into a sale and even better, into a committed and valued regular customer.
The old rules of sales conversions, back in the days before the internet (yes I can remember that far back thank you), used to be the 100, 10, 1 rule. You contact 100 people, 10 might be interested and 1 person will buy. That was when you contacted 100 people in general not 100 people who have shown, by they previous behaviour, that they potentially might be interested in what you have to offer. Conversion rates of 20% are not unusual when the message is targeted correctly and the message is one which consumers want to hear.
The power of this tool, especially for smaller business, is amazing as it allows you to spend your no doubt quite small and very valuable marketing budget most effectively and with the best chance of success. Use it wisely, test it, monitor it but most of all don’t ignore what is suite of very valuable marketing tools which are being provided FREE.
Enjoy meeting your new customers
http://www.lubylu.com firstname.lastname@example.org @lubyludesigns