When we started our journey 6 years ago Kelli and I didn’t expect to get to where we are now… Don’t get me wrong we wanted to but I think deep down we never expected to! We had a perception of what it would be like running our own business, a perception that has been built up by society but it is also a perception we now know to be very misleading. It’s not all about flash cars, big houses and four holidays a year…
Fast forward to now, we have designed, manufactured and launched a product with no business or design background. We have met people we never thought we’d be lucky enough to meet and experienced things we only used to dream of. We have been in local news and in American news, we have sold our product in Wales and we have sold it in Japan. We are a company that is selling globally but originally started in my dining room. We have patents and trademarks and can talk you about the different types of plastics and foam known to man. A huge difference to the subjects of nappies and washing powder we used to be pros of!
All these are amazing milestones in our journey and we remember every one of them very fondly but I think last week was a turning point for us when it came to reminding ourselves what it is we have achieved so far. Last week we received our latest delivery. Now usually we have our stock flown over because they weren’t very big orders so we’re talking thirty boxes here and there and it made sense with our timescale. This time however we decided to ship it over. Thirty three days on sea and ship! To fly it would be impossible. The size of the order we needed to place was just too big so we went safe and did our first sea freight.
Delivery day finally arrived (after battling with customs and import. Another thing that was new to us!) We looked at the road and there is this huge lorry with a 20ft container on the back. Our faces full of horror! ‘It’s ok Kel I don’t think that’s all our stock; I think we shared a container?’…. Yeah I was wrong, it was all ours and it took a lot of people a long time to unload it! We were not at all prepared but hey guess what another lesson was learned that day… preparation is a good thing!
When everyone had left and it was just me and Kelli stood looking at more boxes than I could keep count of we gave each other a nice pat on the back. A pat on the back for not being that partnership that failed early on due to conflicting opinions, don’t get me wrong we go there but we compromise. Every good relationship needs compromise now and then. A pat on the back for always being there to reassure each other when the other one gets overwhelmed and a pat on the back for still being us and not letting the perception of running your own company get a hold of us. We may have created the most amazing product since the iPhone (to us it always will be!) but I still love to work in pyjamas and give my kids far too many sweets than a dentist would recommend!! I still drive a 54 reg car and I manage one holiday a year in a caravan. Running a business to me is not about the stereotypical perception it’s about coming up against a battle and having your best friend tell you not to worry because everything will be fine, then looking back afterwards and thinking ‘Yep she was right!’ It’s about having reviews from customers whose lives have actually changed since discovering our product. Having people ring you and even send you cards to express the way our product has made their life that little bit easier. That is what running your own business is all about to me and it’s the most rewarding thing a person can do.
We have had issues and faults crop up with the Solar Buddies but they get rectified as soon as physically possible for all involved. We’ve lost sleep over things that probably wouldn’t really matter to other people, but to us customer service is paramount to a successful company. Without your customers your company wouldn’t be there. But being new and experiencing issues is a natural thing in business and will eventually help your business grow. We feel very fortunate to be on the journey we’re on. In the words of Robbie Williams ‘I love my life!’