Carla Lett is the founder of MyBump2Baby, a baby, toddler and family directory. She was a finalist in the Sage Ambition competition, which had a prize of a business advice meeting with entrepreneur Peter Jones. Here, she talks about her business and shares advice on challenges she’s overcome and how her ambition has kept her going.
MyBump2Baby is a pregnancy to pre-school directory, comprising a website and app. It’s quickly becoming a one-stop shop for prospective and current parents.
We’ve achieved more than 45,000 visitors per month to the site in just 21 months. Meanwhile, the directory hosts more than 15,000 listings of groups, businesses and events across the UK.
I started MyBump2Baby as a blog because I’ve always loved writing. While running it, I tried to go to classes and groups with my son George but when I turned up, they were out of date. I had postnatal depression at the time and it took a lot for me to get out the house. This just made me feel worse.
I wanted to create something to help parents and businesses so people wouldn’t be stuck in a similar situation. MyBump2Baby has been developed with parents in mind, which is why I think it has been so successful so quickly.
7 tips to overcome your business challenges
1. Love what you do
I’ve tried different businesses in the past but they didn’t fulfil a passion for me. One idea was selling pre-made hen party bags. I created and sold the bags on eBay but business was slow. I also sold gym starter kits, which included a towel, headphones and some snacks, but that didn’t take off either.
Because I didn’t have a passion for those ideas, I didn’t do enough research before I started and when times got tough, I didn’t have the motivation to keep fighting, so I gave up.
2. See challenges as a good thing
I have faced many challenges. Originally my plan with MyBump2Baby was to have a blog and the directory where we offer businesses free listings. I thought I would make enough money from the blog but this was not the case. Lack of SEO and being a new blogger meant traffic was low and businesses didn’t want to work with me as I didn’t have a real audience straight away.
However, the directory listings got to 5,000 quickly. I introduced the “featured listing” option and charged £4.99 per month. I thought at least 10% of businesses already listing with us would opt for it but not many did. So I revisited the directory and added a town-by-town advertising tier. This means each town has seven adverts that appear on the website and app, no matter what people search for in the local town.
The new model helps us stand out from the crowd. It monetises our directory in another way and opens up advertising opportunities for any business that would like to promote their service to local parents.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask what people want
I launched my business with one wage. We had to get feedback and I had the following, so a lot of our ideas have come from our loyal readers. I sent out newsletters asking what parents would like to see and ran polls on social media. I also spoke to business owners who have listings with us for their feedback.
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4. Do it yourself
I researched everything, from how to grow social media followers to how to attract more paid listings. Doing it yourself makes you love your business more. When I get a compliment about MyBump2Baby, I get butterflies in my tummy because I know how hard I have worked and there is no better feeling.
5. Reinvest in your business
I take a very small wage from MyBump2Baby and literally just get by each month. The rest of the money that’s made is reinvested in to the business. We’ve just launched our new app and we’re about to add a booking system to support small pregnancy to pre-school businesses that can’t afford to add one to their website.
6. Always help others
You should always be kind. I love helping and meeting new people, I wish I could do more to help. If you are kind then people are more likely to recommend you and your business to others.
7. Be proud of your hard work as a business owner
Be proud of yourself and how far you have come. For me, there have been awful weeks and great ones. There have been weeks where I have struggled to pay my phone bill and times where people are begging me for advertising space in their town.
I’ve learned nothing stays the same – what works for one business doesn’t work for another. One week, everyone wants the advertising space and the next week people have spent their budget. As it’s only me selling advertising, it can be difficult to know where to focus my efforts.
The life of an entrepreneur can be turbulent – so just strap in, ride the storm and talk proudly about your business because most people couldn’t do what you are doing. And remember, the hard work pays off and it can be pretty rewarding.
What would Carla have asked Peter Jones?
As a finalist in the Sage Ambition competition, Carla didn’t get the opportunity to have a business meeting with Peter Jones. However, if she did, here’s what she would have asked him:
“What would you recommend when you have taken your business as far as it can go without funding? What would you suggest when you’re the only employee and you can no longer grow your business on your own?”
“We sell exclusive advert spaces on the app and website. They appear to all parents no matter what they search for. At the moment, baby and toddler companies are purchasing this advertising space as they are drawn in when they go on the website to add a listing.
“They only pay £150 for the full year and struggle to afford much more. How do you suggest promoting this to businesses that want to promote their services to growing families, allowing us to increase sales income?”
“We’re launching a new booking system so businesses on our directory can benefit from bookings being made even if they are unavailable.
“The reasons we decided to launch this feature are so our clients don’t miss out on sales, small businesses can add a booking system to their website cheaply rather than creating an expensive bespoke version, and parents can make bookings 24 hours a day. How would you promote this?”
Help from our Sage Business Experts
We’ve asked our Sage Business Experts, who have business and entrepreneurial expertise across a wealth of areas, to answer those questions. Want to find out their answers, which could be beneficial to you and your business too? Download the Ambition in Action e-book to get them – along with more details on Carla’s business story and advice that will inspire you.
Ambition In Action
Want to grow your business but struggling to do so? Download this free e-book for advice from Peter Jones and the winner and finalists of the Sage Ambition competition who faced challenges and overcame them using their business ambition.