THIS IS A GUEST POST BY GEM WITCHALLS OF STOCKING BOX - SEE THE STOCKING BOX SITE HERE I’ve always been a massive fan of Christmas – the magic of it, the spirit of togetherness, and the gifts – so when it came to starting up my own business venture it was the obvious inspiration. I’m also a big fan of post, and have tried out a few of the subscription boxes on the market but had never found anything that really appealed. So when I was made redundant earlier this year (not long after discovering that I was pregnant) I figured it was the ideal opportunity to try something new, and decided to combine my love of Christmas with a passion for handmade gifts, to create a new subscription box, and Stocking Box was born.
I had managed to save some money as I knew that redundancy was on the cards, but needed to raise the capital to start the business off. In theory, it should pay for itself on a supply-and-demand basis, but we all know that reality isn’t always quite so neat. I figured out how much I needed to get the business launched and the first box sent out, decided on the contents and rewards, sourced the packaging and set up a Royal Mail account for bulk posting. I then purchased the domain name and hosting for the website and built that, set up social media accounts – then was finally ready to launch the Crowdfunder campaign!
I had never run any sort of fundraising project before, although I had supported a few on Kickstarter and Unbound, and wasn’t really sure how it would pan out. Immediately I had messages from friends informing me that they ‘didn’t believe in crowd funding’ and therefore wouldn’t be pledging for the project – which was befuddling and hurtful at the same time – as well as lots of immediate support from others, including my (non-business account) Twitter family and complete strangers.
The whole thing was surprisingly stressful throughout. It’s really quite difficult to turn off from it, or not to take it personally when only a tiny percentage of your friends and family get behind it, and the whole experience was pretty draining to be honest. We got there in the end, largely thanks to just a few big pledges, and the relief was immense! It was at that point that the hard work really began – it’s a one woman operation and there’s a LOT to do each month. The reality of the situation is that the Crowdfunder campaign was the tip of the iceberg – the money raised only paid for the first box, rewards and initial overheads, and since then I’ve been on my own. The finances aren’t as simple as you might think either - I’m starting to consider re-training as an accountant!
Advice for others considering going down the same route? Be prepared for the psychological impact – I really wasn’t expecting that – because whilst some people will get right behind you, support you financially and emotionally (and sometimes physically!), others will show no interest, or even criticise and mock your efforts. This can really hurt, and the pressure you will inevitably put on yourself can be crippling.
So, here are a few words of wisdom before you start:
- Accept that not everyone is going to get on board and make sure you’re OK with that.
- Be confident in your idea – as long as YOU believe in it, that’s all that matters.
- Do your research! Make sure your idea is new and viable.
- Get to grips with social media platforms first, you are really going to need them to get your message out there! Twitter is probably the most effective for this kind of campaign.
- If possible, get your website up at the same time so people can find out more.
- Do not set your target too high. If it seems large, see if you can rejig things to reduce it.
- Do your best not to obsess – THIS IS THE BIG ONE! - my tip for this is to have notifications sent to an email address that you do not have on your phone, and only check it once a day. Saves you having a mild panic attack every time the mobile pings!
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