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MY START-UP DIARIES. PART 1: LAYING THE FOUNDATION

Over the past few years, I’ve launched a couple of businesses with varying levels of success. This series titled “my start-up diaries” documents my personal journey on my latest business venture - a gift and experiences service. In my mind, the journey started many years ago. However, first active step in setting up the business were taken sometime in 2016.

By documenting my personal experiences - everyday challenges and successes – I hope to be able to share some key lessons with other budding entrepreneurs. We would also like to hear the experiences of other entrepreneurs, so we can learn together.

The very first things we did were:

  • Discovering the lightbulb moment
  • Roughing up the numbers
  • Naming the "new born"
  • Protecting assets
  1. Discovering the lightbulb moment

The first step to any business is the business idea - the concept or the problem that the business is expecting to solve. This idea could be completely new, could be an evolution of something that exists, or could be a duplication of something that exists. 

See: 5 Winning Strategies for Generating New Business Ideas

Some entrepreneurs have a AH-AH moment or lightbulb moment when there is a sudden realisation of a problem. This is what happened when Einstein discovered the light bulb. However, for many, the business idea is not such a profound moment in time. Our venture was one of those – it is a replicate of something that existed in order markets.

A few years back, I needed to choose a gift for a friends’ 40th birthday. It was an agonising troll through online and offline sites. I asked other people for ideas and they suggested the same-old-same-old stressful options - fabric, jewellery, handbags etc. All of these required trolling through different shops. I wanted something that would be different and unique; something she would remember beyond the fading of the latest fashion. Buying gifts for men is a completely different story.

At that point, I remembered a website which operates in the UK that offered a range of experiences as gifts. I thought this will be a great idea for the Nigerian market. This was the birth of the business idea.

  1. Roughing up the Numbers

It is always recommended that any start-up should begin with having a business plan. In an ideal world, this will be a nicely polished document. Such a document is important for two reasons. First, it helps the entrepreneur to identify different aspects of the business and their respective operational requirements.. Initially, a rough-and-ready plan could suffice for that purpose. However, where a business is looking to raise funds or bring in external investors, a more detailed and “polished” plan is essential.

See: Business Planning Series

For many months, I thought about this idea. I knew there was a market need. But at that time, I did not go as far as quantifying or validating the need. We also had a rough idea of the cost of setting up this business and how much we were prepared to invest in setting up the business.

Despite our approach, we still advise that all start-ups validate a need and developing a business plan before going ahead with executing their business idea.

Much later in the process, we have now developed our business plan and fortunately, we’ve managed to stay within our target spend. This is the subject of a different blog coming up soon.

  1. Naming the New Born

Soon after conceiving the idea, we started to consider a name of the business. “Project 321” was our working title whilst engaging with third party. But we needed to decide on our permanent identity.

We spent some time with our partners brainstorming various names – some of the options were: Thegift2give, Voucherwithlove, Vouchersandgifts, “GIVODAY and many more like these. Whilst some described the business, none of them conveyed the “essence” of the business. Eventually, we settled on the name “Purple Box Day”.

We love this name, our customers love the name also. It completely reflects the identity of our business.

See our blog on ideas for choosing a business name.

  1. Protecting assets

Once we had a name, it was important to secure and protect the various assets around the name: this included the business name, the URL and other social media assets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). There is nothing worse than deciding on a business name and building your entire business around that name, only to find that the name is already secured by someone else.

We initiated the process of formalising the business by registering it. This process took about 4 months. For reasons best known to the registration body, we could not register “Purple Box Day limited”. After many discussions and iterations, the inclusion of the word “trends” to become “Purple Box Day Trends limited” gave us the green light. [As a side note, we were happy for this compromise as the brand could still be projected as Purple Box Day even though the formal company name has the addition of the words “trends”]

Receiving the registration documents was a major milestone – our first major milestone as a business. We had also registered the social media handles. 

The Foundation is laid

At this point, the foundation had been laid. Suddenly, the business felt real, it was no longer just an idea. The journey for most entrepreneurs is a daily slug and these milestones keeps us going. It is amazing how “simple” milestones such as receiving company registration documents can boost morale. On the day I received this document, I gave my self a day off and enjoyed dinner with friends. Every entrepreneur should take time to celebrate every milestone.

So far, all we had was an idea and a name. There was no real tangibility to the business. It was now time to work on the practical elements of setting up the business.

In the next blog, we will discuss the first practical building blocks for our business – the website.

Whether your start-up journey had a different or similar experience to ours, we would like to hear from you.


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