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#SelfStarterStories: From working in finance to becoming the founder of a personalised wine company

Today's #selfstarterstory features Briony Beckerley, Founder of It's Your Bottle.

We provide handmade personalised wine to suit any occasion. So whether you are celebrating a wedding, birthday or even providing a gift to a loved one, why not have something that’s different from the rest!

PickYourselfUK caught up with Briony to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey.

What was your last job?: Both myself and Daniel (my husband) are both still working, I work in finance part-time and Daniel in Aviation full-time. I left my last full-time position in sales and decided to pursue the business further whilst working part-time.

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: Although we became a limited company back in May 2017 we didn't start selling labels via Etsy until October 2017. In February 2018 we started promoting the business fully and from then have been focusing on ranking our website, increasing traffic and reaching out to individuals to help market our products.

We believe that we are constantly growing and learning each day about owning and running a business. That being said we are passionate about our business concept and would love for it to be recognised further.

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: When starting It’s Your Bottle, generating leads proved to be the most challenging part, it was difficult to gage where our customer base was going to come from and we didn't want to risk wasting precious money on leads that could potentially lead to no engagement at all.

We decided that we would put our business on free listing sites such as wedding directories and local websites to see if we received response via this method.

Using social media platforms was a way of reaching out to the public to advertise our business and find connections through interacting with other businesses and bloggers. We have been very fortunate to work with bloggers and appear on ITV but it has come from excessive hard work and determination to get our business noticed.

What is your favourite business book and why?: The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Because we run our business in line with our normal jobs, we need to be as time efficient as possible.

The Four Hour Work Week really provides tactics on how to optimise time, whether its through Automation tools (IFTTT, etc) to utilising A/B testing methods in Google Ads to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: We use suppliers to purchase the wine, our gift boxes and packaging are provided by a supplier also.

What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Facebook and Instagram Ads are great, you are able to really hone in on your target demographic to ensure that you’re reaching the right people.

How do you market your business?: SEO is a large part of our business, we try to optimise our site so it looks appealing to search engines and also potential customers.

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Before launching the website we starting earning money by selling our products on the e-commerce website Etsy.

At this stage, we were unable to sell the whole package of personalised wine due to Etsy’s policy on no sell of alcohol. Due to this, we were only able to sell the labels. It was a great way to start our business as we learned what did and didn’t work and which of our designs and styles worked best.

When we eventually launched the website for It’s Your Bottle we utilised the experience from Etsy and began branding our products in a certain way, our first sale was earned from word of mouth but our first website order was purchased when we started promoting our instagram posts.

Although each promotion on instagram costs money we were able to identify that this type of marketing was proven to provide sales.

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: My husband Daniel and joint partner of It’s Your Bottle has been extremely captivated by the world of Search Engine Optimisation. After listening to many podcasts, reading a vast amount of business books and learning online, he started to realise that the best way to get traffic was to reach out and speak to people about our business.

One of these individuals was a public relations employee who Daniel had come across after spotting a tweet from the company Lily Pad PR. At this current time we were not in the financial situation to work with the company.

A month later, we received a message from Lily Pad PR about our products potentially being of interest to be featured on a popular TV show, ITV This morning were doing a feature on the perfect teachers gifts and Lily Pad PR believed our products could potentially be used for the show. The feature happened July 3rd and as soon as the feature went live we were influxed with orders and visits to our website.

It's your bottle website October 2018

It's your bottle website October 2018

Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: If we could mention multiple we would, but one person who sticks out the most is my sister Lucy. When we originally came up with the concept, started creating the designs and producing our website she supported us throughout by viewing our designs and sharing with friends about our new business.

Not only has she supported and used her social media platform to promote It’s Your Bottle but she gained inspiration to create her own company. She now creates items, selling these on Etsy, at craft fairs and even has a shop in her town who sells her products.

We have watched her expand and seek our help so it is flattering knowing that what we have created has inspired somebody.

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: It is difficult to take the leap and start your own business, but if I had to give someone advice it would be that if you are passionate about your business concept, never think with the mentality of ‘If’.

Being completely confident in what you want to achieve is possible when you have the right attitude. Expect bumps in the road and negativity, it is all part of learning and what you can do differently. Building relationships is a key factor to market your business so appreciate and acknowledge support.

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: This is so hard! Can I have the Starter and Main course with Tim Ferriss, and the dessert with Gary Vaynerchuk. Both Entrepreneurs have immensely helped with our business. 

To stay up to date with Briony's entrepreneurial journey, please find her on Facebook below:

  facebook | twitter | instagram | website | blog

Briony Beckerley has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.