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Self-Starter Stories: From Online Marketing Manager to Founder of a Cosmetic Company for Men

This week's #selfstarterstory features Ben Cleaver. Founder of ThatchFace, a Cosmetic (Producing beard oil) company based in the UK.

#PickYourselfUK caught up with Ben to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.

What was your last job?: Digital Marketing Manager for the Open University

Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: Having Testicular cancer in 2009 and undergoing treatment to beat the disease taught me to be thankful for my life. I wanted to give back and help raise money for male cancer charities through creating my own range of beard oil and donating a percentage of profits to charity

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Understanding the minefield of regulation around creating a cosmetic product from scratch and making it legal to sell in the UK and EU. I had to spend a huge amount of time searching for online resources to gain the knowledge needed to meet all the requirements.

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: After a bad day in the office, I decided it was time to stop dreaming of starting my business and crack on with it. I knew that I wouldn't be able to progress at the rate I wanted to in the job I was in and so had the drive to start up with my wife and attempt to make my dream a success.

What did you learn from your worst boss?: To always treat people with respect. You never know when those relationships will come in handy

The Beermat Entrepreneur- Turn Your Good Idea Into a Great Business.jpg

What is your favourite business book and why?: The Beermat Entrepreneur: Turn Your Good Idea Into a Great Business. It was one of the suggested books at university and I have re-read it multiple times over the last 8 years since graduating.

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: We create, manufacture and market our products using our skills as a husband and wife team. I built our e-commerce site using WordPress and worked to create a brand using my background in marketing. We outsource our label printing and shipping but everything else dealt with by us.

What is your productivity secret?: Work in an agile way. We plan our roadmap of projects and then work in small bursts to ensure we get through our tasks.

What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Social Media can be a powerful tool to generate awareness and interactions for your brand. We have found Facebook gives us a great deal of engagement from our target markets by using status updates paired with paid advertising to extend the reach of our messages.

ThatchFace Website September 2017

ThatchFace Website September 2017

How do you market your business?: We use social media and blogs to reach potential influencers in order to get our products reviewed and featured in their content.

This then feeds out natural SEO to help increase our free coverage in search engines. We also use PPC to reach customers at the point of search to try and get them to give us a try.

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Our first paying customer was a family member (who's husband has a fantastic beard) and decided she would show her support for our venture with our first purchase

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: We created blog content for question based keywords and then used Reddit and Quora to answer questions on beard-related threads.

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Take the plunge. If you don't take the risk you will never know what you can achieve along the way. Don't be afraid to fail.

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: I would love to have dinner with Elon Musk. He is a fascinating individual with an incredible product offering with Tesla.

He is working hard to make a difference to the world through the use of renewable energy technology and I would love to talk to him about his mistakes in business and how he moved on from them to create successful enterprises.

To keep up to date with Ben's entrepreneurial journey, you can follow him via the social media channels below.

Ben Cleaver has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.