#SelfStarterStories: From corporate banking to launching an interior design studio
This week's #selfstarterstory features Natasha Gupta, Founder of Blue Feather Design Studio.
#PickYourselfUK caught up with Natasha to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.
What was your last job?: Working in client relations for a large Investment bank in London. Once my daughter was born 10 years ago, they did not allow flexi-time and I needed to make a decision; continue to climb the career ladder or spend time with her. Family circumstances meant it was easy to choose to stay at home. However, I suffered post-natal depression and quickly lost confidence in myself to ever go back to work. This was 10 years ago!
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: As my daughter became older, I felt I was letting her down in not giving her a healthy role model. It took a lot of hard work to get better, I can't pretend it was easy or I didn't feel like giving up a million times.
She was motivation for me to keep going! I knew I didn't want the stress that came with the financial industry. Circumstances changed at home and I had a lot more free time. This was the catalyst to start the business and I decided to launch the Interior Design Studio.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Overcoming fear! It was so frightening to actually launch the business. Fear of failure, fear of not getting clients, fear of not knowing how to run a business. The biggest challenge was to overcome this, and get on with it!
What is your favourite business book and why?: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It's important to work hard but also to work smart. This book really hones in on how to make the best of your time!
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: As I am new, yes I do everything myself, but I am looking to outsource the social media side. It can be so distracting and the cause of procrastination!
What is your favourite marketing tool ?: 1-2-1 Conversations. I love networking and meeting a variety of different people in inspiring businesses. You never know what or who they know, so it pays to start a conversation!
How do you market your business?: I have been really lucky that I have not really had to "market" the business. I have been quite consistent with various networking groups, ensuring people are aware of what I do. Aside from this, I blog regularly and send out regular newsletters. All business so far has been through recommendations and word of mouth.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Through networking. I was also active in a lot of large facebook groups, engaging with potential clients. It wasn't long before I was being approached by clients looking for interior design and project management services!
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: This took a while! Ha! To save money I built the website myself, lesson number 1! It took me so long to do it and I made so many mistakes, I really did wish I outsourced it!
Saying that I learned so much and now have the flexibility to update the website as-and-when I want. I actually update it weekly through the blog! When it was finally ready, I was really excited to share it and get people's opinions.
I shared the link with family and friends and shared it on my personal facebook page. I really was amazed at the response! This created quite a lot of traffic to the website initially. It has only improved since!
Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: My husband. He has always believed in me and continues to support me every step of the way. I would like to say, "don't ever give up on me"!
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Just go for it!! If you have a passion for something and are thinking about the idea of business, chances are you are ready! If you don't try you will never know how successful you can be. Just ensure you are prepared to work hard and surround yourself with inspiring entrepreneurs to help and support your journey.
Don't feel like everything has to be perfect. I took a long time to launch the business because it was never good enough. To be honest it still isn't, but you are your own worst critic. Most people don't notice the same things you do, so just get on with it! The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you have the ability to evolve your business as and when it works for you!
Another important lesson I have learned is to never underestimate the power of good branding. It may seem like a worthless expense when you are new, but investing in good branding from the outset is invaluable.
It gives you and your business clear direction, consistency and reflects professionalism. Your customers will immediately know you mean business!
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Kelly Hoppen - She is such an inspiring interior designer with a wealth of experience and success. She has really brought interior design to a high platform in the UK and made it accessible to a much wider audience.
She not only is a fabulous designer and businesswoman but she is also great at being a public figure! I would love to have dinner with her to have the opportunity to convince her to add some colour into her schemes! ;)
To stay up to date with Natasha's entrepreneurial journey, please find her on Facebook below:
Natasha 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.