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#SelfStarterStories: From Head of Sales to becoming the Founder of a craft spirits members club

Today’s #selfstarterstory features Daniel Humphrey, Founder of The Summerton Club.

The Summerton Club is a craft spirits members club. We curate and deliver only the finest aged alcohol from around the world (brandies, rums, whiskies and more) directly to your door. You choose the frequency for your premium spirits subscription box, then we do the searching so you relax and enjoy the drinking.

PickYourself caught up with Daniel to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.

What was your last job?: Head of Sales at Primal Pantry, a fruit and nut energy bar brand.

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: When you start a business you need to always pick yourself. Believing in yourself is vital, it's what gets you through the dark days when running your own business (anyone who says there aren't dark days is lying).

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Getting it launched. There's a lot of blood, seat and tears that goes into a business before anyone even gets to see it. During this period there are no customers to let you know you're doing things well, there's no data to check against, no rewards from the business going well, just lots of work.

The Summerton Club website October 2018

The Summerton Club website October 2018

What is your favourite business book and why?: I'm not a fan of business books, they've never interested me.

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: It's impossible to do everything. I have brought in the support of experts to improve my output, as well as let me focus on key areas. We have outsourced our warehousing and supply to an experienced firm, ensuring our customers get first class service.

With the support of a marketing manager, I have been able to improve how potential and existing members interact with us. I'm happy to bring in help to ensure the service our customers receive is improve.

What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Social media provides a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with your potential customers and allowing them to see your business' character. Social media fits all budgets and in my opinion is the most efficient use of your marketing funds.

How do you market your business?: With our budget we still can't do all that we want, so have chosen to focus on social media marketing and blogger engagement programs. With both you need to be aware that they can backfire and you are not in control of all conversations about your brand, Social media allows people to engage directly with you, and not all engagement is positive. With bloggers, they share their views and opinions, and some may not like what you do.

We also try to do some of our own PR, something we need to develop going forward.

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Social media advertising and responding quickly conversations with potential customers, thus showing that we cared. We want our members to feel like they are getting a personal service.

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: As well as the local paper feature, we have been pushing our presence with social media, which has been an effective means of driving traffic.

Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: My dad, he has supported me the whole way through. I would say thank you for believing me even when things were difficult. Coincidentally, the idea for this members club came from looking for this exact thing for my dad as a present. No one was doing it, so I launched the service myself.

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Just do it, get it up as quick as possible, then learn and improve as you go on. And believe in yourself, with that you can achieve anything.

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Gary Vaynerchuk - he's fantastic at engaging with an audience.

To follow Daniel Humphrey’s journey you can follow him on his social media channels below:

Daniel Humphrey 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.