Three steps to setting up my startup - TeaTime

Starting a business is exciting - and when you hit upon the idea that means the most to you, your lightbulb moment, you're probably raring to get going. However, starting a business is a bit like climbing a ladder, by which we mean it's easier when you break it down into steps. What are the first things you need to get doing? What are your priorities? And how can you start making your idea reality without getting overwhelmed? We asked Surrey-based entrepreneur Ruby Chan of TeaTime to share with us the first three things she did when starting up her subscription tea business.

1. Met the CEO of Graze

One of the first steps I took, before even setting up a company or establishing a brand, was to get in touch with people who I thought were offering a similar product or service and find out any key learnings which could help shape the development of my own product. As we were looking to set up a subscription service, it seemed natural to approach the most established subscription service brand around, Graze, and ask a few questions.

After a bit of research, I managed to get in touch with Anthony Fletcher, the CEO of Graze, and approached him directly to set up a meeting. He was extremely generous with his time and I was able to take away some key learnings which were crucial to the establishment of TeaTime in its early stages. It can be rather daunting approaching companies, especially if they are direct competitors.  However, most companies understand that everyone starts from somewhere, and if it's a concept that they may consider a viable business idea, there is often the desire to get involved or be in-the-know during the early stages.

2. Carried out market research

This was absolutely crucial for us to ascertain the initial parameters of our offering. Sometimes it can be difficult to view your product offering from another angle, especially if you have been closely involved with the development from the start. We selected a group of 100 samplers of various backgrounds - housewives, corporate workers, students etc - and gave them a selection of our teas to try with specifically targeted questions.

Through market research, we were able to find out so much such as acceptable price points, favourite blends, initial points of feedback etc. Whilst I firmly believe in the philosophy that consumers don’t always necessarily know what they want until they have it, it is also important to have some sort of starting point in the form of feedback gained from market research. They act as a crucial guideline during the early stages when you have no brand power and thus little opportunity to communicate directly with the general public.

3. Register a domain

Simple but important- once you have decided on a name and website, register it as soon as you can, before somebody else does! Domain names can be bought for just a few pounds a month,  but once they are taken up, it can be a real pain to secure them from the existing owners. Don’t be afraid also to look at new extensions (such as .co, .me etc). There are absolutely tonnes of them, and as long as you use it in conjunction with another online promotional platform (i.e Twitter, Facebook), there should be no reason why people cannot find your site.

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