Tuesday 6 August 2013

2Inspire Business Profile: Anna Seager - Distributor, Designer and Founder of Little crab Designs.

In this motivational interview Anna Seager tells 2Inspire how she managed to develop a business that draws on her previous experience as a distributor. Her company supplies handmade nursery prints designed by her good friend Sarah Howell. Read on to see how Anna manages her business life.
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you? 
My day starts early – I usually have a cup of tea and check emails, twitter and facebook before the family get up and I have to get them breakfast and ready for school.  I also check my calendar at this time so I can see what I need to do that day and can plan my time accordingly.  After I have taken the kids to school I will process any new orders, check stock and frames and get started with any sanding or painting that needs doing – the majority of our pictures are finished in hand-painted frames.  Any pictures that are ready to go will get packed up and postage labels printed off.

I might then do some marketing work such as writing a blog post, do some twitter networking or some online research in our industry looking for PR opportunities, studying the competition and so on. 

In the afternoon before I get the kids from school I walk the dog to the post office with any parcels to be sent out that day.  I usually spend half an hour after the children have gone to bed finishing off any emails and scheduling any tweets or facebook posts for the next day.
What made you start the business and how did you get started?
I had worked as a distributor for a nutrition company when the kids were tiny but this totally took over my life and I was unhappy with the impact it was having on family life.  I was looking for a way to change this, when in the summer of 2006 I was staying with my artist friend, Sarah Howell and she said she wanted to get back to work after taking time out to have her family.  I absolutely loved her work and felt sure the style would work well in the children’s sector and so the idea for Little Crab Designs was born.   She supplies me with the original designs (I do some too occasionally when I have the time!) and I turn them into finished products.  The business is mine and Sarah is a supplier if you like.  I pay her a commission on every product sold that is created from her artwork.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date? Getting a £25 DIY website to feature in the top three positions for organic search in Google for my most important keywords, entirely through my own efforts of learning how to rank well on the search engines.  I created a stable, growing business with no advertising at all.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Watching this go into free-fall about 9 months ago!  Literally, overnight the website traffic dropped by 60%.  This has been attributed to the Penguin updates Google made to their algorithm and I know many other small businesses have been affected.  On top of this, we were the victim of negative back-linking.  Someone had connected some very nasty adult links to our site and again we were penalised by Google.  It has been a huge lesson in how “not to put all your eggs in one basket”!!

What are your future plans for the business? 
We have just launched a new website – the plans were already in place to do this when our traffic went over a cliff edge.  We now have a much more professional looking ecommerce website with hugely improved customer experience and all importantly is now mobile friendly – many of our users are on ipads these days!  It has had a fantastic response and we recently won a Jacqueline Gold #WOW award which has given us a boost in our business credibility.  We plan to capitalise on this, increase our international sales and have some exciting new products launching in the second half of 2013.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think it’s a case of doing anything particularly differently as even the bad has been good in that I have learnt some great lessons from it.  But if I had to say, I would probably not have bothered with all the fairs I did in the early days – hugely time consuming and not very profitable.
 Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
 I think these days the world has got so much bigger with the web and the explosion of social media so I want young women to believe they can do something different – be a “free range human” to quote Marianne Cantwell! There is no need to go down the traditional employed route these days – there are many ways to make money online - you just need to take the first step!

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
 It’s getting quite competitive – since I started there are many more companies out there selling art and handmade items so you need to make sure that your stuff is different – what will set you apart from the rest? Maybe it’s design, or price, or fantastic customer service.  And also – make sure you price your products properly.  I see many people selling handmade items online and when I see the price I feel quite sure they can’t be making any money out of it.  Be fair, but make sure you are earning something from your work – people are happy to pay for quality and something a bit special if they really like it so don’t undersell yourself!

What or who inspires you in business and why?
The Enterprise Nation website has some great articles, tips and advice for small businesses that I dig into on a weekly business.  Pinterest is brilliant for getting ideas and inspirations for new product lines and keeping up to date with nursery d├ęcor trends.  And I have to mention my husband – he is the voice of calm and reason when times get tough and a huge supporter of Little Crab designs.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”    Dory from Finding Nemo! 
Contact Details
Website:    www.littlecrab.co.uk
Email:         anna@littlecrab.co.uk

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