Thursday 7 March 2013

2Inspire Profile - Mothers Day Special: Net2Nana

In this profile we meet Belinda, the Founder of Net2Nana a fabulous online gift boutique speciailising in gifts for Grandmas and Mothers. Be inspired by Belinda's story just before Mother's Day and visit the site to treat the special woman in your life!

1/ Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

I love to login to my online store 1st thing and see what orders have come in through the night! A lot of my customers are expats and Armed services personnel who are ordering gifts for their mums & grandmas in the UK. Then, after getting my family off to school I focus on office admin. Like a lot of small businesses social media plays a large part in building my brand recognition but I try to stay disciplined and limit the amount of time I spend on twitter/FB during the day! After that it's checking/ordering stock, speaking to suppliers then a quick lunch before I start to gift wrap and prepare the orders ready for dispatch.

2/ What made you start the business and how did you get started?

After school and college I became International Cabin Crew for 10 years then was lucky enough to have 12 years as a stay at home mum. When my youngest child started junior school and I did look to return to work it was clear that I'd struggle to find something that would suit me so I knew then I would have to create my own employment. I have a lively, vibrant Mum and Mum-in Law who both turned 80 at around this time and my busy, working nieces and nephews inadvertently alerted me to the fact that there wasn't a website out there dedicated to finding gifts just for older ladies. I designed my website with people like them in mind and my typical customer is a guy in his 30's who suddenly remembers it's his Godmother's 75th birthday and needs something gift wrapped and gorgeous sent out to her quickly!

3/ What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

The mere fact that as a woman in her late 40's who left school way before computers were introduced into the classroom, and, who has never worked with technology is running an internet business!

4/ What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Linked to the above - coping with the demands of learning so many new things whilst still bringing up children has been challenging but fun.

5/What are your future plans for the business?

To continue growing the business. At the moment I am really focusing on the SEO side of things, I actually really enjoy learning about this, it's just finding the time to put it into practice. I also want to give back in some ways and feel that many older people get quite a raw deal, feel isolated, past their usefulness and lonely. I enjoy supporting causes that help with these issues and I try to promote the thought that older people are still vibrant and can contribute so much to a fractured society.

6/If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Not much, but I would have realised that unless you have a huge budget to spend on promotion the best way to grow a business is organically. Word of mouth, recommendations, social media etc. are all great ways to spread the word, one just has to have patience (which sadly I don't!).

7/ Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

It must feel a very uncertain world to young women and it should be such an exciting time for them, never again will they have quite such energy and creativity. They deserve support and encouragement to give them the confidence to experiment with their dreams and ideas but many young women don't have the resources and role models to make this happen. Wise, kind older women can be great sounding boards for young dreams.

8/ What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

Find your niche and find out what your end customer really wants. I run fun focus groups where I gather together small groups of older ladies to give me feedback on gifts I'm looking to stock.

9/What or who inspires you in business and why?

Some of the older ladies I meet at these focus groups are incredibly inspiring! They have lived through so much - wars, persecution, personal struggles, women's lib, bereavement etc. I love hearing their stories and realising that once upon a time they were young women with hopes and dreams too.

10/What is your favourite inspirational quote?

I've got 2! I've always loved "This too will pass" - it gets me through good times and bad. But my favourite is about how you should treat others and it applies to both business and personal life, it is from the Dalai Lama and is "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them at least don't hurt them."

Belinda owner of - gorgeous gifts for mums &
Twitter @net2nana

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