Marathons and motivation!

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Some of our flockers did something amazing today; they completed the Dublin marathon! With every step they took, they raised money for a great cause, Cancer Research. Running a marathon isn’t just a tremendous physical challenge, it’s also a huge mental and emotional challenge so well done! If you haven’t already, please show your support at http://www.justgiving.com/philippahill0301

Here at the nest it’s got us thinking of the challenges we’ve faced and overcome, and the ones that we are yet to encounter. To date we have; incorporated a company, designed a logo, defined our vision, completed market research, scoped an international supply chain, created a website, launched social media and finalised our product design! Phew, we’re tired just looking back! Our marathon isn’t done yet though; our next milestones will take us through raising finance and launching our marketing and sales strategy. All to bring you the very best cocktail experience possible!
Founding a company isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon and in next weeks blog, we’ll share some of our strongest motivators!

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What your cat can teach you about running a business

People start businesses for a whole range of reasons; some dream of fame and fortune; some dream of changing the world. Really, there are as many different reasons for starting a business as there are people in the world.
Once you’ve actually started a business however, you have to actually you run a business. It seems obvious, but it is surprising how many entrepreneurs get caught up in the adrenaline rush and forget this. And there are only ever two reasons for running a business; to win and to retain customers.

People get a cat for a whole range of reasons as well. Some dream of a warm welcome home; some dream of a quirky sidekick. Really, there are as many different reasons for getting a cat as there are people in the world.
However, once you have brought little Felix home, every cat owner will tell you: you will start running your house for two reasons only – to win and to retain your cat!

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This is one of our skylark’s cats, taking the cushion a bit too literally!

If you’re thinking of starting a business or want to improve one – get a cat! They don’t care what plans you’ve made, who’s around, that you might actually enjoy 8 hours uninterrupted sleep. In their mind, you are there to make their lives as comfortable as possible and your comfort is not only not important, but is actually irrelevant!
In today’s information and technology rich age, many customers will take same approach and the most competitive businesses will develop techniques to please these customers without burning out their talent. With this in mind, there are three lessons your cat can teach you about running a business.

1) Don’t leave anyone out! Anyone who has accidentally left their cat out overnight knows the kind of grief that leads to: you certainly don’t want a customer in that situation. Use all the tools at your disposal to include your customers at every opportunity. Make your virtual presence easy to interact with. Treat your website as a virtual catflap for your customers, it allows them to come and go with the freedom they need.

2) Have everything needed clearly laid out. Once in, cats will acquaint themselves with the location of the most important things first – food and warmth. Know what is important to your customers, and make it easy to find and consistent!

3) Take time to build a relationship! All cat owners know the feeling of triumph when a cat comes running to you for affection, especially when they choose you over someone else. In business, there is no better feeling than customers running past competitors to do business with you. In both situations, it will not happen over night! Take the time to know your customers. Respect their boundaries. Allow them to come to you.

A day in the life of….

We all gathered here at the nest on Friday and Saturday, for our biggest task yet – establishing our supply chain! We created a list of contacts, and set ourselves deadlines. Then came exciting news; our email addresses were configured, officially making us skylarks!
Now these were done, we were able to start our market research (which many of you answered – thank you!) to determine popularity and viability, asking questions about the name, the price, the designs and accessories etc. We were ready to begin the journey of the Cockpot™! As you can imagine feathers were flying as there was much excitement in the nest as our dreams were becoming a reality, the Cockpot was and is go, go, go!
This meeting was much longer and intense than my narrative of it, lasting a total of 10 hours over two days. It’s a well known fact that any start up requires a huge amount of commitment and energy, as well as support from friends and family. Here at Skylarks, we’re no less committed or energised, but it sure helped when we finished the meeting off with ordering pizza and watching Sex and the City!
We’re well on our way – 2014 is set to be ‘The year of the Cockpot™’ (in quotation marks because I said it, not someone famous.. Yet!)

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Feedback is an opportunity – embrace it!

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What’s in a name?
Ok – let’s talk about our beloved Cockpot’s name.
It all started one evening long ago. Cocktail hour had started – it was a nest favourite, peach schnapps, apple juice and lemonade. They were going down well, maybe a little too well…the trips to the bar were seeming all too frequent when I spied my underused teapot sitting there all innocuous. A deviant lightbulb switched on in my head! Why not mix the drink and serve it from a teapot? A teapot without tea is a pot, put a cocktail in and you have a . . .
That night, the forefather of all Cockpots was born and the rest, as they say, is history!

It has caused some issues along the way, this was one of the first responses we received when we were conducting market research.

“I think that you should change the name. Sounds like a good idea, but not with that name: seriously, you know what I’m thinking so reread your own post: ‘there is absolutely a gap for it and we are so excited about filling it’ then from your description in the survey: ‘have a stiff one’. Honestly????”

Oops.

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, really.
Being truthful, this feedback ruffled our feathers. We thought it over, again and again and then we decided to take this feedback as a learning opportunity. In a startup, or indeed any organisation, feedback is communication from customers and is always valuable. The ability to ‘reframe’ a situation is a core piece of the adaptability that all successful start ups must have.
As a result we decided that, although our name would not change, our tag line did. Although it made us laugh, ‘pour yourself a stiff one’ was giving the wrong brand image and was ultimately running the risk of damaging our product. We understood that combined with our name it did give a risque impression and this is not at all what our brand or product is, we are playful and elegant!
We thank people for giving us feedback because without it, we would not be able to improve.

What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever been given?

And we’re off!

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So there’s been much excitement in the nest this week with getting ready for our social media debut! We’ve been blogging, pinning and planning content to delight and amuse you, so we hope you enjoy. There’s nothing we like more than chatting to you lovely people, so we’ve made ourselves as available as possible on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, and YouTube is a work in progress. Please feel free to get in contact and let us know what you like and what you’d like to know!
We’ll be posting content on social media throughout the week to celebrate our launch, please show your support by liking and sharing our pages – have a go at a re-pin or a retweet if you could, it makes us feel special 🙂
We’ll be posting blogs at least twice a week, one around what we’re doing and one to share our thoughts as we start a business and navigate the learning curve! If you have an idea for a blog topic, please message us or email enquiries@searchingforskylarks.co.uk 🙂
Thanks for reading, we hope to see more of you as we journey on!