In today’s Her Business Story we meet the female entrepreneur behind ‘Don’t Buy Her Flowers’, Steph Douglas
Steph tell us more about your business Don’t Buy Her Flowers
We create thoughtful gift packages for anyone that needs some TLC. Our packages are sent for lots of different occasions – new mums, get well, birthday, bereavement – and we have lots of different options and add ons so our customer can tailor it for the recipient. The main aim is that the recipient feels loved, and encouraged to take a bit of time for themselves.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
A desire for flexibility (although that was pretty misguided as running my own business is harder work than anything I’ve ever done…) – my kids were little and I was looking ahead to them starting school and thinking ‘how the hell are we going to juggle that?’. Probably more importantly, I couldn’t shake the idea for Don’t Buy Her Flowers and the more I thought about it and looked in to it, the more I could see the potential and knew we had to do it.
How long did it take you from coming up with your idea, to putting it in action?
The idea came when I had my son Buster in 2010, so it was actually nearly four years before we launched. I had another baby 21 months later and it solidified the idea for me that flowers are a bizarre gift to give someone when they’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed – it’s another thing to care for at a time when you’re feeling pretty spent. Starting a business felt like too big a leap, so I set myself the task of starting a blog, where I wrote honestly about motherhood and relationships. That went really well and people identified with it, which gave me the confidence that other people had found motherhood as challenging as I had, and the whole idea behind the business at the launch – about giving a new mum some TLC – had legs.
What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?
I think getting started – pressing ‘go’ on the website and telling people – that’s pretty scary. I’d only told a handful of people what I was doing because I needed time and space to get it very clear in my own head. So when we went live it was pretty nerve wracking. Everyone was so supportive though, saying they loved the idea and sharing it. So much so that the website crashed on launch night!
What has been your proudest moment?
Moving the business out of our house and in to a warehouse and building a team has been pretty epic. I don’t know where I thought the business would go but suddenly we’re ‘proper’ and still growing month on month and that feels amazing. It’s also SO much more enjoyable not to be in those first two tough years which were a bit like a rollercoaster, doubting myself or panicking about all the stuff that needed to be done and constantly feeling like I was playing catch up with the workload. It’s more consistent now and probably a lot of that is to do with confidence. I know that the business is great and our customers are brilliant. I can look at the numbers and see how we’ve grown. Those things really help.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?
You can’t do everything you did before and run a business on top. I think women in particular try to do this, and it’s overwhelming. There is always more to do if you run your own business, so accepting that you will never be done and you have to give yourself moments to reflect and a pat on the back at what you have done before you move on to the to-do list is so important. And don’t worry if your social life/homemade meals/general hygiene take a back seat for a while!
What does success mean to you?
Aside from the obvious, like earning some decent money and building a kickass brand, I want balance. I want to be able to walk the slow way to school sometimes or spend weekends with my family and friends and not always feel like I’m behind on work, and while doing something I absolutely love. It’s a big ask, but I think with the business being more established and having a team who are responsible for specific roles, we’re getting there. It took hard graft to get here and some weeks are overwhelming, but it’s generally getting easier.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
I think the emotional and mental side of running a business – the doubts and fears and trying to be consistent rather than letting yourself sink if you’re knocked – is massive, and I don’t think it’s talked about. It gets easier, but that means you often hear from people that are successful and they’ve worked through that phase, so it comes as a bit of a shock when you first start out.
What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?
When you’re 70% sure of something, go for it. If you wait for it to be perfect, you’ll never do it. Ben (of Graze.com).