This Start-Up Story comes from the Maxine, founder of Digital Bon Bons, who recently launched a second string to her bow as well…
Tell me a little about you & your family, what your business is, and the inspiration behind getting started…
Hi, I’m Maxine. I live in Kent with my husband Paddy and our daughter Ava. We’ve also got two cats and a snake – it’s a mad house. I absolute love film, I’m a big film geek, I love exploring vintage shops and finding kooky things for the house. I love the theatre, art, days out as a family and being on holiday with a good book by the sea.
My business is called Digital Bon Bons. I launched it on 31st Dec 2016. It all happened because I was in my corporate role and just before the Summer I got a promotion, covering my boss while she went on maternity leave. Having this really gave me the confidence to launch something for myself. I’ve always wanted to work for myself but never really knew what that could be or what it was look like so when this opportunity came I finally felt like it was my time to go for it and see what happens.
I knew that I wanted to use my skills and knowledge in digital marketing to help businesses that focused on parents and kids. Becoming a parent myself really opened my eyes to all the amazing small business out there. It felt like the perfect fit.
How did you make the leap from idea on paper to reality with your business idea?
Once I knew that I wanted to do this I started working on the business in the Summer of 2016. I thought about my client, who I wanted to work with and what value I could bring so I mapped out the services I would offer initially.
I then thought about what I would be called and funnily enough about three months before I had a started a small blog called Digital Bon Bons – it combined talking about my passion for digital marketing with a phrase that I always say to confirm a plan “bon bons” (I don’t even know where that came from). So I thought you know what, this is my business name. This is the name.
Once I had that and my offering sorted I started work on my branding and my website. I was at my corporate job still so a lot of the work was done in the evenings and/or on weekend evenings. I scribbled in notebooks any idea that popped into my head and planned the layout of my website in a sketchbook. Then I hit the screen and went about bringing it to life. On 31st Dec, it went live.
How did you get your first sale or client?
When the business launched I knew I had to hit Instagram. I knew that’s where my audience was and straight away made that my main social media channel for connecting with my audience and building relationships. Through this I quickly gained amazing connections and learnt about in person events too to meet people. My first client found me via Instagram and in the year of 2017 to early 2018 most of my business came via this platform and via referrals from the people I had connected with.
What ‘lucky breaks’ or helping hands have you had along the way that have really boosted your progress?
I think the people I connected with above all and the support of my hubby. I made it my mission to build relationships from the off and that was the best decision I made in terms of launching my business because not only did I make valuable friends who held my hand being a new business owner but also they brought business to me which was amazing.
My husband was an amazing support because I was doing the business in the evenings as I was at my corporate job still during the day so my time between that and being a parent was limited so I had to do what I could and grab any spare minute I could so he was amazing in giving me the extra time where I needed it, holding my hand and giving me a hug when it felt hard.
What do you LOVE about your business and working for yourself?
I love the creative freedom of having my own business. That I can chose exactly what I want from it from what I offer, who I work with, what I charge – it’s an incredible thing and it’s all mine. I started working on the business full time in October 2017, so I am still very much a business in infancy. Working for myself is great because it gives me the flexibility that I wanted when Ava started school. It’s also nice to be able to decide exactly what I want my day to look like and also end it knowing I’ve helped someone be it a small or big way – that means everything.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve had to do since setting up on your own?
Going full time on it – by far the most scariest thing I’ve done ( other than becoming a parent) but both definitely have similarities ha ha. It’s such a huge leap and I don’t think I fully got that when I did it, I knew it was huge but I think because I had downplayed the business for quite a long time, not many people knew about it, my family didn’t know straightaway – only 3 people knew – so I think I felt it was something small in a way, but actually it’s a big thing to do.
I think also learning about change and how much you are in control. Businesses do change, you change and my business has definitely evolved from when I first launched. I now work with parents in business not just parent focused businesses, so my audience is wider. I offer more consultancy/mentoring services now and less “hands on”. I know this will probably evolve again. I’ve got no golden handbook, I’ve not been a business owner before and it is an exciting and scary thing but it’s also mine to do whatever I like with, there is no chain of command, no approval needed and that’s very empowering but also it takes a while to shake the corporate mindset that’s for sure.
Who is your support network that you simply couldn’t manage without?
So many people. My husband as I’ve said. My wonderful friend Louise. We met at my corporate job and had our first children at the same time and she was such an inspiration because she had launched two businesses and she was the one who told me to “go for it” – she has been holding my hands, wiping my tears, raising a glass and we’ve been hugging each other ever since the crazy journey began for us both.
My friend from school Tracey is a huge support. My family too although I’m not completely sure they actually get what I do ha ha, but my grandparents always ask me how business is which is lovely.
The people I’ve met online too, so Frankie from Doing it for the Kids found when me I launched and has been so integral to my journey. From Frankie I met Nicky Raby. I met Ruth Kudzi at a networking event when I just launched. I connected with Saskia from Share the Joy as we both launched at the same time and have become such wonderful business buddies. I joined the Mama Tribe when it first launched so have been with Danni from day one. Lovely Lucy of Lucy Green Coaching, who I connected with in the beginning. All lovely people who have been in my journey since the beginnings and then through the power of online community I have connected with and formed such wonderful relationships with amazing business owners, amazing friends. They are incredible and so supportive.
What exciting plans do you have for your business over the next 6-12 months that you’d like to share?
Oooooh so as I said I am still in my infancy really with it, I have just entered my 2nd year of being on the business full time and it’s evolved so I’m concentrating most of all of getting valuable content out there through my blog, podcast and facebook group. Really strengthening my one to one work too and just seeing what opportunities are out there. I would definitely love to do some speaking, that would be fab!
You can find more details about Maxine’s work online on her website and follow her on social over on Instagram. Maxine also recently launched Small Biz Big Moments, which are wonderful milestone cards for Small Biz Owners to celebrate the magic moments in business. How lovely is that?
On your own start-up adventure?
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