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Lisa Angel: 11 things you need to know to build a successful business

PUBLISHED: 12:28 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:27 14 August 2018

Lisa Angel.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Lisa Angel. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Ask for help, be ready to change direction and love what you do, says Lisa Angel, as she lays out 11 pieces of key advice for aspiring start-ups.

Lisa Angel's products began being sold in Next earlier this year. Picture: Nick Butcher.Lisa Angel's products began being sold in Next earlier this year. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Lisa Angel’s journey to business success began around 14 years ago, when she started making jewellery at home to sell on a stall at the Forum.

Now the £5m-turnover business which bears her name has an ever-growing customer base and sells products all over the world from its Rackheath headquarters.

In that time Lisa Angel has also been recognised as a leading light in the Future50, which recognises the region’s most exciting businesses, and in 2016 won an EDP Business Award for its international growth.

As the company’s growth continues with the opening of a second permanent store in Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre, we asked Ms Angel what advice she had for those looking to follow in her footsteps.

Lisa Angel's first permanent premises in Lower Goat Lane in Norwich. 
Picture: Nick ButcherLisa Angel's first permanent premises in Lower Goat Lane in Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher

If possible test trade before investing

Test trade with limited stock, get feedback and test again. Be ready to diversify if needed.

I regularly ask for feedback from my customers, family and friends.

Inside the shop in Lower Goat Lane. Picture: Nick Butcher.Inside the shop in Lower Goat Lane. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Sometimes feedback isn’t what I’m hoping for but it was always honest and what I need to hear in order for me to produce a commercial range.

Ask for help – people can say no, but often they love to

In the beginning I had to ask and accept help from family, friends and other local businesses. I had a lot of help!

Inside the shop on Lower Goat Lane in Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher.Inside the shop on Lower Goat Lane in Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher.

My family and friends would regularly help to prepare and send orders in the early days; beading bracelets on our lounge floor and wrapping parcels until late in the evening.

My dad gave me a room in his house to set up a workshop and my husband and step-dad would come to events to help me set up and pack away. My mum has helped with child care from day one. Without that help I wouldn’t be here!

My business coach helped me reach out to other local businesses which were in a position to help me with advice and resources, and there were a few in particular which helped me greatly.

I couldn’t believe how kind they were and even though they were busy they would spare their time, office space, and expertise to help my business succeed.

Generally I found people love to help and it eases a lot of the pressure. The experience was more enjoyable when local companies, friends and family joined me in developing the business.

Consider a business coach

The start-up of the business was quite daunting and my business coach, Anne Francis, was a fantastic support.

She truly believed in me, giving me the courage to rise to the challenge; I didn’t want to let her down.

Anne helped me to put my fears into perspective and I started to knock down barriers that were in my way.

My confidence was growing and my business knowledge was improving.

I would report my progress back to Anne on a weekly basis and we would discuss any problems I was facing before setting new goals for the following week.

Join a business group

During my start-up stage I was a member of a local business group, and there were seven of us who regularly met up to discuss where we were heading.

The group offered advice which helped me to deal with the everyday business situations that I was facing.

I was also able to share my own advice and contacts when other people in the group were facing challenges I had already overcome.

Speaking about the business in a group helped me to cement the plans I had started to form.

Trust in people

I have a strong team around me who are as passionate as I am about the brand. We bounce ideas off each other regularly and most buying decisions are made by committee to ensure they are as commercial as they can be.

The team take control when my husband and I are on holiday or on buying trips.

In my experience this is the only way a business can survive. I surround myself with people I can trust as I realised early on that I can’t do everything myself.

Create something different, something unique

With many places offering very similar things, I needed to find a niche.

I have always aimed to offer something unique; something that cannot be found in high street stores; something more sentimental, that when given as a gift, is perceived as thoughtful and stylish.

The fact that we offer a personalisation service (engraving a name or personal message) adds to the unique quality of the product.

Be prepared to change direction and diversify

I started off by selling customised T-shirts and jeans as well as a small jewellery range.

I soon realised my lounge didn’t have the capacity to store the amount of sized stock I needed!

Jewellery was always my favourite part of the range and the most popular with customers, it also took up the least amount of room in my house, so the jeans and t-shirts had to go!

Small steps

We have always been careful with decisions and all risks are carefully calculated.

The company has grown at a steady rate but this has been done with great caution as a matter of necessity.

We are self-funded and our profits are reinvested in to the company to help it grow, therefore our capital is always used wisely.

Build a good website

Online reach has brought us faster growth as a business.

Selling platforms such as Notonthehighstreet.com and Hardtofind.au in Australia has helped to generate worldwide brand awareness.

Be clear on your brand values – and stay true to them

From the beginning, in 2004, to the present day, exceptional customer services has been our highest priority.

Early on we made a decision to offer free shipping in the UK which improved sales practically overnight.

More recently we took a further step and we now offer free worldwide delivery. This sets us apart from most other companies.

Enjoy what you do

I love my job, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

I think to be successful you have to love what you are doing as you carry it with you everyday.

You need passion to keep going even when things are tough.

I decided to establish this business to do something creative that I loved and to earn some extra cash.

I didn’t go into the business expecting it to be as successful as it is today.

If in 2004 someone had suggested the business would go on to employ over 100 people and send thousands of orders all over the world each week, I think I would have laughed at them!

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