Dogs inspire local entrepreneur to get a 'Fresh Start'
By David Polkey @ 17th Jan 2011 11:38:41
Thanks to sound, impartial advice and support from Business Link, Julian Kite made a Fresh Start with the launch of East Midlands-based Just Kennels
Julian Kites prized pets are definitely proof that dogs are a man’s best friend. Not only did they provide the inspiration to get the East Midlands entrepreneur back into work, but their upmarket brick-built kennels are also proving a big hit with other dog lovers.
Before Julian had been made redundant from his job as a site manager in Derby, he used his bricklaying skills to build a brick kennel with a twist for his three dogs, Bulldogs Benjamin and Harvey and Staffordshire Bull Terrier Henry. The novel kennel resembled a miniature house, but couldn’t be chewed like wooden ones.
Friends and neighbours were so impressed with the end result, that they suggested I should set up my own business, said Julian who launched justkennels online a little over a year ago. A friend of mine designed a website for me and before I knew it the orders started to come in.
Julian’s designs for the kennels sell for an average of between £800-1,200. His difficulty however, was how to pitch his products to the right market, especially as he hasn’t got any direct competitors in the UK.
Julian said: It was the job centre who suggested I contact Business Link and following a series of extremely useful meetings with a local Business Link adviser - I not only gained confidence but also walked away with some really sound marketing advice about how to promote my business carefully to appropriate targets.
It hadn’t occurred to me, for example, that keeping my prices on the website might alienate potential customers who might otherwise ring me to negotiate.
I was also advertising too generally, but Business Link gave me a useful steer on the best media to go for and how to target my marketing more effectively. All I need now is for a well-known, dog loving celebrity to buy one of my designs! Apparently Paris Hilton has a brick-built replica of her own home for her dogs!
Support to get business idea off the ground
The approach must be working as Julian, who lives in Woodville in Derbyshire, is now getting commissions every month. He added: I’m currently also teaching bricklaying skills to supplement my income, but the long-term plan is for justkennels to provide a comfortable standard of living for my family and I.
I have been really blown away by the quality of advice I am able to access from Business Link - my only regret is that I had not gone to see them earlier. It would have saved me spending a lot of time, money and effort in all the wrong areas. They have been extremely supportive and excited about my business idea from day one, but remained completely impartial with the advice they gave me.
As well as his standard range of kennels, Julian produces bespoke designs to suit individual requirements some of which were recently featured on BBC East Midlands Today. All of the kennels come complete with glazed windows, guttering, skirting boards and a choice of floor coverings. Pampered pooches can also enjoy the darker evenings with external and internal lighting as added extras.
Budding entrepreneurs from across Derbyshire wanting to find out more about the support and advice FREELY available to help them turn their business idea into a reality should contact Business Link on 0845 058 6644, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/eastmidlands/freshstart
Julian’s top tips for taking the plunge with a novel business idea:
Research your market thoroughly the result of this process taught me that I was in a unique position of not even having any UK-based competitors.
Make Business Link your first port of call, through its Start-Up Service you can take advantage of free one-to-one support from a Business Link Adviser. They are impartial experts in their field and the support is free.
Know your audience if you have a niche market like me, take time to find out what potential customers read and what their buying habits are.
If you’ve got a good idea, stick with it however hard the going may initially be.