How I started my entrepreneurial journey

Starting a new business venture is exhilarating! It brings out my creative side and makes me feel like I’m doing something with my life that adds value. With it – also comes self-doubt. Because its hard to know if you are making the right decisions.

I have asked myself many times if this is the right thing to do. Yet, in saying that – I don’t like to waste too much time on self-doubt because it takes my mind away from other more productive thoughts. Instead, I acknowledge the thought (when i have it) and remind myself of my three key reasons for doing it and then I swiftly move on.

Now – before I get into my recap on the key activities I’ve done in starting my entrepreneurial journey.  I must first tell you that I have never owned a business before, and I have no experience in designing a product. What I do have – is lots of motivation, dedication, and passion. I realise that – that alone is not enough. I will make mistakes (and I already have). My aim is to learn from my mistakes and not spend too much money on them. It helps that with Covid19 lockdown we have no money coming in – so it’s hard to spend when you have none to spare! All my knowledge is coming from either podcasts, google or the Creative HQ Incubator Program. Which is a tad restricted by the fact that the country went into lock-down one week before I was meant to start and we are still in lock-down.

That aside, I’ve still been able to find time to work on four key focus areas. The boxes shown below identify the key tasks that I have done. Some further insights are covered in more detail below that.


Guiding documents


Market research


Prototype prep


Online presence

1 Business Plan

2 Project task register

3 Marketing strategy

4 Forecast financials

5 Brand Framework

1 Online surveys

2 Competitor research

3 Problem and solutions review, incl: scientific journals, online research and chats to specialists

1 Sample materials purchased

2 Fabric tests performed

3 Potential suppliers identified

4 Pattern maker selected

Personal website: tamsinsomerville.com

Started a blog:
enablepositivechange.com

Guiding documents

I started my journey by developing a business plan. I used the template from the NZ central government business support agency. It gets you to cover everything from your timeline and market analysis through to supply chain, product creation and financial strategy. This document has been invaluable in making me think through the multiple elements required and I think it is an essential starting point for any new business.

I use Excel for my project task register. Every time I think – “owww, that’s something I should do”, I add it to my register. Its currently list over 100 tasks that I need to do under key themes. This is guided by goals that I have set myself to achieve over the next 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12 months.

With my marketing strategy I first started quite detailed but then I simplified it into a one A3 page that simply sets out my goals, approach, marketing pillars, product niches, and key messages. It is super helpful!

My brand development framework starts off with elements that I will retain throughout my business journey, such as outcomes, goals, vision, values, strengths, insights, and desired brand experience. But then it moves into elements that I will change over time once my branding is finalised, including words that describe the brand, brand name ideas, logo ideas, as well as colors and fonts I like.

Market research

I used Survey Monkey to test the market viability of my product. I avoided friends and family because I needed the results to be honest. I sent out about a hundred emails and received 40 responses. The results were clear – progress forward!

My second survey tested my six possible brand name ideas and the associated tag lines. The results were not overly clear. Everyone thought differently. The best advice I received was by reading a book called Hello my name is … Awesome.

Prototype development

Arguably my hardest task to date. I have ordered and tested more fabric samples than I care to admit. This has been my biggest expense to date, and I have now learned the importance of asking more questions prior to excitedly ordering the fabric of my dreams. Finding the right fabrics is so much harder than I thought it would be. Especially finding sustainable fabrics that will work.  Note to self – when designing my next product – hire a professional!

Online presence

I developed a personal website because I thought it was important that if people wanted to learn about me, they would be able to. I paid US$50 for a domain name and website hosting for a year. This included an easy website template, which had me up and running in a morning.  

I developed my blog so that I could share the reasons of why I was on my entrepreneurial journey and share some tips along the way.

My next website development, will be my online retail store. This will not be so easy or cheap. Eek! I’ll keep you posted.

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