Rhian Allen, founder of LoseBabyWeight.com, was the winner of both the Customer Service People’s Choice Award and the Emerging Mumpreneur award.
Her business offers a program to help new mothers lose their baby weight, through exercise, nutritional products, motivational contact, recipes and support.
How did you decide on your business idea?
I was previously working in media. I had been in media and marketing for 12 years, in a pretty full-on role.
For the last two years I knew I wanted to do something different. I had an interest and passion for health and nutrition, so I always had that in the back of my mind.
I started doing a university course in nutrition over two years. Then I became pregnant. I started thinking about how I was meeting lots of mums who had put on weight.
That really started me thinking about how people eat during pregnancy. A lot of people take it as a free for all to eat everything – mothers weren’t focusing on the right food.
That got me thinking about how difficult it is for people to lose weight. I did more and more research and realised there was nothing on the market for post-pregnancy weight loss in a holistic way.
Doctors and midwives don’t focus on it, they have enough on their plate. It seemed incredible that mums don’t have that support post-pregnancy.
I was really educated in the area, but most people don’t understand what they needed to do.
I did more research and found that people were interested. As soon as I knew there was a need for that, I didn’t sleep, I just worked.
I can’t believe it, I worked 20 hours a day just getting stuff done. I had a vision, and it was just a case of putting that into action.
There was a huge amount to get done, as you can imagine. I had three months before my baby was born, when I knew it would get worse, so I was trying to get as much done before the baby was born.
What challenges did you face when you were starting up?
Time was a big challenge. Another was suppliers – having to rely on a number of different people to do things. I found that especially with the web, where getting people to do things on time was virtually impossible.
I quickly managed my own expectations as I learned it would never get done when they said. I think in the web space, there is so much demand that all companies out there want to say yes to every job, but whether they can fulfil it all is a different matter.
And I made mistakes – I used people I shouldn’t have used. The biggest lesson or challenge was getting the right SEO people.
I used the wrong SEO company at the beginning, which caused a huge amount of stress. I paid more money to get the right people on board, and that was really worth it.
But I think time’s been the biggest thing. For any kind of business, it’s never ending. It never stops.
The most important thing is to prioritise every single day. You could end up working constantly. I can’t work all the time.
Sometimes I don’t get everything done, but I make sure I get the most important things done.
What tips would you give other mums looking at starting a business?
I think they should definitely get a budget. A lot of people think they don’t need a start-up budget, but you do. You absolutely do.
The most important thing is to establish how much you’ve got. Then you can work out your key objectives and how to achieve them.
It doesn’t matter how important your idea is, without money, you can smoke that. Even “free” things will need money. Even press releases cost money.
Secondly, make sure you have a good web designer and a good website. It’s a reflection of your business, and there are so many non-professional websites out there.
Also, invest in SEO. It is expensive, and a lot of people say it’s cheating, they don’t want to do it, but it’s just so crucial.
In 12 months’ time, if you invested in SEO, you’re really going to be reaping the rewards.
Lastly, be passionate about what you do. Believe in your product. Have a genuine interest, because if you don’t you’re not going to enjoy it.