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I would like to start this blog with an apology for two things.  Firstly for unashamedly using it to ask for your help with some market research and secondly as I think it might be a bit of a rant!

So since we last spoke I have dedicated some time to ‘learning from the experts’.  The idea being that thousands of people have started out like me and have gone on to create fantastic businesses and that along the way they will all have learned lots of lessons.   Thereby by reading about these lessons I will forearm myself against making the same mistakes myself.  Genius – honestly with thinking like this – surely I should already be a multi-millionaire!

During this I have met (albeit virtually) some fantastic people who have not only set up their own very successful businesses but have also gone on to write interesting and informative accounts of them, to pick a couple of the best so far I would like to mention Wendy Shand (who’s fantastic e-book is even free) as well as Tracey Phillips whose book ‘The Hindsight Handbook: …Everything I wish I’d known about starting an online business” are both my current bedtime reading.

For each of these though, I have come across a raft of ‘cyber experts’ who as far as I can see are out there preaching their expertise without any credentials whatsoever.  It’s absolutely fascinating (and possibly a business opportunity to explore – I mean my son and I draw and colour in everyday – maybe I could become an artist’s advisor?!!).  Apparently some people wake up one morning and think to themselves, “I know I shall become a life coach / networking expert / mentor”, not for these brave individuals the niggling concerns that I get hung up on such as ‘do I actually have any skills in this?’, they just set up their site and get going.  Having just re-read this, I am now thinking maybe I can still learn from them – after all if ever you needed a lesson on not letting barriers stand in the way of success etc etc!

Still I digress, back to the title of this blog.  What is a network?  The resounding advice from all sources is that I need to start “maximising my network”.  My immediate argument against this is that I don’t have a network.  “Of course you do cries my husband”, what about all your friends, the mums you meet, the endless people you always seem to be out for coffee with” (separate rant that I am sure my husband could give if he were given his own soapbox).  I am horrified.  “These are not a bloody network – these are my friends”, they are not there to be used and abused for the sake of my new business (especially given I still have no real idea what that will be).  My husband looks at me in much the same way my 2 year old looks at people who can’t get Peppa Pig up on the skybox in under 3 seconds, “For Gods sake Sarah, I am networked with everyone I have ever met on Linked In and it is a vital way to do business these days”.

He is not the only one preaching this apparently, and according to my new gurus I need to get with the programme (am feeling a little bit smug that apparently my blog is a key step in this so I am at least on the curve albeit not very far ahead).  Henceforth all of my friends are now my network (still hate this idea but will rebel and still call them friends quietly in my head!) and everyone is subject to my unashamed pleas for help.  So far this has meant the loan of some marketing textbooks and more importantly a plea to every Mum I have ever met (in real life or virtually) to help me out with some market research to better understand the UK baby gift market (business idea number one).  If somehow you have not already been emailed by me with this plea, then please see the below as I would very much like your help…………

Rant over for today, I feel a little more focused now as I have an idea and I can now see a path to at least test its feasibility.  It’s not much, Rome wasn’t built in a day however, and I am coming to accept that one must be grateful for small steps and reward oneself appropriately (cue for me to go and have a big slice of my daughter’s birthday cake in return for having published my survey) 

………….

One of the business ideas I am working on centres around developing an on-line site for buying hampers of top end  baby as gifts / gift subscriptions for new mums.  To further develop this I really need to understand the UK baby gift market, or more specifically the premium end of it (for the sake of the survey I have determined this to mean ‘high value’ gifts of over £50).  I need to understand who spends this kind of money and more importantly how and where they spend it.  I have set up a survey that I am aiming to get between 50 and 100 people to respond to to try and give me a better understanding of people’s views and habits.  The information is simply to help me make some decisions around the viability of this business.  I will not be analysing data at the individual level, it is simply for me to get a picture of what mums think.

As an incentive / thank you I am going to select one of the completed entries at random to win a Melissa and Doug toy worth £25.  I will ask for your email address at the end of the survey.  Once again I would like to re-iterate that this will not be held with the data you provide me, nor will it be shared with anyone else.  I would like to reach back out to you if / when I pursue this opportunity but you will be very welcome to opt out then and I can assure you I will not bombard you with e-mails or share your email addresses with anyone else.

Please can you complete the survey by 30th October. 

Survey link – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/giftmarketresearch

Thanks in advance  – I really appreciate the input

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