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Neve’s Bees

“Oh, it was nothing”, “Yes, I suppose we were quite pleased with the results”, “Mmm, I guess it went OK really” – ever heard yourself utter such modesties? Why is it that we, as a national character trait, have a tendency to put ourselves down or belittle our successes? Have you ever thought about entering an award or a competition but talked yourself out if it, convincing yourself that you wouldn’t have a chance, that everyone else will be better…

We have a rule in our home called ‘Maz’s Rule’ (named after our friend Maz). The essence of Maz’s rule is: when in a car park, even if you think the car park is completely full, go to the spot where you ideally want to park – nearest your intended destination, nearest to the parking meter etc. – and there will be a space waiting for you there. Trust me, it works! The obvious mindset here is that everyone else assumed there wouldn’t be a good space left so they parked miles away.

It was with this mentality that we at Neve’s Bees approached 2018. We started the business, just ‘playing’ really, in 2017. From sales in 2017 of just £300 we decided that we were going to make something of the brand and set ourselves a goal of selling £12,000 of our lip balms and hand salves in 2018. It might sound a little ‘pie in the sky’ but we had a very clear idea of what the brand stood for (‘Bee who you want to Bee’), who it was aimed at (‘People who like Bee-ing outside) and an overall vision to share our passion of nature and wildlife and using products as close to mother nature’s recipe as possible. Our ‘catchphrase’ in 2018 was JFDI (Just Do It – you can work out the rest)

In late Spring, I noticed a competition advertised for Start-up Businesses – the prize being to win a year’s listing in the Blenheim Palace shop. At this point, our turnover was around £250 a month – this really did seem unlikely. However, with Maz’s rule in mind and chanting our 2018 catchphrase – JFDI – we duly wrote our application and gave ourselves a little pat on the back. A few weeks later, we were told we’d been shortlisted and were invited to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style evening for the judging.

We were delighted to win The consequences have been amazing: the listing in the shop clearly helped our ‘bottom line’, the chalet in the Christmas market also helped to raise our profile and the connections and introductions have been fab. But, over and above all this, our gain in confidence from the knowledge that someone believed in our embryonic business has been invaluable.

Indeed, we have subsequently entered the WOBAs and recently found out that we’ve been shortlisted – still a couple of rounds to go but the profile growth from this would be amazing… and if we get no further, then at least we had a go – hey, that perfect parking space is not always there!

So where are we now? We ended 2018 with sales of £13,000 – we did it – and whilst this is modest turnover for a business, it’s proven the business model and is a clear indication that this brand has value. With a year’s worth of knowledge about which routes to markets worked (and which did not!) and which initiatives made us money (and which did not!), and pairing this up with the lifestyle we want to maintain around this business, we’ve been able to forecast sales of £30,000 in 2019. What I’m personally really happy about this predicted revenue is that we’ve committed to plough back a good sum of money into BBOWT (Bucks, Berks, Oxon Wildlife Trust) and are delighted to have been chosen as one of their Partner Companies.

If you’ve ever considered entering an award or competition but have never quite gotten round to it, why not make 2019 the year you JFDI!

About Neve’s Bees

Neve and I are beekeepers making 100% natural beeswax lip balms and hand salves using local Oxfordshire Beeswax. All our products are designed to look, smell and feel great. Check out our website: www.nevesbees.co.uk or follow us on Social (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) – where we post daily about what the bees are doing – @nevesbees