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  • Writer's pictureHayley Burtt

How I turned a hobby into a profitable business

I have been running my business Orange Lamb for over 2 years now, and when I started it was born out of a bit of a hobby.

You see I had always worked in and around branding my whole career; I studied website design after college, I remember hating the coding part but enjoyed the design (still the same!). When I worked overseas for Thomas Cook, I designed a lot of our entertainment posters for the notice boards. When I worked at a London theatre promoters I set up a PR and marketing division off my own back to assist some of our acts with maximising their exposure in the media. When I moved on from there, to work directly with one of the artists as her Manager, I helped build on - and fine tune - her existing brand; overseeing TV deals, adding book launches, merchandise, tour poster designs, website design, brochure designs and so on. When I set-up a property company in South East London managing HMO’s for professional sharers, I built our websites and created all of our marketing assets. Alongside this, I started working with a property training academy, delivering training to their attendees, assisting with growing the brand and, you've guessed it, I started building out websites for some of their core businesses as well as their clients too.

In fact, this is something I often joke about, when my first was born, I was finishing off a website design for this company the day after the birth, whilst one of my mates held my sleeping newborn! Bad mother or great work ethic… not too sure!

Fast forward two years, I started writing a blog Family Unfiltered which led me to create another website. I had been getting some great traction on the blogging site Medium and I decided that I should create a simple place to host all the articles I had been publishing. As soon as I put the site online I had a load of people asking who had built-out this brilliant site so I told people, “well, it is me actually, I designed and built it”. Now, at the time, I was enjoying just being a blogger, but the business head in me wanted more. I wanted something I could earn money from. I wanted to run my own business. Build something from the roots up. But, this time, by doing something that I loved.

But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to create. Or what this potential idea for a business could be.

There is a bit of a story to the businesses I have set up in the past. You may say I am a serial entrepreneur or, as I sometimes see it, I have a lot of ideas that don’t go anywhere! Ha ha

There was:

Performer Party - me and two friends were going to run children’s parties and have a side-hustle selling photographs at the end of the party for the parents to buy, a bit like when you go to a theme park and pay a ridiculous amount for that cheesy smiling pic that will sit in a drawer never to be put into a frame. This can’t just be me who does that with those overpriced pics, right?

Big Day Boutique - After my wedding, which I spent months collating and putting together the decorations with the help of my sister, we decided that we were going to rent it all out and build up our stock. I don’t think the items ever left storage again.

Improvate - This was a company my husband and I - along with two best pals - set up when we decided to move into an e-commerce business. We designed, manufactured and sold a baby bath mat that gave a warning if the water was too hot! It did quite well to be fair - some days selling a few thousand dollars in stock - and we were going to add a few different product lines, but we all had different full time jobs going on and it just fizzled out. Especially as the product started to do well and Amazon came in to our niche and under cut everyone. We went from high margin to firesale prices, fast. A good lesson about building your foundation in someone else’s playground!

So, as you can see, a variety of entrepreneurial aspirations shall we say! So, when that first person asked me who created my Family Unfiltered website, it suddenly opened an unexpected door.

Why was it unexpected?

Like so many of us, I let my little chimp (the name for that inner voice that doesn’t serve us, for those who are not familiar with the concept from the famous Chimp Paradox book) or as I call it, my Lion, tell me that maybe I wasn’t good enough. I mean, in my previous roles I had created websites and logos for people, but I had positioned it as more of a ‘bonus’ to what I was actually being paid to do.

Being paid directly for my design skills felt like pressure!

I told myself all the unnecessary negatives “I am pretty much self-taught”, “I prefer building websites on user-friendly platforms instead of Wordpress, tut tut”, “there are millions of graphic and website designers out there that are better than me.”

When I now read these words back, it sounds so ridiculous. After all, what’s the most important thing for a client… the outcome!

Most don’t care how you create it. They care about what you create.

When came along it was like a Christmas present. I could create effective designs quickly and in a way that my clients could use moving forwards!

And yes, whilst there are millions of other designers out there, I have come to realise, there is only one ME.

So I started saying “yes!”. And, before I knew it, I had a steady stream of clients. A website here, a logo there, some presentation slides or a leaflet. I was doing what I loved and getting paid for it!

The other bonus, as a Mum of two young boys, I can work around them. Complete flexibility!

Over the past 8 months I have spent a lot of time working on my mindset, breaking down that negative self-talk that has always held me back. I actually didn’t realise how detrimental it had been until I really started to look into it.

As well as the inner-work, I reached out for expert growth support;I have completed a 6-month business mastermind that has given me a complete blueprint of what I need to do to scale my business. I have found a bit of a niche in my sector and have carved out two fantastic packages that enable me to get involved with chunkier projects and give my clients what they really need to stand-out in their field of expertise.

I now have 90 day goals, a 12 month plan, 3 year picture and a 10-year target.

I have KPI’s.

I have fine-tuned my mission, vision, USP’s and core values. Ultimately, I want to bring businesses to life by creating stand-out brands that connect experts to their audience and getting crystal clear on that means my ideal clients are now coming to seek me out!

Another small thing that has made a big difference is that I work from a desk whenever I am working. Not just on my lap or at the dining table anymore. Sounds silly, but it’s made a difference to the focus and attention I give to my tasks, as well as the ability to switch off when the job is done. Even if I am working late into the evening, I am at my desk.

I have specific timings for client meetings and Zoom calls and I have a timetable of what I need to do (admittedly I am still working on keeping to this - but at least I know what I need to be doing!)

It’s been a HUGE shift, but one that has unexpectedly filled the gaps of everything I dreamed of.

I am a micro-business - right now it’s just me - and that’s cool. I have mastered my craft and am always learning.

I am a female founder.

A business owner.

An absolutely branding legend (maybe I have tamed the lion too much!)

I don’t have a hobby. But that’s because I have a business that within 9 months had already replaced my salary from my previous full time job.

I’m feeling proud of my journey.

Move on Lion, the Lamb is here to stay!

Go stand out in your field!

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