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Novello Noades on Nooods and her top business tips

PUBLISHED: 12:44 26 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:45 26 February 2014

Novello Noades wearing one of her Nooods - photo by Hy Money

Novello Noades wearing one of her Nooods - photo by Hy Money

Hy Money

Married to former Crystal Palace chairman Ron Noades, who sadly passed away on Christmas Eve, Novello Noades is passionate about the online wool store she founded last year and her latest design, the ‘Noood’, pictured below. Here, the Purley resident shares with us a few of the things she has learned along the way

It’s been a roller coaster and massive learning curve setting up and starting my online wool shop business – thenovellowoolshop.com.

When I decided to take the plunge and start up, I had very little idea how many diverse issues would need to be dealt with! But I’ve always loved knitting and sewing – in fact anything creative. I’m like a child in a sweet shop whenever I’m in a haberdashery. In modern parlance, “sad, isn’t it?!” As a result, I’d always sewn or knitted garments for presents for friends and family and often thought of setting up a business to sell my creations. It’s my passion.

Then, when I designed the ‘Noood’ (a gorgeous hat that doubles up as a neck-warmer), I saw a gap in the market and wanted to progress my idea. So I decided that as well as going into production – using only hand knitters and 100% wool – I would fulfil my dream of opening my own shop. I wanted to create a first class service for the customer using quality products with an emphasis on natural fibres. l thought about everything I expected and liked about an online shopping experience and sought to bring that to life... and The Novello Woolshop was born.

I had no previous business experience and my expertise and comfort zone were quite obviously in other areas. I was very fortunate, however, to be married to a hugely successful businessman who I was able to get valuable advice from. Although it was less than a year ago, I have come a very long way. I realise how green I was, but I was so enthusiastic about the whole project that I forged ahead like a bull at a gate! When I look back at the last 12 months, it has been incredible how much has been achieved and I am hugely proud of my product.

I met my husband when I was studying to be a teacher. I was always the gregarious, social side of the partnership. This new venture put a completely different slant on things with me suddenly becoming involved in the business world. Ron was very supportive and proud of my efforts, which made everything easier. It is very important to have family and friends you can rely on.

I am lucky to have two wonderful members of staff assisting me and they definitely deserve a mention. I have had very challenging personal issues recently and I couldn’t have got to where we are now without them. Paris had come to work for my husband as a receptionist, but I saw her spark and potential and by huge coincidence her interests and background were perfectly suited to what I was doing. I took on Mollie as an apprentice after fortuitously attending a meeting organised by Surrey MP Sam Giymah to promote the government’s apprentice scheme. Both girls love their jobs and their enthusiasm is infectious. A happy working environment is vitally important.

I appreciate that I am in a fortunate and unusual position, but I feel a lot of what I have learned on this journey will be helpful to anyone thinking of starting up a new business. Each start-up will be different but there are some key points that will be essential to all. A lot depends on what your business is going to be but it should definitely involve something that you are good at and enjoy.

Work is not work if you love what you are doing. You need to be passionate about it, excited and raring to go when you wake up in the morning. Believe in your product and believe it is going to succeed. Most important of all, do your homework. As with most things in life, preparation is everything.

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Nooods, from The Novello Collection, are available through on-line wool store thenovellowoolshop.com (tel 0845 075 6126)

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• This article was written before Novello’s husband, Ron, passed away. Everyone at Surrey Life sends their condolences.

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Here are some of my top tips, not in any particular order…

1) Register any names/products as soon as you can. Buy domain names – they cost very little. If you have designed something, make sure to register with the Intellectual Property Office (it will make it more difficult for someone to steal your ideas). They are helpful and informative and will advise on things like patenting too.

2) Don’t be afraid of failure – you don’t want to hinder your flair.

3) Be prepared to take risks but know what the bottom line is... and stick to it.

4) Plan ahead and budget carefully. Funding is essential. For most people, this will be the most important and challenging part. Work from home initially if you can to keep costs down.

5) Do what you enjoy and what you are good at – work is not work if you love what you are doing. Be passionate about your project and believe you will succeed.

6) Allow for delays and be prepared for setbacks. Accept that things will always take longer than you had anticipated. Learn from your mistakes and move on – and be sure to be absolutely ready when you launch.

7) Use professionals to register companies and to receive valuable advice on setting up – it costs less than you would think and could save you time and money later on. Consider starting as a sole trader – there are tax advantages. You can start trading as a limited company or LLP later on. You don’t need to register for VAT immediately – the current threshold is £79k.

8) Set up your website – for an online company this is your shop window. Look at other sites and decide how you want yours to look. If it is an ecommerce website you will need to research carefully on issues like how you will take payment. Be active on social media – it’s a must.

9) Consider taking on an apprentice – the advantages for both sides are enormous.

10) Seek out and listen to advice from everywhere – from friends, family, online and from other people who have set up businesses. Sometimes the best advice can come from someone who has set up and failed. You can avoid the mistakes they made. All this costs nothing and helps form your own opinions.

11) Accept you have to delegate – you cannot possibly do everything yourself.

12) Do your homework. The key to success is always preparation.

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