This month I want to introduce you to Holly from Loving Small Business
Holly started Loving Small Business as a way to support and promote small businesses. Initially begun on Instagram she wanted to go beyond just shouting out about how great small businesses are and to find a way to put their products out in front of actual customers. Et viola! In Dec 2020, she launched a subscription box service where each month she creates a curated collection of small business products. The boxes are all themed around holiday events or current events and so far have included a Christmas box, an Eco/ Sustainable box and next month is a Valentine’s box! You can check out Loving Small Business at: Loving Small Business
Q: Holly, Have I missed anything?
A: I think you’ve summed it up perfectly! Feels like Loving Small Business has been running for ages, I have to remind myself sometimes that we are only 8 months in!
Q: Why did you want to support small businesses? Was this something you’d been thinking about for a while?
A: Initially for me, it was about small charities. I knew that the small charities were going to be struggling more than ever through the Covid pandemic and wanted to find ways to support them, whilst doing research I realised that small businesses were in the same boat too and I wanted to find a genuine way of raising awareness and creating channels to support them.
I love supporting charities and am always doing something, 2020’s plan was a mission trip to Ivory Coast which got cancelled, so I put all of my focus into Loving Small Business and this became a vehicle to continue supporting charities and helping local actions, as well as its extended purpose to support the small businesses around the UK.
I have the desire to do more, keep expanding our network and reach, and offer more in the way of resources and education.
Q: How do you choose who you will work with?
A: We see ourselves as partnering with a business rather than being an exchange, we want to form a relationship and build a network which can support each other and use this community to see how we can further help and support and build Loving Small Business around the needs rather than our own ambitions.
Our core values are our criteria we look for in a business to partner with which are. In addition to that we also want to see how other businesses are actioning other key areas such as:
Sustainability – it is really important to us and something that we take into account when looking at the businesses we partner with. We want to ensure that we leave as little mark on the planet as possible and strive to constantly improve, and we feel the businesses we work with should be equally as passionate about this. We always enquire about a business’s ethos and product line, we want to know they understand their supply chain and the ethos behind those and the personal efforts which are going into making their brand having as little impact on the planet as possible. We know it is always something to improve on, it is something we are always learning about and updating our purchases based on, we don’t expect a business to have it nailed especially when they are small, but they certainly have to show a drive and enthusiasm to want to do more.
Our starting point was to make sure that our packaging is as sustainable as it can be whilst still protecting the contents of your box and follow the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra.
Authenticity – We value trust above all else and believe that the key to this is being authentic. We won’t advertise anything we don’t have first-hand experience with or do not believe in ourselves, it has been something which has set us apart from others as we have never based our model on paid sponsorship or offered a shout out for something we have not experienced ourselves.We expect the businesses we partner with to be open and honest about their company, who they work with and how the products are made. We love that people are using their talents to create amazing products and taking the time build a genuine brand. We respect the time and effort it takes to run a small business and we love promoting the those doing amazing things.
Compassion – Compassion runs in our blood, this is why helping others is at the centre of Loving Small Business, whether that be supporting small businesses or giving a platform for small charities to shine through. We love to see how other business are supporting their local community and supporting others around them and using their business as a platform for helping others.
Q: Sometimes running a small business can be exhausting, what do you do to keep yourself sane?
A: In all honesty, I am still learning this myself and it has been so much harder with the lockdowns. It can be easy to get too focused on the business and forget about your work-life balance. It is important to be able to take a step back and to clear your mind, and also do the things I enjoy.
Nathan and I powerlift, so when we have been able to, we have been in the gym as our way of letting off steam. When we can’t make the gym due to a lockdown or tier restriction we try to make sure we are keeping active, we do fall into the trap of moving from seat to seat every now and then, but making sure we get out for walks has been great, and even little drives to give us something else to look at besides our everyday.
After a good days work, we love to sit back and enjoy a whisky.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting a business?
A: It is a common question I get asked often, and we always like to offer more advice where we can, as we see a lot of people wanting to start a business in a similar position.
No matter if your business is a side-line passion or something you want to grow into a full time thing, you should always go into something you feel passionate about. You are going to be putting your time and effort into everything to do with the business, if you don’t have the drive you won’t make the most of the potential you have.
You will learn and adapt, and most importantly grow. As long as you can be agile in your approach you will continue to get better. You won’t get everything right the first time, and mistakes happen, but those are what allow you to do better and increase in confidence.
Ask yourself what makes you unique & stand out from the crowd. We see a lot of people doing similar things, and in an already crowded space you have to know what makes you different, otherwise how can you stand out and how does someone find you in amongst all the rest.
Understand who your audience is, how to price your products and really know if this is something you can make affordably and is it something that you can reasonably price for the consumer.
Nathan and I have all sorts of ideas over the years, but when we look into them some are not feasible due to the cost of manufacturing based on being a small business, and some we had to research into finding supplier who fit our values and offer suitable prices.
Learn to take criticism and know who to take it from. Your business is personal to you, so hearing feedback can be hard, but you need to be able to take to understand if the business if viable so that you can adapt or look at another to solve the issue.
Understanding who you take feedback from is just as important, those closest to you may not always be objective and may also not be your target audience. Make sure to do your research and get your product in front of actual customers not your parents and your friends, this way any feedback you get will be more valuable and help direct your decisions.
One of the most important things I have learnt to do is celebrate the small things, it is very easy to forget the effort you put into achieve your milestones, so make sure to take notice the challenges you’ve overcome, the small wins and achievements you make, and find to celebrate them.
Q: What do you have planned for 2021?
A: Our goal for the end of 2020 was to work 6-months ahead, we are nearly there, so we will continue to work at that.
We have some exciting ideas we have been working on to build a bigger platform and community to offer real value to small businesses outside of social media.
Personally, I just want to keep growing so I can keep doing more. As a small business owner myself there is a lot I am still learning, exchanges with others helps me understand and adapt quicker, I am constantly learning and developing, and this is knowledge we want to pass on to other people interesting in starting a business, to those already running a businesses.
And Finally, Holly, with indie businesses, it’s lovely to get to know a little bit about you, behind the scenes.
- Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?
Powerlifting, whisky & cooking
2. Favourite meal?
I love all food! But I think at the moment it’s got to be a big burger with everything in it, the kind that you just have to go with getting super messy and clean up at the end.
3. Big Party or Small Gathering?
Definitely a small gathering…with burgers & whisky.
Holly Thanks so much for your candour and sharing a little bit about you! It’s plain to see your strong and genuine ethos of giving and compassion.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about Holly and Loving Small Business! Whiskey anyone!? Each month I will introduce you to a small business I think is worth watching. If you’d like to visit Loving Small Business to learn more click here