Our guest blogger sweet entrepreneur Lucy Scott Paul is the owner of Bah Humbugs based in Masham, North Yorkshire and has 12 years of experience in confectionary under her belt.
The 38-year-old who hails from Hexham and grew up in Slaley, Northumberland before moving to Masham and studying at Newcastle University, has grown the online side of her company with a website which takes orders from across the globe. She also has a strong and loyal following on social media.
So I started my own business twelve years ago – I can’t actually believe it was that long ago..... but during that time I’ve gained a lot of experience. I’ve won a couple of awards so I guess I must have been doing something right, even though the self-doubt in me thinks otherwise.
I run a traditional sweet shop called Bah Humbugs by the way. I sell over 400 different sweets, liquorices and sweet gifts, sweet hampers, corporate gifts.... basically anything sweet related, I do it!
I was 26 and pretty care free, no mortgage, no kids but I did have a very supportive partner and family. I’d always wanted to run my own business – both my parents are self employed running the family farm (it’s cross between The Archers and The Dingles), and my mum also has a café, so watching my hard working parents fed my desire to be my own boss and one day I decided it was now or never....
A shop came up to rent and I decided to take on the lease....but what should I sell? Farming is a real passion of mine, and I wondered about running a farm shop but I was anxious about the perishable goods, so that was a no-go. Then I had a brain wave, the shop I had taken on used to sell sweets in years gone by and these sweets were all a thing of the past in 2004, they were really hard to find despite the fact that they were still being made – so that was that...... I decided to open a sweet shop and within a month I’d jacked in my comfortable, boring, predictable job and entered a world of uncertainty! Bah Humbugs was born..... oh, one other thing I should point out is that I had NO idea how to open and run a sweet shop, I didn’t even know where to find all the sweets I wanted to stock, but I was pretty confident I could do it. And that brings me onto my Top Five Tips for Starting a Business....
- Confidence and self- belief – Don’t be afraid to try! What have you got to lose? You may be rubbish at running your own business, but if you have an ambition, the chances are that you can succeed because you’ve got that entrepreneurial spirit, that belief in your product or concept. Be prepared to take that leap from just thinking about doing something, to actually doing it.
- The idea – is anyone else doing it? How can you make what you want to do different from everyone else? For me, this was to not only open a physical sweet shop, but to also sell sweets on a new platform back then called the World Wide Web!! I was the one of the first online sweet retailers in the UK which served me in good stead. Give your business a name that relates to what you’re doing so that people will immediately recognise the type of business you have. And get the domain name that matches it before someone else does.
- Hard work – you’ve got to be prepared to put in the hours. It ain’t going to be easy and chances are you’ll be working far harder than you have done before, for probably less money in the early days. But you get out what you put in.... and the satisfaction when it all falls into place is immense!
- Shout about it – Do everything you can to get your business out there, get people to know about it. Come up with a quirky marketing method or a PR stunt that will have everyone talking about you.... and with social media all being free this won’t break the bank. And if you don’t feel like this is a strength you have, contact a PR firm like 2B Communications who can do it all for you.
- It’s better to regret something you’ve done than something you haven’t – this has been my motto for the last twelve years and has stood me in good stead. Thankfully I’ve not regretted anything I’ve done with the business yet and I’m sure you won’t either. Go for it!
If you’ve got a sweet tooth then feel free to either visit our retail outlet in Masham, Yorkshire Dales or our online sweet shop at www.bahhumbugs.com . You can also find us on Facebook/Bahhumbugs and Twitter @bahhumbugs . We’re sure we can find something to tempt your taste buds, and we’d love to hear your happy nostalgic sweet memories.