By Claire Grant | Posted: Monday June 12, 2017
So says Annabelle Molloy, whose babysitting service initially did not make the top 40 in the 2012 Challenge, then made it in to the top 15 proposals after she refined her pitch, successfully persuading the judges about her business idea.
“To people just starting out, I’d definitely recommend pitching your idea to someone. It is scary, but it is invaluable to get that feedback and insight. It is not until you really talk about your idea that you know what you have.”
Babysitting jobs had helped fund Annabelle’s University studies. She had a good idea of what customers wanted, and she could see a gap in the market for a professional service, so after gaining business skills through Audacious, she launched Belle Babysitters Ltd in December 2012. More recently participating in Start-Up Weekend 2017 has also helped her refine a new direction for her business.
Nearly five years on, she currently has between 30 and 50 babysitters to call on, including: nannies, university students, childcare workers, nurses, teachers, and empty-nest parents, making her agency the number one go-to for professional babysitting services in the wider Dunedin city.
She says she is still learning, but is pleased at choosing a business path rather than just a job.
One of the things she learnt quickly is that you need to have a network of support. “It’s crucial - there’s no way you can know everything; having to ask and rely on others to provide the skills you don’t have is important.”
The other thing is sheer persistence, something she says is an integral part of the journey.
“I found my business concept was only 20 percent at first, then going through a programme like Audacious or Start-Up weekend adds another 60 percent – for every workshop I did I talked to at least three people who added something or helped me to refine the idea. Audacious validated my idea and gave me the push to go forward.”
“The rest is just getting out and doing it - yes you do have to develop the product or service, and plan and set up systems, but until you have a go, you don’t realise all the things you need to know. There is always something from left field - customers wanting something I hadn’t thought of, and for example in one case, I recognised the need to develop a whole new booking system process; you just adapt and change as the business progresses.”
Annabelle was thrilled to have survived the crucial first 12 months test, and to build a viable agency; now she is looking at options to expand the business into a full time role and to extend beyond Dunedin.