1. What do you do?
I run a company that sells school leavers hoodies.
2. What did you do before this project?
I was on a gap year after school and I had no money and couldn’t get a decent job. Whilst I was at school I’d sold a few hoodies with some mate as part of a Young Enterprise scheme. I decided to try and do it again to raise a bit of travelling money and went from there.
3. How long have you dreamt of doing this?
I think I’ve always wanted to try and run my own business. I hadn’t necessarily dreamed of selling hoodies but the freedom of being self-employed has appealed to me from a young age.
4. What was your ‘Moment of Truth’ when you realised that you would turn the dream into a reality?
I think the moment of truth came when I successfully sold a few thousand hoodies whilst living and kitesurfing in South Africa. I was doing it all online and getting UK suppliers to customise and deliver the hoodies for me. It was a pretty cool feeling and at that point I thought hoodeasy might have some potential to be a really cool business.
5. From a practical perspective, how did you plan for it?
I must admit that I didn’t do any planning at all. I think if you start a web business on the side that doesn’t require much capital and is set up so you get paid first and then pay others later, you can get going pretty easily. One thing that really helped was being able to actually build and edit a site myself – that’s a skill that I would recommend all business owners try to acquire.
6. How are you funding it?
I grew hoodeasy initially through cashflow. So I would take a big cheque from a customer, spend it all on advertising and then use the sales from that advertising to pay my suppliers 30 days later whilst then spending the new cash on further ads. We’re now growing steadily and profitably as I only have one member of staff. My income is not that of a city banker just yet but the freedom that my business affords me is pretty priceless.
7. What was the hardest thing about making this happen?
I think starting a business on your own is not an easy path at all. A great pair of co-founders can make the journey far less solitary and much more rewarding.
8. What has been the best thing about having made this happen?
I love to go kitesurfing and you can only do that when it’s windy, not when you want to go. Now if there’s a great forecast I’ll get up really early, put a couple of hours in, and then hit the beach and have an awesome session. When I get back I can catch up with any emails that need sorting. I’ve also ensured that every single element of the business is completely web-based so this summer I travelled to Egypt and Morocco kitesurfing and working online as I went.
9. What advice would you give to other people who want to do something similar?
Get a book on Dreamweaver. Learn what HTML, CSS, and FTP means. Then if you have an idea that you want to try and make happen on the side you can do it in a week instead of paying someone to do it in 6 months.
10. What resources (books, websites, articles, events etc) did you find really useful?
11. What Else?
If anyone would like to chat about their idea to someone who won’t steal it, please email me on email@example.com or @reply on twitter at @ricburton. Although I mainly sell hoodies at the moment I’ve met a lot of people and perhaps I could put you in touch with someone who can help you.