Sarah is the founder of Unbeelievable Health, the ethical targeted nutritional supplements brand based on ‘health from the hive’.
She started the business in 2010 from the ground up with no outside investment. Their Bee Prepared immune formulas and Bee Energised supplements are now sold in over 1000 UK & Irish stores including Wholefoods Markets, Planet Organic, Revital, Holland & Barrett & in health stores in Dubai, Spain, China & elsewhere. The products have won 10 industry awards and Sarah has written for a number of magazines on entrepreneurship.
Starting a business is something many people dream of but they often never realise what incredibly hard work it is.
It takes a lot of passion, grit, dedication and frankly a pretty good dose of bravery. Luckily for health lovers, wellness is one of the top global trends right now; the industry is worth over $3.4 trillion globally. A few simple, but crucial tips will hold you in good stead as you head on your way towards building a wellness product, service, business or a blog you hope to monetise.
Here are Sarah’s nine crucial steps to success when starting a wellness business:
Do the due diligence
Before you start building your dream business, it’s crucial to to find out if there is demand, who your competitors are, how much money you will need, the best way to get started and what sort of help and knowledge you will need.
Ask for guidance
Some of the greatest advice I ever got was from my father, who was also an entrepreneur. He said the best thing to do is to figure out who in one’s field of interest has started a business similar to the one you want to start and has done well, and contact them to ask for advice. I though the man’s cheese was slipping off his cracker — ‘contact strangers?’. ‘YES!’ he said. 8 out of 10 may tell you to get lost but usually at least one or two will be flattered & delighted help with advice, contacts and more.
That’s exactly what I did when I started — I knew what I wanted to do but knew almost no one in the industry.
With the help of a few instrumental strangers in the industry and friends of friends, along with support from organisations who assist entrepreneurs & startups, I was set. Several of those initial mentors I still remain in contact with.
Show me the money
Once you’ve ascertained that you have a viable plan, make sure you’ve got some savings and figure out how you will raise seed capital.
Starting a business always costs way more than you think it will.
Have a cushion to fall back on. I worked like a pack animal for years saving money to start my business. Investors, crowd funding, friends and family, grants and bank loans are all worth exploring if you don’t have the savings… and even if you do!
Have a STORY!
People want to know who’s behind a brand. Why are you different? What will your USPs (unique selling points) be? What is your WOW FACTOR? I used to always get sick and feel run down and tired which drove me mad. I had always been keen on natural health and avoided prescription drugs when possible.
I had always dreamed of creating a targeted natural remedies brand as I felt that supplements could be confusing. After speaking with numerous nutritionists, I noticed that bee superfoods kept getting recommended.
I love bees and realised that no one was doing anything based on health from the hive (our supplements combine bee propolis (nature’s antibiotic & anti viral) and bee pollen (our next product includes royal jelly), with nutrients that have proven benefits which are NOT usually found in a regular diet or multivitamin. When I started, there was already a huge buzz building about the importance of bees and their decline so we also decided to donate a portion of proceeds to bee causes, which leads me to….
The importance of having a higher purpose in your business
A genuine concern about out our world, social causes or ensuring your products come from sustainable sources enhances the culture of any business. An ethical or higher purpose ethos gives the founder, employees and anyone you work with a great feeling. I realised that I didn’t just want to sell supplements and help people feel better, I wanted to be able to give something back as well.
Helping raise awareness about the huge service bees provide humanity (bees are responsible for 1/3 of all we eat, as well as coffee, cotton and chocolate!) and donating to bee causes, has added depth and dimension to the business.
Studies show that brands with a heart, on average, perform better, have higher staff retention and benefit from increased employee and customer satisfaction levels. So figure out how you can incorporate a little something extra into your offering!
Get the knowledge you will need
When I started I spent about a year researching my market and going to all sorts of entrepreneurial lectures and classes. An old friend, Sahar Hashemi, founder of Coffee Republic, told me that she had the same worry as me: ‘should I go to business school first?’. She didn’t go and neither did I because as she said, being an entrepreneur IS going to business school — you learn on the job. Her great book ‘Anyone Can Do It’, is well worth a read. T
o lock down the basics though, The British Library was invaluable.
They are huge supporters of startup business & enjoy government funding for this purpose. They have branches of their Business & Intellectual Property Centres around the country which run great classes and provide guidance and access to free market research. You will probably already know about the Well To Do lecture series, which focuses on the wellness industry: it’s fantastic, with some of the real movers and shakers sharing advice and stories.
Don’t waste too much time on a business plan
I wish I’d spent a lot less time faffing about on our business plan, it took ages, was huge and ultimately, fairly pointless. It’s crucial to have a solid basic plan and framework to work from, but no one has time to read those things any more. I did a great class at the British Library run by Paul Grant of the Funding Game on how to write an executive summary and condensed business plan for seeking investment.
Make a great pitch deck as well if you are seeking investment.
For getting a handle on finances I recommend Johnny Martin, The Numbers Coach, who also runs classes at the British Library and has written a great book which explains all you need to know in a digestible way.
The KEY element, the coat hanger as it were, of any business, is a watertight brand. Everything will hang off of that so it’s crucial to get that right. Whether products or a personal brand, a lot of soul searching should be done —what is the brand’s identity you want to put across? What’s the personality, look, & message?
Nail down a proper brand brief.
Read one of the books on the story of Innocent Smoothies for inspiration. Study successful brands in your sector and see what they do differently. Find someone good at graphics and try not to spend a bomb — a lot of cash can be wasted here. Find a designer you are on the same page with who can craft a great logo and branding.
Get social & collaborate!
One of the things that has made running a business so different these days is social media and the online community you can create through it. The wellness sector in particular is super warm, fuzzy and full of people who are keen to help each other, so network and get people involved with what you are doing.
It’s also meant that clever startups can get the word out about their brand without spending shedloads on traditional advertising.
These days it’s about getting out there, connecting and helping each other, which can be incredibly fun and rewarding. It makes the long hours and hard work worth it. Good luck!
Connect with Unbeelievable Health on Instagram.