Hi and Welcome to Women Unlimited TV!
Every Tuesday you will find another interview with a fabulous female business owner, business expert, author, blogger or just plain anyone who inspires me and I hope will inspire you!
As women, I think we learn best from stories and it really helps to know that we are not alone, so it’s our pleasure to provide these interviews on Getting Real about Business with Julie. I hope you will find value in the real story about the challenges we face and solutions that we find on our journey to creating successful businesses.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Leanne Dal Santo from www.Smartbags.co.uk , where she shares her journey and tips on building a product based business, how their virtual team is their secret weapon and how they connected with their supplier in China.
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Leanne is the founder of fantastic branded bag company Smartbags.co.uk . Leanne created the bags that we used at our 2010 conference and we had so much great feedback.
Leanne shares with us a little bit about her journey and why she started a bag company.
Smartbags has created bags for Mama’s and Papa’s, a number of local councils, Morrisons and many more.
Leanne began her business in 2007 while she was on maternity leave; had an epiphany while sitting on the beach in Australia and spotted an opportunity to create branded bags.
Leanne’s background is as a financial controller and she is great at keeping herself organised and putting in systems. She also shares with us how important putting those systems in place are.
Growing your business with a virtual team
Leanne works with a virtual team and uses outsourcers to help her grow her business. Her team are like employees to her, with out the headaches. When you use contractors or outsourcers, you are able to get the best person for the job to work on a specific project. People that have their own businesses work really hard for you and can be like employees, and part of your team. You can specify exactly what you want.
We both recommend People Per Hour, particularly good for UK people as lots of people on there, are from the UK.
Hiring experts may seem like a greater cost, but the reality is you’ll get a higher quality of output, plus a faster result as they don’t need to go through the learning.
Getting products made in China
Smartbags get their products made in China and India, which can be a challenge. When Smartbags started out, they used an intermediary, but then decided to develop their own direct relationship with their suppliers in China. Forming a strong relationship with their suppliers in China, has been critical to their business success. You absolutely need to meet the people who are going to be your suppliers, you can’t leave it to chance. You need to understand the cultural differences and expectations. Meeting them cements the relationship and shows them respect.
There are always going to be problems that arise from working with suppliers abroad, but as long as you work as a team, you can overcome those. Leanne’s advice for people who are interested in manufacturing in China, is speak to other people first. Connect with trade organisations and really tap into the support services that are available in the UK. One of the best places to go in the UK is the British Library Business and IP Centre, which is a tremendous resource for new business owners and growth oriented business owners.
How to transition from corporate bot to freedom loving entrepreneur
We have a great laugh about the challenges about transitioning from a corporate environment. One of the great things that really helps is having a mentor or visiting a group like the Women Unlimited business club to help you figure out how to do things. Speaking to people can really make life a lot easier as you get advice and tips on what to do and where to go.
How to sell to large brands
I close the interview by asking Leanne how to connect with big brands and get those all important clients on the books. Leanne suggests starting by being clear on who you want to connect with. Start with having a problem that you are solving and the conversation happens from there. Leanne is constantly learning to get better at sales all the time.
The tip to success is to be continuously in touch and forming a relationship. Drip feeding contacts and values is a great to way to get there. Social media really helps with developing that, you are really able to build on the relationship with great content.
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Make sure you check in next Tuesday for a killer interview with Rasheed Ogunlaru, the author of Soul Trader