Bianca Richardson had a problem. Unable to find a solution and being an enterprising Mum, she invented a product to solve it. Enter Houdini Stop, the world famous chest clip for car seats, strollers and high chairs! But she didn't stop there. Bianca has since invented many other wonderful products, all designed to help keep kids safe and make the lives of their parents easier.
We caught up with Bianca to find out more about the challenges of running a successful business while being a Mum!
What made you decide to start a business?
I kind of ‘fell’ into it. There was need in the market for my first product and sales drove the need to get serious and turn it into one. My other products were then born out of the need from other friends
Why did you choose your specific business?
I didn’t really. It chose me. I needed a product that would stop my youngest child from physically getting out of her fully secured car seat harness. There was nothing on the market available, so I made something. It was successful and it all evolved from there
Tell us more about your business.
I invent and manufacture sanity saving products for people and care givers of small children. I have 8 ‘Houdini’ products on the market. I started off at my kitchen table doing everything. 9 years later I employ several stay at home mothers to assemble my products and I use the special needs work facility in Cambridge to do the packaging. I still do the marketing and behind the scenes stuff, but I don’t stay up until midnight working any more. I get to do the fun stuff now, and I can afford to pay for help with the trickier things.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business?
I had no money, no business experience, no support from my husband, and my first product was an accessory for child car seats. That is a very controversial topic as to whether it is safe to add aftermarket products to car seats
What did you do to overcome these challenges?
I ignored my husband (Lol) and just got on with it. I was passionate about my product, I believed in myself and it, and I just kept knocking and reknocking on doors…. I organised child care if I needed it. Used my $30 housekeeping money as start-up capital. Just started small, spent wisely and reinvested every dime I made back into the business. It took 3 years before I drew a wage. I did everything myself. Packaging, marketing, product design, accounts, just whatever I needed to do….. I also took a huge risk and got my product officially crash tested in Australia to prove it was safe. That was a make or break moment, because if it failed the test, my business was gone
What are the hardest things about being a Mum and running a business?
The hardest thing is juggling family demands and business ones. I don’t want the business to take priority as to me family comes first, but I don’t want to be running an amateur operation where it takes days to react to business requirements. So, time management and also getting people to take me seriously. They needed to know that although I am working from home, I am actually working and running a proper business.
How did you first start selling your products or services to people?
I made one for myself, and then a couple of friends with the same problem asked me to make one for them. I saw a ‘gap’ in the market and decided to see why they weren’t available and what could I do to make them available. I worked all this out, got some prices and got 30 products made. I started selling them on Trade Me and then things just snowed balled from there. I was approached by Baby City and asked if I would supply them and I was approached by an Australian customer who want to sell into stores over there for me
What made you decide to get a website?
It was the thing I was advised to do at a free business course I attended. I also wanted to grow sales and increase awareness that you could actually now buy a chest clip.
What made you choose Website World as the one to build your website with?
It was free to set up and I could design it myself with the help of templates. It was only going to cost $25 a month to be hosted and I could make changes without it costing me. So, it was very well suited to my budget!
How have you found using Website World to run your business website with?
It's great. It is simple enough for silly old me to work, and if I get stuck there is people there happy to help. I have never had an issue with the website playing up and I have been able to pay, at a reasonable price, for some ‘extra’ help. Its great and I recommend them to everyone that asks about websites.
Have you found networking online with other business owners useful in helping you grow your business?
I have come across a lot of ‘tyre kickers’ or people that just want to sell me their stuff. I have had some really great local business mentors that I have gone out and found myself, and I have helped a few friends start their business, but yes I struggle with networking… I have picked up a few hints and tips throughout the years…
Any other comments about being a Mum and running a business?
It is well worth it. Try it and see. Don’t jump in boots and all. Just go slowly and you will eventually get there. I would never work for anyone else again. I think I have the perfect life balance now. It was a struggle at first, but it is all worth. I love my business and my family life
If you could give a Mum wanting to start up her own business one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be passionate about your business. Your passion and belief will shine through and help you on your journey. Don’t be the person who says….I wish I had done that…Just Do It. See how it goes and don’t give in at the first hurdle. There are always different ways to do things, you just have to find what works for you. Start slowly and start with a mini, you can work up to Porsche. Starting small will help, build a solid foundation that will last.
Please visit Bianca's business Houdini Solutions Ltd or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Don't forget to check out her awesome Houdini products available for purchase online through her website and at stockists around the world!
Posted: Friday 13 July 2018