How I used local knowledge to start my own business

Natalie Bamford 2 months ago . 10 minute read

Who

Natalie Bamford, 32 years old wife, mum, mum to be, passionate Derby County fan, Derby born and bred, I love the city of Derby and county of Derbyshire.

What

I am the founder and managing director of DerbyDaysOut.co.uk. It’s a website which lists what’s on in Derby and Derbyshire for families. We list events, attractions, clubs and classes. We also write family reviews and blogs about our experiences!

Derby Days Out Logo

When

We launched our website on 3rd August 2015.

Why

I had an idea – ok it was more of a rant to my poor husband one night! I was telling him how I was so sick of having to look at several websites and publications to get a picture of what’s on locally for families across Derbyshire. I knew that there had to be an easier way for parents, grandparents, carers to access this information in one place. When the weekend arrives or the school holidays why should we have to waste that precious family time searching for things to do?

We Love Derby - Derby Days Out
There are national websites which are good for exploring an unfamiliar county but knowing the local area as I do, I noticed that when you ‘drill down’ into Derby, the information is decreased dramatically and I could list more than that off the top of my head just using my local knowledge. Additionally, they mainly list static attractions and not those lovely local events that might take place in the marketplace, village or local park. And so DerbyDaysOut.co.uk was born!

How

I knew I wanted an easy to use but good looking website! I tried to ‘go it alone’ and create my own but it was going to be a shambles and I quickly realised that it was worth investing in a company to develop the website for us.

After a lot of research and shopping around, my new business partner (aka as the hubster) and I met with Rob Twells and Liam Nelson of Frogspark. We loved the look of some of their websites and also keen to use a local Derby based company. They understood our vision for the site and created exactly what I wanted – an easy to use, easy on the eye fun, reliable, easily updatable website!

Derby Days Out Mission
Our ‘Meet The Team’ graphic from our homepage shows our personality

Mission

My mission is simple and is what drives me to do my job every day – it’s to help local families find what’s on locally by being a ‘one stop site for family fun in Derbyshire.’ One site for all the information you need so you don’t have to look at several sites like I was forced to do in the past.

I am also passionate about decreasing screen time and increasing family time. Helping children to spend a bit less time behind a screen and more time with their family, in the community enjoying a day out.

Derby Days Out Mission

From TA to MD

Starting a business was (and still is) a HUGE learning curve for me. Before and during the early stages of DDO, I was a qualified Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant – a far cry from an ‘entrepreneurial business owner’ that’s for sure!

I’ve learnt more in these last two about myself and business than I ever thought possible! I’ve always believed in ‘knowledge is best shared’ so here are my top four tips for anyone thinking of starting their own business:

My 4 Top Tips

Go For it!

If you’ve got a good idea and you think it’s ‘got legs’ then go for it. So many people say to me about DDO; “wow, such a simple idea but it’s a great one!” It doesn’t have to be rocket science and sometimes the best ideas come from demand;

I struggled as a parent to find what’s on and knew there must be others in my situation. After market research, I found that – yes, there are others in my situation and this could help thousands!

Believe in yourself and your idea. Put your passion into it and go for it!!

Derby Days Out Favourite Richard Branson Quote
Love this quote – but don’t wait for someone to offer you the opportunity, create it yourself!

Dealing with copycats!

Now, this is a tricky one. You’ve found a ‘gap in the market’ you’ve put in the market research, blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, trials and errors, working all hours, and much, much more to get your business and brand off the ground. And now someone has come along and done the exact same thing as you.

It’s soul destroying, infuriating, devastating, patience-testing, but also…flattering. YOUR idea has prompted someone else to use the same idea for their business! Competition can be healthy. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have those infuriating days when you see your hard work, ideas and efforts being used by another business but just remember this quote: “If you copy me, you’re already 5 steps behind me.”

Look forward, let it be a catalyst to keep going, innovating, creating, building and growing. Ideas can be copied your passion can’t.

Derby Days Out Herman Melville Quote

Make Friends with Social Media

It’s likely you will have limited marketing spend and the great thing about social media is – it’s FREE! Not only that, it’s a great tool for reaching your target audience. And once you really understand who your target audience is and what messages will get their attention, then you can really start to have fun with it!

I personally LOVE running social media for DerbyDaysOut. Our main channels are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but we also have google+, Pinterest, Youtube and LinkedIn. My advice is to get listed on as many channels as you can with your basic information such as name, contact details and URL. You never know where you are going to be found.

Take time to get to know the platform, the best ways to use it to connect with your target and how. Many companies out there will charge you an absolute fortune for social media training or workshops but I personally believe that if you invest some of your time into getting used to it – you can do a great job yourself and maybe even love it like I do.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s still a fair bit of trial and error and it can be disheartening if a post doesn’t get much engagement but don’t give up!

Derby Days Out Social Media Post
This little post that I created reached 54,444 people and got 2606 reactions!

Don’t Forget to Smile!

Enjoy it! Yes, it takes heaps of hard work, dedication, enthusiasm, creativity, passion and more but it’s worth it.

Sometimes you have to focus on the small wins and every now and then a biggie will come along and it will make you burst with pride and reignite that passion and spark and you’ll keep moving on in leaps and bounds!

We were shortlisted as ‘Website of the Year’ 2016 in the British Small Business Awards and I was awarded ‘Highly Commended New Business Woman of The Year 2017’ at the Enterprising Women East Midlands Chamber Awards – these are the biggies I’m talking about. The “oh yeah, I am doing an ok job aren’t I?” moments. Well, pat yourself on the back because yes, you are doing brilliantly so be proud of yourself!

I hope you have enjoyed finding a bit more about me and found my four top tips useful. If you want to get in touch with me, please feel free to via email; natalie@derbydaysout.co.uk or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Please also feel free take a look at my website www.DerbyDaysOut.co.uk

About Natalie Bamford

Founder, DerbyDaysOut

Natalie Bamford is a 32 years old wife, mum, mum to be, passionate Derby County fan and business owner. Natalie founded DerbyDaysOut helping parents in and around Derby find days out and activities today which are family friendly!

Link Iconderbydaysout.co.uk