Manufacturing start ups united at Enterprise Nation

How to start a handmade business with Enterprise Nation

If the idea of starting a business that makes and sells something in Britain fills you with excitement, you’re in good company. More than 100 people were in the room to hear a panel share their views on  building a handmade business at the #Startup 2018 conference. 

Made in Britain’s CEO John Pearce chaired the panel of five experts, and all had plenty of experience to share: Patricia Van Den Akker (Director, The Design Trust), Phillip Kalli (Managing Director, Ideal Manufacturing), Matthew Hopkins (Managing Director, The GB Exchange), Pragya Agarwal (founder of Hedge and Hog Prints and The Art Tiffin) and Pete Charlesworth (co-founder, Clouds & Currents). John also shared product samples and stories with the audience, supplied by Made in Britain members Ora, Bio-bean Coffee Logs and Young's Seafood

Focusing on the work-life balance was a strong theme and at the heart of that is know why you’re in the business you’re in. What do you want to do and why? Is there a market for your product? Pragya talked about how having a consistently authentic voice will win you favours with your customers as it builds trust. She added that branding is really important - what your ethos is and how that is represented throughout your organisation - not just having a logo designed. 

Trade and retail margins gathered a lot of interest among the audience with some people estimating that you add 60% to your production costs. It turned out some businesses run on a margin of just 5%, according to Patricia. John introduced the idea of thinking about what you want to do with the money - for example maybe you want to expand.

Tips from the panel included:

  •  Patricia urged the audience to define success for themselves.
  •  Phillip talked about telling your story - it’s unique to you.
  •  Patricia added that writing down the 50 people who need to know about your business is a great marketing exercise.
  •  Pete confirmed that you don’t need to sell to everybody, be niche. 
  •  Matthew recommended knowing what your costs are (salary and business costs) and make sure you are making a profit.

The best tips for success from each panelist were: 

Peter: “Believe in yourself and your product. Nobody thinks like you do so use your unique viewpoint.”

Pragya: “Know your customer and be ready for very little sleep!”

Matthew: “Research, research, research. On your market, your products, your audience, everything.”

Phillip: “Work hard and be nice to people.”

Patricia: “Keep learning - your business will grow with you. And - stop talking: do it.”


Made in Britain is helping manufacturers around the country sell more with the marque. If your startup business can prove that you are manufacturing a product in a factory, workshop or studio that you own or control in Britain, you can take advantage of the many benefits to joining the not-for-profit organization by completing the Application Form, clicking  here:  "I'm making in Britain"


By Made in Britain 3 years ago | Features and guides

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