Looking Forwards - Paul's Latest Blog
Founder Paul Nicol embarks on his own personal blog, taking the readers on his journey from diagnosis of a sight losing disease through to the present day as he strives to make the home of gift experiences for disabled people a success in the midst of tough economic times.
Hello Blog Readers,
A little belated, but it's still worth me wishing that you all had a great Christmas and New Year! For me it was great to spend time with my Wife and 3 year old Daughter! It was great to hear the joy and excitement in my daughters voice and I am assured that she had a smile to match! Christmas is swiftly followed by my daughters birthday, so just as things settle down and I manage to find a place for all of her new toys, we get to do it all again!
Anyhow, on to business.....
Where do I start? Well, we started trading back in mid June and it was to be honest a slow start. Naturally, when we launched the website, no one knew it was coming so we were coming from a standing start. It took until Late August for us to get our first sale! The good news is that this was exactly what we had predicted and our Sales forecast has been pretty much spot on with our sales to date.
Looking back at 2012, it's fair to say that I've learnt an incredible amount. Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro back in February and starting my own business are two of the most significant events in my life to date (Of course getting Married and starting a family are an exception). If you had asked me 2 years ago I’d not have thought that I would have done either of those things! I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, my Wife has been a tremendous source of support and encouragement throughout this period, I can honestly say that I don't think I could have done it without her.
So despite my disability (Blindness), I have managed to overcome some rather amazing challenges that many unimpaired people would not even consider taking on. It's taught me that if you really want something, you should focus on that goal and go get it, with determination and support it's possible. It's worth me highlighting that it's not just people with an impairment that require support, most people will require support to get to the top of a mountain or to start their own business, it's just that those with an impairment may require support of a different nature!
Shout and then shout some more!
The biggest challenge for me in 2012 has been raising awareness. In reality it is not as simple as I had thought it might be to get customers, not easy at all! The amount of time, effort and money I have put into telling people about the Home of Gift Experiences for Disabled People is significant. We have received some amazing press coverage throughout 2012, not least of all coverage on BBC South Today, an appearance on BBC Radio 4 In Touch, coverage in around 12 local news papers, an Interview on InfoSound, a 2-page spread in On-Call the emergency Services magazine, some local Radio appearances and much more... You might have thought that this would mean that customers would be knocking down my door! Well, I’m here to tell you it aint like that, not at all!
Raising awareness and getting customers is a slow process, despite all of the marketing mediums available, the fact remains that recommendations from friends and family is the best form of marketing, unfortunately it's the slowest as well!
2013 here we come...
What does 2013 hold in store for me personally and the Home of Gift Experiences? For me personally, I have no major challenges lined up, my focus is on the business, with an aim to make it profitable over the next financial year. I am however beginning to get itchy feet, I’ve been talking about the London to Paris bike ride for some time now, all I really need is a captain for my Tandem and it's a go, so if you know anyone who may fit the bill, put them in touch!
For the Home of Gift Experiences for Disabled People, there are a number of things for us to focus on this year, these include:
Launching our Charity Fundraising Option
This will enable customers with or without disabilities to take part in some of the more challenging experiences for free as long as a minimum sponsorship amount is raised. If you know of anyone interested, or a charity interested in signing up, put them in touch.
Increasing our Geographical Coverage
We want to extend our geographical coverage to cover more of the country. This will see some of the more popular experiences become available across England. Naturally we will continue to expand our Gift Experiences catalogue as well.
Later in the year we will be working on a reseller and affiliates program to help market our gift experiences through different avenues. Again, if you know anyone that may be interested in this, do put them in touch.
Engaging with Charities
This year we really want to engage with charities for 2 reasons. Firstly, with our Charity Fundraising options, we are hoping that we can help charities to engage with new supporters and raise some additional funds. Secondly, we also want to use our network of experience operators combined with a greater buying power to get group activities at a lower cost for charities if they purchase through the Home of Gift Experiences for Disabled People. Our work with Action for Blind People and Northamptonshire Association for the Blind last year was a good start.
My final thought this month is of our Blind Supercar Driving Day! We have had a fantastic response to this Gift Experience, we are now able to start booking a date. So over the next few weeks, we'll be setting the date! I am personally so very excited by this day, it's going to be amazing and I just know everyone is going to have a great time hanging out with a Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin!
There are limited places left available, so if you know someone that is interested, put them in touch ASAP.
All the best,
Paul Nicol - Founder
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