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Hatch is one! What an achievement

When we read survey results about business survival, prospects are not motivating. A study by Turner Little reveals that 8 in 10 companies fail within their first year and research from the Enterprise Research Centre concluded that ‘London start-ups are most likely to fail’. That’s why when we see Hatch defying these odds and celebrating its first birthday on the 4th July, we fill our chests with pride... What an achievement!

It’s not easy to transform an idea into a profitable business. If you are curious to know how Hatch hatched it, Gary Toomey, Founder and Managing Director, explores the six key areas which he believes are essential for a business to survive their first year. Check them out below.

Understand the market

I have been working in the printing industry for almost a decade, so I have a very strong background and great insight into the industry and the market. It’s essential to understand the segment your company will be in – especially your customers and competitors.

In our connected world, information is everywhere and most of the key points you need to create a picture of the market can be easily found with a simple web search. However, if you want more in-depth data, commissioning your own research is always an option and should be perceived as an investment, not an expense.

Be prepared before going to market

Hatch is celebrating one year in the market but this project started long before the 4th July. A lot of time, resources and work must be dedicated to an enterprise, from idea conception to making it available to customers.

More often than not, entrepreneurs will find it frustrating to wait so long to see their business up and running, but it’s a phase that can’t be rushed – this groundwork will define how solid your business is once it’s in full swing. It’s like planting a tree – it takes a while before you can even see the sprout, but during that time, the foundation is being prepared to support the growth once it starts.

Create a plan

One of the key activities of preparation is creating a plan. Although the more detailed the plan, the better it is, this may be a daunting task for a first-time business owner. Start small and add more information as you figure things out. With Hatch, I had a vision of what I wanted and created a business plan that became my guide for the journey. If you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to lose focus and direction. A plan is also important for you to check progress as you can use it as a benchmark to let you know how you are doing compared to what you expected.

A business plan should include your company values and principles, give a general idea of your products, describe your brand, outline your target customer, cover who your competitors are as well as their strengths and weaknesses, clarify your unique selling points, offer an overview of running costs and sales projections and forecasts, and illustrate key milestones, to mention a few topics.

Promote your business

Although we live in a connected world, having a business on its own isn’t enough. You need to shout about it and let people know you are there. Marketing was a big part of my plan for Hatch – I dedicated budget, time and resources to ensure our message would reach potential customers and in turn increase our orders exponentially.

There are several ways to promote your business – online and offline. Nowadays, the buzz is around online marketing, which is basically everything that happens on the web. If you are looking for free channels, social media is the first point of call to amplify your reach, however it’s worth searching for other sites that are relevant for your industry and that may allow your company to create a free profile.

For Hatch, we use Creative Pool to share our blog posts and reach a wider audience. If you have a budget, paid ads can help you spread the word quicker.

It’s also important to understand your return on investment, or how much money you make in sales compared to how much you spend in advertising. This will help you ensure your money is being well spent. At the end of the day, your money should be making you more money.

Listen to your customers and adapt

The expression ‘adapt or die’ has never been more relevant than in our current environment – and applies at a corporate level as well. Keeping your products and services relevant and communicating them in an attractive way is imperative for business continuity – reacting, revising and innovating is key.

Customers are Hatch’s priority. That’s why one of our main goals is to offer amazing customer service. Part of that service is about listening to customers and transforming opinions into insight about the market. One of the ways we do this is by having a review platform where customers can give us their feedback and we use it to understand how we can improve, and adapt our offering to meet their expectations and create long-term loyalty.

In a world of digital noise, customers’ voices have become increasingly valuable for brands. Let your customers be honest and use their interaction as an asset. Several platforms offer services to collect customer feedback – from free options, like Google and Facebook; to paid services like Trustpilot. We are proud to have a score of 9.5 in Trustpilot - it keeps us going.

Be green

From the beginning, we knew we wanted to make Hatch an environmentally-friendly business. No one lives isolated and every action we take affects others and nature. We believe we need to protect the planet we live in, so we have made conscious decisions about how we run our business.

We are proud to be the UK’s first printer to hold the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan accreditation. Offering 100% animal-free products is a great achievement for Hatch as well as the printing industry. But it doesn’t stop there, we also offer recycled paper options, recycle our waste, have CO2 neutral press and LED lighting in our factory and are Gophr partners, meaning customers’ orders can be delivered by bicycle (no pollution) the very same day.

Every business can make a positive impact their own way. Think of your product, suppliers and location and search for options to make it more sustainable and green.

Life after the first birthday

We are proud to celebrate our first business anniversary and are very excited about what the future holds. We have plans to include more products in our catalogue, are always looking to offer the most competitive prices and strive to keep offering outstanding customer service. I think these have all contributed to a successful year - hopefully, the first of many.

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