Welcome to our brand new slot. Entrepreneur Friday! Here we interview fantastic female business owners to find out a bit about their business, their journey and plans. Today we have Jody Fletcher from Chilli Promotional Products Limited. Over to Jody…
Chilli Promotional Products a small business with a big attitude!!
So small, it’s in fact just me – Jody Fletcher, working from home around my 2 year old daughter….. BUT the public appearance of Chilli is a professional business with an organic page one ranking on Google for Promotional Products. With a client list including Newcastle University, Southampton University, Karcher UK, Makita UK, Portsmouth City Council, The WI, and so many more including a long list of SME’s, large business, charities, schools, and NHS bodies in Oxfordshire and across the whole UK.
We are members of the local Chamber of Commerce (Banbury & Bicester Chamber), the Federation of Small Business, and also the British Promotional Merchandise Association and take huge pride in providing the very highest levels of customer service at all times.
The business has grown organically, predominantly through networking and referrals/recommendations, but more recently there has been a noticeable increase in business coming via the website (www.chillipromotions.co.uk).
Chilli Promotional Products has a strong social media presence – most notably on Twitter and Facebook, and this has really helped to build a strong brand and to engage and connect with customers, prospects, and associates alike.
Tell us a bit about your business
I started Chilli Promotional Products in 2008 and offer a full range of promotional products, marketing merchandise, corporate gifts and corporate clothing to a mixture of clients across the UK. Clients include Multinational businesses, Universities & Schools, Local Authorities, and lots of SME’s. The focus is on supplying first class customer service, and increasing the client base predominantly through networking and word of mouth.
What is Chilli Promotional Products Limited and what inspired you to start it?
A distributor or marketing merchandise, promotional products etc (see above!!!). I started it as a felt there was a gap in the market for someone to do this with a real focus on customer service…. And I LOVE the products!!
What is your career background?
I have a degree in Food Marketing from Newcastle Universtiy, and then worked in a successful local company as their marketing / events department. I then moved to work for another great local company (K2 Recruitment) to do their marketing, but ended up getting involved in recruiting which was great fun, and then progressed to branch manager where I learnt huge amounts about running a business. This gave me the skills and experience to set up Chilli.
What is your vision for Chilli Promotional Products Limited?
I would like to continue to grow Chilli in a managed way, fitting it around my daughter. I would like to continue to be able to compete with “the big boys” due to the service levels I offer, and would love to win some more university clients.
You’ve balanced being a successful business woman with raising a family. Any advice for other women?
Don’t beat yourself up if you have days where you can’t get anything ticked off your “to do” list. Prioritise and re-prioritise and try not to let it get you stressed… children (and husbands/partners) pick up on stress and are liable to react to that and things spiral! If you need to, step away from work, and do something fun with the little one for half an hour… it will benefit you both!
How do you maintain a good work/life/family balance?
By trying really hard to not bite off more than I can deal with! I try not to work at the weekend except in exceptional circumstances. I also don’t set ridiculous targets for Chilli – I know that I only work part time (even though most customers don’t know this) so I am realistic in my expectations.
What was your lightbulb moment? When did you realise you wanted to be an entrepreneur/business owner?
I have always wanted to have my own business, but I’m not a true entrepreneur as I needed to know I had enough money saved to see me through the initial months – If I was braver (and looking back now I wish I had been) I would have started Chilli at least 2 or 3 years earlier.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
That you can’t please everyone all the time.
Some customers are just downright awkward (I’m getting pretty good at working out which ones they are at the start now!!).
Not to try and compete against “Internet Prices” – those companies wont have the customer service levels to keep customers
That you can’t assume that some months will be good/bad as they were last year… I try to look at a 3 month average rather than comparing month by month
What has surprised you about owning your own business?
How lonely it is working from home, on your own (before I had my daughter or office!). How despite the business growing well, there never seems to be quite as much money in the bank as you think there should be (cash flow).
Who and what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who are positive and proactive. There are some great local business women who inspire me for different reasons – Rachel Davis from the British Heart Foundation who works tirelessly in her fundraising role – far harder than many business owners I know, and who always has something positive to say and a smile on her face to name one.
Do you have a daily routine or rituals you do?
Not really – I’m afraid I’m a bit of an example of “organised chaos” – it seems to work for me!! I do keep “to do lists” though.
What obstacles have you had along the way?
I have had a really gentle journey really and would say the main obstacle I have overcome is continuing to grow and develop the business while also having and raising a baby!
What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started?
That I really was capable of running a successful business – I think I undersold myself initially as I didn’t have the confidence to stand up and be proud.
Tell us your favourite tools that make your life easier (apps, websites, software etc)
I love Wunderlist for the ever changing To Do Lists. Use industry specific software which I purchased in 2011 after a long battle with myself as I didn’t think I really needed it… It’s been amazing and there is no way I could be dealing with the amount of business I now do without it! I’m a massive fan of Facebook (personal and business) and Twitter for business. I love my Kindle app on my phone too (again another thing I was absolutely against, but am now completely converted!)
What is your favourite quote?
“If you believe you can, or believe you can’t, you’re probably right” ~ Henry Ford
If you would like to find out more about Jody and connect with her online you can find her via: