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No idea is perfect, so just get going; Jeremy Carson, founder of 100bodycare, explains why you don’t need a perfect idea to get going in business

Start-up diary: No idea is perfect, so just get going

Jeremy Carson, founder of 100bodycare, explains why you don’t need a perfect idea to get going in business – and reveals the mistakes he made that saw him take three years to make just three shower gels.

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Jeremy Carson, founder of 100bodycare, choosing ingredients for his products

9:30AM BST 02 Jul 2013

Should I start my own business? It’s a question that many people agonise over throughout their career. They read the business pages and ask themselves if they have the traits, experience and right attitude to risk. After setting up my business three years ago, I’ve come to believe these questions are pointless. In that time, I’ve met many business people – from the founder of international food companies like Ella’s Kitchen, to student enterprises. The founders’ traits, experience and attitudes to risk could not be more different. The only common theme seems to be the drive to make your own decisions. This was what I saw in those people and it’s also what I believe motivated me as I look back and search for the reason I decided to start-up from nothing. My business has just started trading. I make a range of 100pc natural toiletries with sports recovery benefits. It’s taken me three long years to get to this stage in which time I’ve identified the right people to work with, developed product formulations, resolved production issues, tested numerous types of packaging, searched for ingredients suppliers and negotiated with retailers. Where did my motivation come from? It was a complete accident. I had just taken a job working abroad and was one month from my start date when a pain I had in my right ankle was diagnosed as severe arthritis. I needed hospital treatment and couldn’t take the role. Luckily, my future employer agreed to keep my position open for three months. For the first time in my life, I was given ample time to think about what I’d learned over my 12 year career. Like most people on a career break, I debated the merits of starting a business. I was buoyed by the false confidence which came from having once started a business as a student and being labelled as an “intrapreneur” by a large corporation. But, as usual, I concluded the time wasn’t right. However, as the sessions to restrengthen my leg continued, I kept thinking of how frustrated I was with the lack of independence that I had in my previous jobs and would continue to have if I stayed in that life. It always concerned me that in large corporations, it seemed that no matter how far your career progressed you would never really make your own decisions. I remember speaking to a managing director who told me that every month he would fly to monthly meetings to be told what to do by his executive board. With this thought going around in my head I, finally decided that I wanted to develop a business that was uniquely my own.So I went to the final thought which will strike any would-be business owner: do I have a perfect idea? I’ve realised there’s no such thing. I know someone who has worked on a travel business concept for seven years but has never felt satisfied enough with his idea to leave his job. It’s unlikely you’ll ever find the motivation to start you own business if you’re waiting for the perfect idea. I worked in product innovation at Nestlé and Danone, which both had all the resources in the world and only about one in four ideas succeeded. Launching new products will always be high risk.

My idea was in the male toiletries industry. I saw that the top eight brands in men’s toiletries were created before 1990. I felt these brands were outdated and that an opportunity existed to appeal to people with a healthy lifestyle. In toiletries, there were no products that were similar in concept to drinks like Vitamin Water, Lucozade or Powerade. This observation formed the basis of my product development.

I’ve made mistakes, including too much book research and taking too long to speak to customers, which have held up starting trading. My biggest error though was trying to develop skills in every facet of the business – at one stage I wanted to take professional personal training qualifications and enrol on courses as a cosmetic scientist.

Needless to say I never became an expert in either of those subjects and I’ve finally decided to rely on better qualified people for help.

I spent three years making three shower gels. It shouldn’t have taken so long but I got there in the end.

So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have been supported by some large natural retailers in the UK such as Planet Organic and Wholefoods, who stock my products. However, there are numerous uncertainties for me to face in order to grow this business in its first trading year.

These issues will form the basis of the articles I’ll be writing in my start-up diary for Business Club. In the next piece, I’ll focus on how I overcame the dilemma I faced when deciding between launching my products quickly or ensuring that I was implementing my idea perfectly.

If you’d like to speak to me, all my contact details are on my 100bodycaresite.

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About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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