As the fastest growing online courier service, we at ParcelHero are passionate about online business and business ingenuity. That’s why we’ve chosen to interview some of the most exciting up and coming online businesses in the UK.
In the first of our 4 part #SMETalks series, we caught up with Lisa Long, Creative Director at More Than Words to talk typographic art, her companies’ use of social media, and the importance of effective delivery systems in meeting customer expectations.
1. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your business and what makes your business unique?
More Than Words was launched in 2010 as a business specialising in producing premium quality typographic art. The company and products are very unique, offering personalised gifts for all occasions. Customers can enter their words, mix their own colours, choose from a list of fonts and designs on the website. A one-stop-shop to create original pieces of wall art. The business has grown from a small home office studio with just me (and a 6 month old and 2 year old!), to an award-winning team of 5 designers and our skilled print team.
2. Your business is very much based on craft and creativity – where did you learn your trade and what inspires you?
I have always been a creative person. After graduating in Business Studies I took a graduate job in IT and Six Sigma (a fancy quality methodology) and, after 8 years I realised that something was missing. My passion was in designing and I wanted to be my own boss. I’ve always loved interior design, drawing, painting, all sorts, so I put my skills to good use and created the first More Than Words ‘Memories’ canvas. The rest is history.
3. What advantages do you think being an ‘online’ business has over being an offline one? What role does social media play in your business?
We have a much broader reach online, and there was no initial outlay as the website was built by my husband (an IT guru), so this helped us keep our overheads down. We now sell to customers all over the world. Social media plays a huge role in our business. We have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and have a blog (which I do my best to update when I can!). This keeps us visible in the online world and the reach potential is huge. Through twitter we got our first piece of press back in 2010 and were spotted by Theo Paphitis for his ‘small business Sunday’ initiative and Jacqueline Gold for her ‘Women of Worth’ initiative. I have also ‘met’ many other small business owners through social media which has helped the isolation you can sometimes feel as an online business owner.
4. How important is the process of delivery to your business model, is this the main way that you distribute your goods?
Delivery is very key to the business model. Once artwork leaves us, it is in the hands of a courier driver but it still reflects More Than Words right up until it is in the hands of the customer. We ensure that all artwork is sent out overnight for delivery the following day to ensure there are no damages. All pieces must be signed for.
5. Finally, what one tip would you give anyone looking to start up their own business online?
Firstly, and most importantly, be unique and be original. Also, do your homework; I scoured the library for books on SEO and how to optimise our website. You need to be seen and not get lost in the sea of new online businesses. Lastly, don’t expect it to all happen overnight. Pure hard work, long hours and a lot of family juggling got More Than Words to where it is today.
Companies like More Than Words are helping lead the charge for entrepreneurialism and online business in the UK. We’re certainly encouraged by Lisa’s innovative use of social media and micro-blogging to engage her audiences and the fact that courier services play a crucial role in her business model. Come back next week to find out more about some of the UK’s strongest online entrepreneurs.