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Diary of a Start Up

EntrepreneurCountry Global Thursday, 21 February 2013.

Hi, my name is Charlotte, I am 23 years old and I have recently launched an online business: www.mycargossip.com

Whilst speaking to Julie Meyer, who runs many of her own businesses, she advised me it would be a good idea to start a diary of my start up adventure.

Many people ask me what made me decide to start my own business. From a young age I always seemed to be good at coming up with unique and creative ideas for various school projects and I was always thinking outside of the box and very differently from my peers.

I went to university and studied teaching for four years after having been given no advice about what other options I had. Four years later and after working part time in the evenings doing a sales job I realised that I was good at other things apart from teaching. I completed my degree and realised that teaching wasn't for me.

I then went on to work at www.groupon.co.uk for a year doing sales and really enjoyed it, however I wasn't being given an opportunity to grow within the company and became quite bored after about nine months. During the last three months of my time working there I started writing a blog about cars. The blog began as I felt I had been ripped off a couple of times by a garage. I was furious with myself for being put in a position where I had to place trust in mechanics because I was not knowledgeable enough about cars to know they were over charging me.

I vowed to help prevent other women who were not that knowledgeable about cars to never get ripped off again by a mechanic. My local car mechanic is brilliant and extremely women friendly, it just happened that those two evenings that I felt ripped off was when my local garage was closed so I had to go elsewhere.  

After four months of writing my blog on a weekly basis I did a Google search for women friendly garages and barely anything came up. I then realised that I could actually get a website created to help women find female-friendly garages in their local areas by reading other women's reviews.

I wrote a rough draft of my business plan on my mobile whilst taking the tube home from work and when I got home I excitedly told my dad my idea. He thought it was an interesting idea with a lot of potential so we sat down with my mum and sister and spent a good hour coming up with a name.

I visited 123reg.com to look at what domain names were available and we decided to name the company MyCarGossip. We purchased mycargossip.com and .co.uk and that is when my start up adventure began.

The biggest setback that I had to overcome was working with a web designer I found online. I was paying him barely anything and the service I received reflected the price. The web designer spoke to me on the phone twice over the course of six months and I received an email from him every two weeks. It was a real struggle working with someone so unresponsive and uncommunicative, I needed to know what was happening with the site and be involved in the progression but I wasn’t being given a chance to have a constructive input.

After six months with the site pretty much complete of the basic work I decided to find a new designer. I was recommended someone and I contacted them, they looked at the site that had been built already and said it would take them 10 days to take it up to the standard that it should be at.

It was an uncomfortable situation having to tell the other designer that I wanted to move onto another company and it was stressful relying on this man to hand over all of the information to the site he had already created so we could improve it.

Luckily we parted ways smoothly and it really did only take the other company 10 days to sort out the website and make it professional and user friendly. It was a great lesson to learn and now I know that when I am looking for a web designer I will always go by recommendation because when you are building an online business the website is the most important part so you need to work with someone who knows exactly what they are doing!

Over the course of the next year my main target is to ensure that every garage in the UK is on the website available for members to review. I also look to expand the site so that it covers more car services for people to review.

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