Five Lessons Learnt In Starting A Business In Chipping Campden
Getting Campden Yurts up and going was quite an adventure.
It was only made possible through the help, support, and skills of others, right here in Chipping Campden and the local area. And I am so grateful to have been able to tap into it.
Along the way I learnt some valuable lessons that I thought other start-ups might find useful, so here they are!
1. Other business owners are helpful and supportive
Actually, one of the main joys of starting this business has been meeting other glamping site owners, local business-people, coaches and trainers.
There really is a lot of help and goodwill out there. This is just as well as I had no idea where to even start back in 2014. My kids were 5 and 7 and at school and I needed something to work around the school run, clubs and looking out for my Mum who lives here too.
2. Getting feedback from others you trust as you test out your ideas
The idea of starting a glamping site on our smallholding in Chipping Campden kept floating around my head. My first step to making it happen was getting a place on the Women in Business course held at Campden High School.
This seven-week course took the overwhelm out of business plans, profit and loss and a whole heap of other stuff that was like a foreign language to me (and sometimes it still is!). It also confirmed to me that it was a viable business and worth investing in.
Further sources of guidance came from Gloucestershire’s The Growth Hub and Start and Grow Enterprise who put on free networking and training aimed at new and growing businesses.
At events in Gloucester and Cirencester I got to meet with like-minded people, learn from the professionals and enjoy lots of coffee, egg sandwiches and cake along the way.
WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) and now Gloucestershire Businesswomen’s Network Group have also been awesome – most of them are running their business on their own, and are aged from the 20’s to 70’s. They have a wealth of business and life experience and are great to share ideas with.
3. It will take you out of your comfort zone
With the help of local planning consultants, we acquired the necessary permissions for the yurts and bathroom block.
My project managing skills were put to the test as work began to put the electric, water and sewage services in. So many phone calls and site visits – lots of co-ordinating and referring back and forth about things I had previously known nothing about.
There were diggers, dumpers and deliveries…and we lived in a sea of mud for so many months. It was pretty grim.
It felt like we were really getting somewhere when our very patient, local builder friend began to build the bathroom block.
4. The internet is your shopfront: it’s all about your online presence
No longer can you just create a hospitality business and wait for people to find you, even if you are in the gorgeous Chipping Campden!
There are so many holiday options now – camping, glamping, cottages, hotels, treehouses…and more appear every day.
Marketing is just one of the tasks that takes time, energy and money. After all, there is no point having a business if no one knows about it. I try to avoid Online Travel Agents, some of whom can charge huge commission to the hosts, which is then passed on to guests when they book.
I wanted to focus on getting direct bookings through my website, being able to then offer a #BookDirect discount. This takes more work, so I need to keep Campden Yurts’ profile up and out there by using my website and social media and just one or two relevant listing sites.
There was no avoiding it, I had to quickly get my head around Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you ever see any of my posts and you like them – please do comment or share as it can really help them to be seen by more people!
Engaging is a quick, free way to support small local businesses.
5. Seek out experts you can trust
Every business needs a website and I turned to my talented friend Rebecca Denyer-White and her company Red Lemon Create, then based on Campden High Street. She helped with branding and created my website with integrated booking system, so we were good to start taking bookings!
Soon I needed an Accountant and found another local star Dan Colwell Accountants and his ever patient colleague Helen, who never makes me feel stupid for asking questions.
I have joined some great hospitality groups and associations and from them I learn about everything from legislation to how to give the best customer service.
Because I focus on direct bookings, I was delighted to find Boostly. Great training and a very engaged community of fellow hosts keep me focussed and on track. I got a new accommodation specific website through them in 2019, feeling I finally knew enough to manage it myself.
Now the glamping site has now been going for 5 years and it has proved a popular addition to Chipping Campden’s accommodation options.
I know we live in an amazing part of the country, and I really love sharing it with guests. I am always encouraging them to explore Campden, enjoy the tearooms and pubs, check out the museum, gallery, vineyard, and shops and support the local businesses.
I want to say a big thank you to Chipping Campden and to those who put so much into helping others, supporting local businesses and promoting our beautiful area.
That’s my top five lessons learnt. I hope you find them useful if you are planning to start a business in the Chipping Campden, or the Cotswolds. And finally, if you are thinking of starting a business – go for it. And good luck!