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Follow Small Business Start Up with The Sunday Times

The entrepreneur section of The Sunday Times  is featuring a series whereby the paper is tracking the start up and development of three new companies. The series has been tracking the companies since 2006 and has told the story so far of all the trials and tribulations that each company has gone through.

Julie Diem Le has set up her own company manufacturing sunglasses – Zoobugs. She left her job as an eye surgeon for the NHS and started up her own company manufacturing and selling sunglasses for children. She secured an initial loan of £35,000 and has since been approved for an additional loan of £60,000 for the expansion of the company. Julie’s range is now stocked in 13 countries and she is considering developing a range of optical glasses for children.

Marc Demarquette has set up his own artisan chocolatiers. After getting a £40,000 bank loan, he set up his own shop in London and has expanded the company from there. Demarquette Chocolates now supply bespoke ranges to other retailers such as Fortnum & Mason and offer an online ordering service. Easter 2008 recorded sales 20% higher than what they projected and the company has been growing. Marc advises anyone interested in starting up their own company “Take the plunge if you are more than 120% sure that you want to do it. It’s a rollercoaster ride and there are some huge ups and downs. For me it’s still seven days a week, waking up at 4am or 5am. My life has had to be put on hold and I am not getting the City salary I used to, but I’m loving it. It’s worth every minute.”

Rob Taub has set up Sportsbase – an online portal for individuals interested in sports and fitness. Originally Rob started up the company with another friend; however this partner dropped out after just four months. Rob managed to forge a partnership with two other bodies who pledged to invest £80,000 over two years; however despite this the company has struggled. One of the problems has been keeping a regular audience to the site so that they can keep advertisers interested. Rob remains optimistic however “I’m still really positive and enthusiastic about the project and I’m confident I can make something special out of it. The potential is massive.”

Reading through the updates on each company draws your attention to the various problems encountered during a business start up, such as funding, marketing, business relationships and workforce. If you are thinking about starting up your business or just starting out – this series is worth reading – if only just to know that you are not on your own!

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