MyHairDressers.com is a subscription-based service providing online training for hairdressers. It gives its members around the world quick and easy access to the world’s best hairdressers, enabling them to gain the relevant skills and accreditation they need to stay ahead in their profession.
Entrepreneur Mark Butcher took control of the business in August 2010, but soon realised that his approach to exporting was not working as he had hoped. On the recommendation of an acquaintance, he joined Passport to Export, the UKTI programme that gives exporting companies the tools they need to grow their busines internationally.
I’m an experienced entrepreneur and at first I was very sceptical about what support UKTI could offer me and my business,
I’d assumed that there would be a load of red tape to get through before anything concrete was achieved. But this wasn’t the case and I couldn’t believe how much support they had to offer.
Taking a different approach
A UKTI International Trade Adviser (ITA) worked with Mark and helped him see that many of the business decisions for MyHairdressers.com had been based on rather vague information. The ITA recommended that Mark join the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS), through which UKTI provides funding and free advice to help organisations to research overseas markets and develop a market entry strategy.
Mark had already identified Australia as a strong potential market for MyHairDressers.com. A UKTI Research Adviser in Essex met with him to discuss how to get the crucial information that would enable him to make the best strategic decisions for how to enter this market. The first step was a research trip to Australia, to understand local market conditions.
Initially, I thought it was ridiculous to go all the way to Australia and not sell my products,
But, working with my Research Adviser, I was able to identify the key decisions I would need to make before launching in Australia: how to adapt the product for the Australian market; what accreditation would be required; what would be the optimum pricing strategy; and what would be the best route to market.
She helped me to work out how to find the information I needed to make these decisions, and who I’d need to talk to along the way.
Getting the right information
Mark went to Australia in November 2011 with a busy itinerary. By the end of his seven-day trip, he had met with salon owners, representatives of the various hairdresser ccreditation bodies, education institutes and private training providers, and students. Thanks to this thorough research, Mark realised that his offering simply would not have worked. He wrote his findings into a comprehensive report, creating a robust business plan for the future success of MyHairDressers.com.
Having visited Australia and spoken to people in the know there, our business totally changed,
I saw the value of following the EMRS principles and realised that not having had the right information was the cause of every business failure I’d had.
Looking to the future
Now, 18 months after taking over the business, Mark is delighted at the company’s success. MyHairDressers. com now employs 20 people, with a growing network of over 70 people on the books worldwide. The company’s annual turnover has increased from around £200,000 to a forecasted £1.4 million in 2013 and the business has been totally restructured around producing products and services which address the needs of MyHairDressers. com’s target market.
The Australia trip was a key changing point in our business,
Without UKTI’s support, we would not be in the position we are in today. We have now built a solid business, ready to face the future.
Target Market: Australia
UKTI Service: Export Marketing Research Scheme