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The personalised messaging service that believes some things are better said in chocolate...
Founder: Dicky Broadhurst
Company: Morse Toad Marvellous Messaging
Location: Lymington, New Forest
Proposition: Morse Toad is a messaging service that allows you to communicate via the medium of chocolate and photography.
How is your business different from what’s already out there?
In today’s world of instant digital communication, the post is an increasingly awesome way to communicate. But cards take too long, they taste bad, and they don’t look great on a cake.
Morse Toad combines our digital world with our tangible one by providing an online tool that allows you to write up-to 44 characters in premium Belgian milk chocolate. Add a photo and a note to be printed on the card insert and have it delivered through any letterbox nationwide.
Let’s face it, some things are better said in chocolate!
How did you finance your business?
The business is mostly self-funded, with some help from a government grant and Virgin Startup loans.
What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?
Cash flow – with multiple outgoings and highly seasonal incomings, managing cash flow is fundamental to ensure you can continue in the quiet times.
What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?
Our biggest challenge is not eating all the chocolate! After that, it is finding out how to consistently market to the right people, and attract new business.
What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?
As a predominantly online business, we focus on social media, bloggers and competitions to attract visitors. We also use some paid services like Facebook and Google.
Beyond that, there is a lot to be said for networking at events, running stalls and generally talking to anyone who comes within audible distance from you.
Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?
I think it is important, but only when you’ve got your main source of income established. I know of some businesses that derive most of their business from exporting, however I imagine these are in the minority. Exporting involves a lot of research and paperwork, so risks being a time sponge. Only approach if you’re looking to expand.
What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?
Tough one, I have hundreds. My whole business is on my phone. However, if I had to choose it would be analytics. The interface is simplified on there so it’s easier to process.
Describe your company’s culture in three words:
Fun. Humorous. Imaginative.
What would you like the government to do for small business?
Provide greater access to grants and funding. Keep business rates free for longer. Provide tax support in other areas.
Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?
I love the guy from Willie’s Cacao. He’s one of those people where his personality does all the work for his brand. I also started out with some girls who set up Nix & Kix, and those girls set the benchmark pretty high for what you need to be doing to get ahead.
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
I aim to be approaching £1m turnover, have a broader range of chocolate products, and be in a position to introduce phase two of Morse Toad Messaging.
What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?
There are services galore offering to help you do this and that. These people will flatter you, say your business is the best and then charge you through the nose for something that you would ultimately do a better job at.
You should definitely outsource certain things, but make sure it’s things that don’t affect the business brand like your accounts. If you do outsource, research thoroughly. The guys with the best marketing spiel will always cost the most. There are freelancer sites where the same thing can be done for a fraction.