I started a business with a baby: Cathy Belford of Discover Me Toys

Tell us a little about your business

DiscoverMe Toys is an online toy store specialising in educational toys that complement the 6 key learning areas of EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage). Our toys include traditional wooden toys, beautifully hand-crafted jigsaw puzzles, activity toys, books and games. I love the toys available at DiscoverMe and we have 2 little product testers to put the toys through their paces. We have recently received a Gold Website Award from MumpreneurUK.

What was your job before starting your business?

I worked in recruitment after graduating from University, specialising in business development and account management working with many of the UK’s leading IT companies.

How did you go from your old career to your new business?

I was made redundant a couple of weeks before my first son arrived on the scene and had a few difficult months but ultimately this made me more determined to realize my ambitions and go into business by myself.

What were your reasons for starting a business?

I have always wanted to start my own business for reasons such as creating and developing a venture that I have direct control over, knowing that success is directly linked to my hard work and initiative and  being my own boss. It is only since launching DiscoverMe that I really do appreciate that I have been able to spend more time with my boys and be a massive influence on their development.

Did you use any childcare?

I have quickly realized that available time plus 2 active little boys do not go hand in hand! I have my eldest in nursery one day a week and although I am lucky in that I have a good family network close by, I have to use my babysitting credits wisely. Nap times and evenings are when I can dedicate my time to my business.

How did you get your business idea?

It was an idea that developed rather than a “eureka moment”. I am very passionate about my sons’ development and growth (not the pushy kind, but the harness-what-they-enjoy and encourage-new-experiences) and when searching online for educational and fun toys for my son, I felt that I would be capable of creating a better online toy store. Better in terms of a professional website that is easy to navigate with clear product images and descriptions to ensure a really positive shopping experience for all our customers. Also, most importantly, full to the brim with lots of fun yet educational toys at great prices.

What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

Time is my main challenge. My boys do demand a lot of my time and attention (rightly so!) and I find it difficult to dedicate enough time to the website and all that it entails. I’ve not yet overcome this challenge!

What training, information or advice did you need to get started?

I contacted business link and spent time with a business advisor from my local business consultancy. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and have been privy to a number of business conversations over the years which has given me an understanding of running your own business – the highs and the lows. I try to gain new knowledge as often as possible on all aspects of business, for example I have attended free HMRC courses.

If you could give one piece of advice to a mum of a baby or toddler starting a business, what would it be?

Working from home can be tough. My one piece of advice would be to keep a realistic yet fairly strict diary or routine. Yes, you do have to factor in the times that your little one is feeling unwell/teething/grumpy (always on a nursery day!!) when setting and meeting deadlines. However, be strict with the time you allow to housework, family or home related errands and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by trivial things such as Neighbours . . . the TV programme, not those next door to you.


Facebook: www.facebook.com/discovermetoys

Twitter: @discovermetoys


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