The next time you source a hard-to-find item, think twice, as it might just reveal a gap in the market for a great business idea…
That’s precisely what happened to Maurice Lucas in 2009, when he went hunting for a few artificial trees for his house. Unable to find what he wanted, he turned to the internet, but discovered that to get his trees, they’d have to come from England – with a hefty postal charge attached.
“I thought – if I’m struggling to find these, everybody else will be struggling,” he says. Without further ado, his business idea for selling artificial plants was born and having recently left his manager’s job with a local retailer, Maurice decided to Go for it.
“I went on Causeway Enterprise Agency’s Go for it programme,” he says. “I had my business idea and they took me through the business plan.”
Having sold his car to buy stock, Maurice had moved Best Artificial from his home to a Causeway Enterprise workplace unit by the end of the year.
“CEA have been fantastic the whole way with me,” he says. “They’re there every step of the way. Even five years down the line, I’m still going there for advice.”
Initially planning to open a small shop and sell via ebay, Maurice’s internet sales took off and Best Artificial now sells a wide range of artificial trees, gardenware, flower and topiary balls through ebay, Amazon and Facebook, as well as via email marketing.
With seven full-time staff, Maurice has subsequently seen his business grow at the rate of 80% per year.
As he says: “That’s fantastic!”