engage magazine issue 005 \\\'07 - Page 70

70 CASE STUDY SmartChartz SmartChartz How I expanded and diversified my business Ironically, it was becoming a full-time mother that kickstarted Abiola Ajayi-Obe’s business, SmartChartz. With no experience of disciplining her two girls, she soon realised that some type of task and reward system was necessary if they were to avoid constant tears and arguments. The original chart she hung on the wall provided the foundations for SmartChartz, her business selling star chart systems for children. Since then, Abiola has diversified into offering training and development courses for teachers and employers as well. “When I set the business up in 2004 it only provided one solution: a way for parents and adults to manage children’s behaviour,” explains Abiola. “So I’ve had to be quite flexible, as for years I said training was not my thing, but you need to go with the flow. In fact, I’m selling more SmartChartz [also the name of the product] now on the back of the training, as people who hear me talk realise that I have something they can use.” Case study Starting from scratch When Abiola first began her business, she knew what she needed to do, but didn’t know where to start. “I had already found an illustrator and knew how I wanted to sell the chart, but I knew nothing about raising finance, trademark attorneys, printers, accountants, outsourcing and so on,” she says. So she turned to Business Link London and took part in an 18-month mentoring programme (this has since ceased). “I wouldn’t’ be sitting here now without that support; I certainly wouldn’t have been as successful as quickly,” she says. Business Link London also signposted Abiola to several suppliers: from accountants to outsourcers and marketing consultants. “The latter in particular was excellent and helped me at the very beginning in constructing research questionnaires when I was trying to discover if my product was viable,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Business Link London’s support at the beginning,” she adds. “My experience of working with them has been extremely positive.” engage | uk ISSUE FIVE 2007