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Katy Weir – Katy’s Campers

Lone parent Katy Weir realised that motherhood might put paid to some of her plans for exotic holidays to far-flung climes. So she fulfilled a life-long dream and bought VW T25 camper van and planned to explore closer to home. Little did she know that she was taking the first steps on the path to [...]

Lone parent Katy Weir realised that motherhood might put paid to some of her plans for exotic holidays to far-flung climes. So she fulfilled a life-long dream and bought VW T25 camper van and planned to explore closer to home. Little did she know that she was taking the first steps on the path to self-employment and running her own business hiring out camper vans for holidays, festivals, special occasions and corporate events.

“Our new camper van was brilliant and my daughter loved it, but camper vans are expensive and every week something new would need attention. It needed to earn its keep,” says Katy. “Initially I planned to hire out my old van for a few weeks of the year and I would go back into secondary school science teaching. But as interest increased and more enquiries and bookings came in, Katy’s Campers as a viable business became a realistic possibility. For the first six months I did a lot of research, invested in another van, got to grips with some key principles of business and assessed the viability of my business plan.”

Key to researching and learning how to run her new business was local business start-up support organisation Outset Bristol. “I came to Outset Bristol because I knew that alone I didn’t have the business knowledge or experience to know where to start or how to keep going. I knew that Outset Bristol would provide vital information and support in the key aspects of starting and running a business. It would have been foolish to not take advantage of free help. I also wanted to meet other people in a similar position to me to share ideas and make some friends. Running my own business gives me the flexibility to work around looking after my daughter, but working from home can be lonely and occasionally you can question the decisions you make.”

Katy joined the Outset Bristol programme in May 2011 and progressed through their Introduction to Enterprise and Business Start-up workshops, receiving more than 50 hours of free advice and support to help her start her business. “Outset Bristol has been amazing in helping me in all aspects of my business start-up. Specifically with my market research, which was absolutely essential for developing the structure of my business. The results of the market research saved me time and money, focused my ideas and enabled me to target my marketing. They also helped me develop my pricing, which is an important and very transparent part of my business and I must get right.

“I consult Outset Bristol if I need someone to bounce ideas off and to ask advice about specific issues. By engaging with and acting upon the advice they have provided I feel inspired and so much more confident that my business has every chance of success.”

Katy now has three vans ready for the summer season and is operating from a business unit in Brislington, where she offers secure parking for her customers’ vehicles whilst they are on holiday.

“At Katy’s Campers our aim is to be as good as, or better than, other self-catering accommodation by providing all the equipment you would need for your holiday, and a few luxurious extras. Our vans are new, reliable and designed with family safety in mind.

“My plans for the business over the next few years are to grow in terms of number of vans and think about other ways to expand. I want to develop a brand identity, recognisable as a successful Bristol business and be known for excellent customer service. But most importantly I want to be able to give people happy memories to remember forever.”

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