What’s the next step for a Global IT Manager after finishing an 11-year stint at a major oil company? Selling bee products if you’re Paul Southern and have a medical history that has led you to discovering the health benefits of Royal Jelly.
Sourced from a Bulgarian bee farm over a century old, the pollen and jelly sold by Well Bee-ing UK have earned praise as the best in the UK, and will be known by a much wider audience shortly, no doubt, given the tenacity of the proprietor. If you can resist visiting the online shop immediately, please listen to more of Paul’s fascinating story:
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
Well Bee-ing UK is a supplier of European-sourced Bee Products, including Honey, Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen and Propolis. I am the Director/Salesman/SEO expert/Customer Services Rep, etc. Our customers are based all over the world, but our main customers are based within the European Union. Customers use our products as a potent health supplement and to manage a whole range of illnesses that includes Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Arthritis, Depression, Lethargy, Fibromyalgia, Graves’ Disease, Hay Fever and other allergies, and much more.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
The potency of Fresh Royal Jelly is measured by a unique fatty acid that is only found in Royal Jelly called 10-HDA. Our bee farm in Bulgaria produces the highest-strength Fresh Royal Jelly in the world, containing 2.35% 10-HDA – you will not find higher-strength fresh royal jelly any where else in the world, and we guarantee it! The more 10-HDA, the faster the benefits will be realized and the faster the symptoms of illnesses will be reduced. Our Bulgarian bee farm was established in 1909 and is the oldest in Europe. This combination of great geography with expert beekeeping knowledge makes our Premium Bee Products the best in the world!
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Royal Jelly and Bee Pollen are synonymous with improving general well being. So, since the makers of our products are bees and we are based in the UK, I combined the words “well being” with “Bee” and came up with “Well Bee-ing UK.”
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first computer was an Atari 2600. I was probably about 15 when I first used the WWW, back in the early 1990s.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I start work around 8.30am (GMT). I work between 8-10 hours per day.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
I have Bipolar Affective Disorder which is a complex mood disorder. When I am having a hypomanic episode (periods of over activity) I come up with some of my best ideas. However, I have to keep the ideas to one side for a few days (or longer) to ensure my ideas are realistic.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started the company on my own. I have family members that help out with stock keeping, accounts, and customer services.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder over 15 years ago. To treat the depression of this illness, doctors prescribed me antidepressants as well as a mood stabilizer called Lithium and an antipsychotic medication called Quetiapine. The antidepressant caused manic episodes (extreme periods of elevation and over activity), so I could no longer take antidepressants. So, I found Fresh Royal Jelly to treat my depression and it worked well within a couple of weeks.
Also, after suffering with Hay Fever most of my life, after I’d been taking the Fresh Royal Jelly for several months, when summer came around, I noticed that for the first time in 20 years I had no hay fever symptoms. So now I know the potency and the benefits of Fresh Royal Jelly!
I worked at Shell for 11 years as a Global IT Manager. As the positions were being reduced there, I took voluntary redundancy and had a substantial pay-out for this. From the moment I took the redundancy, I started planning my new business with Bee Products.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
The first 12 months of starting my business were so hard, and several times I thought about “was it going to work” or “should I give up.” It was probably the most stressful time in my life. But I had the tenacity and courage to keep on going. I remember receiving my first purchase from a customer – it was very exciting. But back then I was lucky if I sold 2 items per week. Now I sell hundreds per month and we’re the biggest supplier of Fresh Royal Jelly in the UK.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
You have to be able to switch off from the stress. You cannot let stress rule your mind. Trying to get more people to visit your site is the hardest job – you have to try lots of different ways, read lots of information,learn how to use SEO for your business, make notes of those things that didn’t work.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
I listen to music nearly all day. I am a musical artist and I write, record, play the guitar, bass, piano, and I sing. I love rock and indie music, but my musical collection ranges from pop, dance, classical to jazz. Basically, there is excellent music in all genres.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
We are already the biggest supplier in the UK. I think we will be the biggest in Europe in 5 years.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
I am inspired by music, people that are successful in a range of areas. I suppose Richard Branson is certainly top of the list of my role models. James Dyson is also up there.
How’d you fund this venture?
I funded my venture through the redundancy money from working at Shell for 11 years.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Do your homework. Know who your customers are and how to appeal to them. Don’t spend on website services unless you know you can trust them – try to get a phone number from them. If a website does not have a number in which to contact a human being, be very wary of them!
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Money is always a big issue when starting a new business. Without money there is very little you can do and it is very hard to compete. Workout how much you need and get a business loan with the lowest APR.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I would take the family to the Bahamas for 2 weeks. Purchase a new car – possibly a BMW M5. I would seriously upgrade my Cambridge-made state-of-the-art Cyrus hi-fi system.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Yes, I am an entrepreneur. I have some more projects in the pipeline, and ever since I was around 14, I have always been keeping my eyes out for things I could make money out of. I think being an entrepreneur is a personality type.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Google – The only search engine I use.
- BBC News – Gives me all the updates I need while on the go.
- YouTube – The kids and I love listening and watching videos on this.
- Facebook – I keep all my close friend on there.
- Google AdWords – a massive part of my advertising campaign.
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
My music streaming player of choice is Cambridge-made Cyrus model Stream XP₂ Qx. Probably one of the best streaming players in the world. My current system is a 5 box Cyrus System with Mission Speakers. It’s very nice indeed!
Would you please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth?
On our websites, we attract around 1000 people per day. Our royal jelly was reviewed by one of the biggest news papers in the UK, The Daily Mail, as being the best Royal Jelly in the UK – this helps considerably.
Where else besides the website should our readers find you online?