‘Dear Dreamer’ series – my monthly biz chats with amazing entrepreneurs!
I’d like to introduce you to Nathalie – a very kind, creative, hard-working, full of positive energy and fab ideas SUPERWOMAN! The owner of Buttercup Bus. We had the chance to work together at the end of 2020 and I truly hope we’ll get to do that again in the future!
- Can you share a little bit about yourself and your business?
HI there! My name is Nathalie, and 11 years ago, I set up a company called Buttercup Bus Vintage Campers. We started out just hiring one campervan for wedding transport – but over the years have grown our fleet to 8 classic VW Campers and Beetles and have diversified to also offer campervan holiday rentals, campervan and beetle photobooths, popup glitter bars, dried flower tattoo bars, prosecco bars, branded campervan promotional tours…. AND…. something new and very special coming in the next few weeks – watch this space!!!
- What was your biggest challenge at the beginning of your business journey and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges at the beginning of my business journey was learning to “let go” in order to grow the business, By that, I mean taking on staff to drive my vehicles, and training them up to drive the campers or operate the photobooths etc without me actually being there for every event. This was necessary, as when the business grew, it was increasingly important for me to be at HQ, managing all the operations centrally, and supporting the team. I overcame the challenge of “letting go” by developing training material, induction sessions, handbooks, training videos, paperwork etc. Not to mention recruiting people with the right skills.
- Being a business owner means we get/have to wear many hats on a daily basis – does this ever make you feel a little overwhelmed or does it motivate you to keep going?
This is a constant challenge. In the early days, I had two very young children also in my care. Before they went to school, I took juggling to a whole new level! I clearly remember the days when I was managing multiple vehicles up to the mechanics for their maintenance schedules, whilst then having to walk back with two car seats, a baby in a pram and a small toddler.
There were a lot of late nights catching up on emails, accounts and other admin, as I could not fit it into the day. Things are a lot easier now that they are a bit older – and I have learned to outsource business functions to support me, such as accounting, virtual PAs, driver support etc.
I have always liked being busy – I feel restless if I have nothing to do – so yes, being a business owner certainly ticks that box! Ha!
- What would you say to someone who’s starting their own business right now?
Make sure that you pick something that you are absolutely passionate about, and build an amazing support group of people around you. There will be many long days, things to worry about and a steep learning curve. All of this becomes much easier if you love what you do, and have a wide support group to reach out to.
- What projects are you looking forward to this Summer? (As long as you’re happy to share and they’re not top secret, of course :))
We are coming to the end of a branded promotional campervan tour for a well known luxury sunglasses brand – and this has been a really enjoyable project. I love promotional tour bookings, as every job is so unique – and it’s always fun to see our campervans dressed up in their branding.
I also have another top secret project coming soon, combining two of my favourite things – campervans and ??? – more about that in a few weeks time!
The beauty of having campervans is that they lend themselves to so many things – and whilst lockdown has happened, it has afforded me the thinking space to build new ideas and services.
- What type of project would you like to work on this year/what’s your favourite type of project to work on?
I love coming up with new ideas – developing new services and getting creative. Often I don;t get the time to indulge in such things – but this year I’ve had the opportunity to think outside the box. I’ve loved working with Lily Jones Events (https://www.lilyjonesevents.co.uk/) on our new Drive In Camper Wedding initiative … and I also took the opportunity this year to fulfil a long term personal goal on gaining some basic welding skills – this in turn enabled me to build a new popup campervan mobile bar – which we will use to serve Prosecco.
- Can you describe what your day-to-day as a business owner looks like?
1. Answering emails and phone calls
2. Recruiting and training staff / contractors
3. Event planning, from risk assessments to job sheets etc
4. Packing campervans and checking kit – and I spend an insane amount of time frequenting petrol stations too!
5. Quality checking / maintaining vehicles and kit
6. Social media / website management / marketing
7. Creating props and setups for our events
8. Writing proposals, building opportunities and sending quotes
9. Managing finances / insurance / certifications
10. Keeping on top of legislation, from HR to Covid to GDPR to TFL, to Tax to H&S…. it’s all got to be done!
Nathalie, I am so grateful that you’ve agreed to take part in this biz series – thank you so much! I can’t wait to find out more about this secret project that you’re currently working on, but I am sure it will be something very exciting!
If you’re also eager to find out, make sure you’re following Nathalie on Instagram and check out her website.
The amazing photo of Nathalie (at the top of this post) was taken by @katebostonphotography.
P.S. If you’d like to join my email club and not miss any of the ‘Dear Dreamer’ letters then you can sign up at the bottom of the page here. You’ll also receive a free guide with 7 steps to help you feel more confident during your personal branding session when you join! 🙂