- Player: Alison Deary
- Company: Most Organised Mother Diary
- Launched: 2010
- Visit: wonderfullyorganisedwomen.co.za
Two of the most basic and effective start-up tips are ‘do what you know’ and ‘solve a need’. First, because you don’t want to be venturing into completely unknown territory; and second, if it drives you crazy and you’re looking for a solution, chances are, there are other people out there just like you, who are looking for the same solution.
When Alison Deary launched Most Organised Mother Diary in 2010, she ticked both those boxes.
“I’ve always been a very organised person, but five men at home seriously put that to the test,” she says.
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“All four of my boys were in different schools at the time – pre-primary, primary, high-school and college – and keeping their schedules straight was becoming a full-time job. I needed everything in one diary – kids, work and goal setting.”
Like any true entrepreneur, Deary found that what she was looking for didn’t exist, and so she created her own.
“I had a very clear system: I needed space to set up all the information I’d need for the year, including ID numbers, cell numbers, PUK numbers, birthdays, even when each of the kids got sick. Any information I’d need to fill in forms.
“I then needed a goals page, and an area where I could plan high priority but low urgency tasks – the tasks that often get ignored because of more pressing, but less important tasks.
“A third section is to reflect on the previous year – what worked and what didn’t? What should I be taking into the new year?
“I would then review my priorities on a month by month basis, so I needed an opening page at the beginning of each month with any goals or tasks that had to be completed that month. This is separate from daily to-do lists. I’ve found that if you include your top priorities in your daily to-do lists, they get ignored in favour of the simpler and more urgent tasks, and they just end up getting rewritten into each new list, and never completed.
“Finally, I wanted follow-up blocks throughout the month – what have I actioned that I need feedback for before I can continue?” Having established what she needed her yearly planner to look like, Deary created her own.
Turning a solution into a business
At the time, Deary had sold her book-keeping business and invested in a start-up. Unfortunately, the business faced a number of challenges, and liquidated within a year.
“I needed a plan, and quickly. I reviewed my expertise, my background and what I had at my disposal – and realised that I’d inadvertently created an incredible product for myself that other mothers would find useful: My diary. I had experience in running a business, and I was determined to make a go of it.”
As with any start-up, there were challenges. Diaries are traditionally viewed as freebies from corporates, so Deary has had to convince her target market to spend money on a superior product. She also decided to monetise through advertising revenue in addition to cover sales, although the lead times associated with advertising sales has meant going to print later than she would like.
Matching products to needs
Over the past five years, the business has grown, and her products have diversified, largely because she’s paying close attention to what people need.
“At first, I created A4 planners, because that’s what I used. I very quickly got feedback from mothers that they needed A5 planners with time slots, so the following year I introduced these.”
Deary has also recognised that mothers, women who aren’t mothers, entrepreneurs and students all have different organisational needs, and so she’s created different planners to match their specific requirements under the ‘Sorted’ trademark.
“We also have plans to develop an app, because people are either paper-based or electronic, and I want to tap into all aspects of the market,” says Deary, as she continues on her quest to help the world become more organised, reach its goals, and be a little less stressed in the process.