Keeping the ball rolling: How one enterprising dad has kept the money coming in during lockdown with his side hustle – and how you can too!

Have you always dreamed of heading up your own business, or longed for a way to make some extra money on the side of your 9-to-5?
50-year-old Dipesh Morjaria achieved this dream for himself when he created Lionstrike, a side hustle inspired by his sons. Here, he reveals how he achieved it with the help of eBay – and shares his tips for creating a lucrative online enterprise of your own.
Wanting to make football easier for little ones, Dipesh saw a need for lightweight footballs and set to work making a business out of them
 When I first designed the products for Lionstrike, I just felt that eBay was the easiest route for me
In 2012, when his youngest boy found traditional footballs too heavy to kick, Dipesh went to the internet in search of a lighter alternative – but found none.
‘It all started with my three sons,’ he says. ‘My youngest really struggled kicking a football, he was 7 at the time. It was clear that the footballs were too heavy for him, so I researched lighter footballs and other than the plastic ones there weren’t really any proper lighter options. I looked a bit harder and still found nothing, so I thought I’d be adventurous and leapt at the opportunity to go into manufacturing them. I felt it would be an interesting activity for me to do and it would allow me to test develop a product which would be a new venture for me.’
And with that, his side hustle Lionstrike was born on eBay. ‘I knew the platform quite well because I had been selling on it through a personal account for a number of years,’ explains Dipesh. ‘I’ve always liked eBay – it’s a great way of recycling old things and getting money for things you no longer need. I also found it really easy to use. When I first designed the products for Lionstrike, I just felt that eBay was the easiest route for me.’

It was the ideal marketplace for Dipesh to set up. You can find anything and everything here, so even niche products such as lightweight footballs can gain traction pretty quickly, as Dipesh has found out.
Lionstrike’s lightweight footballs have been a hit with families and football coaches everywhere, from England, Germany and even Japan, bringing an annual turnover of £150,000 – a nice sum to accompany the salary from his main job as a digital media consultant. During the national lockdown, it’s proved a lifeline as, like many of us, his usual work has dried up completely.
eBay makes all of this really easy without much commitment 
‘The coronavirus has been a bit of a silver lining for me, really,’ reveals Dipesh. ‘Since lockdown kicked in, my business has gone up 20 per cent. I’ve been lucky; my sales have been going really well because everyone wants a football to entertain the little ones during lockdown.’
Despite the success he’s seen, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. ‘I had some stock, but not a huge amount so that started to sell out pretty quickly,’ he explains. ‘I put an order into my supplier’s factory in Pakistan but they had all cleared out for the lockdown and they told me they wouldn’t be open for three and a half weeks. Then when production restarted, they found they weren’t getting all the materials they needed, which has delayed me so that’s been tricky.’
This is a problem many businesses have had, but Dipesh has been lucky in having some stock to fall back on to meet demand. Besides, this small blip gives him the chance to think about the direction Lionstrike is taking.
Dipesh says: ‘I’d like to make this a full time career but it’s down to profitability. If I can get it to a point where I can be comfortable long term, pay my mortgage and keep my wife happy, then I’ll do it, but I’ll keep my consultancy going until that happens.

‘Until then, I think there’s a lot to be done in the sports category and Lionstrike can help,’ he continues. ‘I want to start producing match balls – a slightly heavier option to help train children to use normal footballs. I’m also thinking about shin pads and I might do other things that might appeal to kids and their enjoyment of football.’
Dipesh's top tips 
One day, Dipesh hopes to even set up his own football academy using Lionstrike products. But to reach this point, he’s had to face some big challenges and learn a few lessons. Here, he shares his top tips for setting up a successful eBay side hustle:
1. 'Look through your numbers on a regular basis. I used to leave my accounts for three months at a time and before I knew it, things weren’t adding up and I needed to know immediately that there was a problem.
2. 'Vet your manufacturers really well, because your reputation rests on it and if you get it wrong, it costs so much money to destroy bad products and refund your customers.'
3. 'Excel at customer service. If you’re not a big company with a huge budget to brand yourself, then you’ve got to rely on what you’re good at to build your reputation. I hang my hat on really good products and excellent service; those are the things I have to get right, otherwise people won’t come back. Now I have a really loyal audience.'
4. 'If you have an idea, I’d say simply try it out. It’s the same with any small business; try and test daily, fail, learn and get feedback. eBay makes all of this really easy without much commitment. You can promote in different territories and test out different audiences. It’s exactly where I started and I received the feedback I needed to develop in the right direction.'

Inspired to set up your own business? 

Discover more inspiring SME stories with our eBay hub 

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.