17 October 2018
I've finished reading Start and Run a Gift Shop, by Val Clark. The book is nearly ten years old; I found a second-hand copy after spotting a recommendation online. It's one of the most approachable (and enjoyable) 'how to' books that I've come across. An easy read, it covers a lot of the basics and gets you thinking about everything from deciding which products to sell and the layout of a shop, to finances and marketing.
From the start, the author encourages you to ask yourself why your shop will succeed when so many others fail. So, why do shops fail?
- They no longer sell things that people want.
- People can buy the goods cheaper elsewhere, especially with the growth of online shopping.
- The owners have borrowed too much money, which makes it difficult to survive any sort of downturn.
I'd recommend the book if, like me, you are starting from knowing nothing about running a retail shop.
6 October 2018
There is so much to do. I'm trying to be very practical about what I can realistically achieve while still working full-time. The challenge is, because I'm so excited about this project, that I just want to do everything now. Today. This minute.
There is one date that I'm working towards. In January, there's a trade fair in Glasgow where I could meet makers (i.e. designers, artists, craftspeople) and buy product. It's an opportunity to meet a lot of makers in one location and to see their products. The next fair is in September 2019, so the January show would be ideal. As soon as I start to buy product, the clock really starts ticking to launch the site.
Therefore, I am building a plan for what needs to be done and by when, working backwards from the trade fair. This is particularly important for things that will cost me money: I don't want to start spending money on the business until I really need to. For example, I'm going to build the site on an e-comm platform, Shopify. Shopify will charge me a monthly fee so I don't want to start building the site until I have product and am nearing a launch date. Similarly, I don't want to register the limited company, sign up for a tax accountant, register for a bank account, etc. until I need to start doing business in the company name.
I've got around three and a half months to do a lot of learning, amongst many other things. I'm mapping out what I will do each month, keeping it to two or three things that are a priority and making it achievable. It's a very busy time at work right now, so I have to be realistic about how much time — and brain space — I will have to devote to Peg & Patch.
2 October 2018
I like to think that every day is a school day and, tonight, it really was.
Every day is a school day
I've signed up for a few evening classes about starting a business. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm really glad that I did it. There are around nine of us in the class. Most have a business idea, but there are a couple of students who simply want to open their own business but haven't yet settled on what type of business it will be.
Many are looking for the alternative to corporate life: happy to put in the hours but would prefer that they are putting all that love, sweat and tears into their own business.
Everyone's ideas are really diverse, just like their backgrounds. I don't think there are any duplicate business ideas. What's really great is the enthusiasm in the room, for their own business idea and for others'. Very encouraging. Very motivational.
I've walked away thinking I'm not crazy for doing this, and that I actually know more than I thought I did. Okay, maybe not about retail, buying and selling products, finances ... the big stuff. But I have made products and sold them via online marketplaces, and I've managed people and contractors before. And my communications background — developing networks, understanding an audience, dabbling in technology — is incredibly valuable.