Starting Totally Awesome
We opened our shop in the last week of August 2017, only 4 weeks after picking up the keys from our landlady and we’re pretty proud of what we achieved in such a short time.
We were asked if we would share our experiences with other potential new business start-ups, so here are some of our thoughts.
Above all we believe we were successful because we put a lot of focus on up front planning.
Have a clear vision
We had a very clear picture in our heads of what I wanted to sell and the look and feel of the shop and the customer experience. I think our vision provided us all with clear focus and goal.
Find a Niche and have a USP
We knew that there was nothing in the area that did what we were planning. In fact I know of only a few stores like ours in the country. We knew there was a gap in the market. We knew this would be something different.
Complement local businesses
Along with the niche, we felt it was important to not compete with local businesses but to provide products or services that work well alongside them. Talk to them about what you intend to do if you feel there may be any potential for treading on each other’s toes.
Do your research
We talked to potential suppliers before we set up the business and talked them through our vision and got lots of good advice. One recommended we paid a visit to a store in York which had a similar theme to what we were planning.
So we did and I introduced myself to Mike the owner and talked about my plans. Because we’re far enough apart Mike was kind enough to share some of his experiences over the years. One of the most important pieces of advice was “Don’t buy what you want, buy what they want.”, he said, pointing to folk on the street.
Know your customers
That’s where your money’s going to come from so you need to understand who they are, where they are and their behaviours. We knew that there were Hebden Bridge locals, several schools, tourists and the park and skate park nearby. All of which would be sources of our customers.
Have detailed plan
We targeted opening 5 weeks after collecting the keys. We actually opened in 4. We wrote down pretty much everything we could think of that needed to be done before the shop opened. We worked backwards from the planned opening date. Our plan, which was just hand written in a notebook, included:
- Setting up a legal entity ready to trade
- Refit from a former café
- Stock – It’s harder than you think!
Figuring out what you’re going to sell is harder than you might think. Don’t underestimate what’s involved.
- Utilities, bank, insurance, internet, card machine and everything else.
Meticulously plan your finances
We set a budget for:
- Fixed costs (rent, utilities, lease, wages etc for the first 3 months)
- Set up costs (removal and refit costs, costs of fixtures and fittings)
- Cost of stock
All of the above we planned at a detailed level and we were pleased that we were within 10% of the projections.
- Build a forecast. In fact build 3. Worst case, best case and likely case. Make sure you can afford to fund the business
- Set up a system for how you’re going to manage ongoing finances.
- File everything where you can find it.
This will be your business. Prepare to put in long hours. Create some suspense and have fun.Don’t reveal all your plans. Tell people enough. Don’t give everything away. We had lots of fun setting up the business and have lots of fun running it. Some days we don’t want to leave. If you take a big decision to start your own business then you’ve got to enjoy doing it!