All entrepreneurs are serious about their biz, I am sure of that but there are two main types – those that are in it to get rich quick and those (moi) that have slower growing businesses that take time (painstaking time) to take off. The latter group love their business as a way of life and a passion that they’ve got to fulfil, rather than just a money-making scheme. That’s not to say you won’t find passionate people in the first group, but I should say that one is a head-decision, the other a heart-decision. Are you doing this because it’s a good investment, or because you can’t possibly imagine doing anything else?
I should say I could have bailed a thousand times with my own biz. In the struggling years when making ends meet was so tough, and I just didn’t understand why people weren’t camping out at night to come in first thing and get their hands on our products! A thousand times I could have quit. I went to bed thinking about it often but when morning came around I always fundamentally and inherently had faith that we would make it.
Fast forward to now and yes that faith has paid off. As they say, it takes 10 years and a lot of hard work to become an “overnight success”! But when things start happening they keep on happening… the opportunities that come through the door every week are amazing. Not all of them come through but a lot of them will so we work at break neck speed – and suddenly you’re juggling a zillion balls in the air.
Here are my top tips for harnessing that passion and using it to hit the big time. Obviously they are personal and won’t work for everyone but it sure has worked for us:
Don’t get too big too fast
In the early days I wanted stores across the globe and wasted a whole lot of time looking at premises all over. If I had just studied the figures in more detail I would have realised that I was totally naïve, and we couldn’t sustain a string of stores. Build what you have first then expand. Also I’ve totally changed direction since then and now I’m focusing on designing and wholesaling our own product label instead. So it’s our products that take the main stage (as it should be!).
Root yourself in a place and community
We have the coolest community. It’s taken time to create but our customers – you guys – are so integral to our business. The feedback we get on social, the amazing discussions that happen in our comments section, the lovely customers who walk through the shop door, it all means so much to us! I recently did an interview with Islington’s The Resident mag about why I love the area, and why sticking put (even though we’re upgrading to a bigger store) is actually the best thing for our business.
If you know you have an upmarket product, it’s OK to charge an upmarket price. You can offer something different and beautiful to your customers, and get the better margins that mean you’ll keep thriving. There’s no point trying to be the cheapest out there – you’re not the size of TK Maxx or IKEA. You can never take on the mass market unless you are a seriously big fish. Design or buy products that are pitched higher where you get better margins.
Don’t just sell products, sell a story
Whether you have a website or bricks and mortar store retail these days is all about creating an experience. People don’t just buy products anymore they buy concepts, brands, narratives… that’s where you need to be.
Be innovative and be brave
Push boundaries with products, do something differently people will totally and utterly respond to it. Not everyone sure, but it’s better to be “love it or hate it” than just middle of the road mediocre. You’d rather be somebody’s shot of whiskey than everybody’s cup of tea, remember!
Keep at it
Keep keep keep repeating. Do what you do best over and over again and you will break through if you keep the faith! Take us with our faux botanicals, and paint it took a little while for them to take off but now everyone around the world wants them. We didn’t give up even in the early days when sales were slow because I new I just new that the quality and luxury and the fabulousness of them would sell!
Have genuine passion
If you don’t love what you do, sleep, breath, talk about it get out fast I say. Retail is tough you have to be prepared to put a lot of leg work in before anything really starts happening. When it does, hold onto your seats it gets kind of crazy!