A lot of people want to open a store, and I’m here to tell you that yes, it’s great. Also, yes it’s terrifying! Nothing beats being your own boss and carving your own career path. It’s incredibly gratifying – but its also challenging, hard work and frustrating. So for today’s biz column I wanted to give anyone whose thinking about taking the leap a heads-up.
Buy things that sell
Sounds like a no-brainer I know, but bear with me! Just because you think you have quote-unquote “good taste” doesn’t mean other people think you have. Put your ego on hold and don’t open a store because you think you’re inherently fabulous at interiors or fashion or food. You still need to do your research. Figure out the best location, your target market, your USP – basically why would people buy from you in the first place?
On the other hand, nor is there much point in simply copying what someone else is doing. Just because they’ve made a success of it doesn’t mean you will. Customers don’t jump ship just because you’ve opened up and you’re stocking what everyone else is – to succeed in this crazy business of retail you have to carve your own path. Following the curve gets you nowhere.
You will be frustrated by everything and everyone
Frustration is a common occurrence. Tweaks on your website take twice as long as you imagined, product development, copywriting, factories screwing up, shipments delayed because of bad weather, not to mention complaints, colleagues, bank managers – even the guy pouring my flat white(!) – will send you over the edge.
It’s not really your fault though. When you’re juggling a zillion plates you will continually be annoyed, irritated and pisssssed off. People won’t get or see your vision, they’ll pull it apart, dilute it, on and on I could go. Keep the faith I say. Believe in yourself and stick to your guns and learn not to get too frustrated about things taking longer than you want. It’s part and parcel of the job. Try to come up with solutions rather than continually being irritated. Drill into how to make things work for everyone. Surround yourself with a wonderful team that will help, not hinder. Take a breath, walk away and come back to the table with resolutions.
Don’t go in thinking small, go in thinking the world is my oyster. Don’t plan on working in the store, or running an online marketplace with just you, and you alone. It will never work out and you won’t be able to grow.
This is one of the major mistakes I made, I manned and worked the store for years and yes it gave me an incredible insight into my customers but it prevented me from moving on. I was there for way too long so couldn’t grow the rest of the business. Totally shortsighted. Not just that buying and designing is a full time job and requires so much thought let alone operational procedures, editorial calendars, marketing meetings – it’s full on. So always ask yourself – is this scaleable? Make sure you’ve got a great working situation for now, but always keep one eye on the future and where you want to be next.
It will never get easier
You will eat, sleep, talk, read, study, compare, worry, freak out and breathe your business. This is normal. Your problems will change as your business develops, but believe me they’ll never go away! It will get more complicated and complex as you expand. I heard a great quote about running once, “It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster.” Business is just the same.
I guess what I’m trying to say is if you’re in it for the supposed ‘fame’ or making a quick buck – you’re be going down the tubes at some point. Passion is everything. I’m not motivated by money I’m motivated by creating the coolest interiors brand on the planet – it excites me it terrifies me it delights me, it frustrates me but I feel I’m only just scratching the surface and I have so much more I could and want to do. I go to bed thinking about it, I dream about it and I wake up excited by it. Running a business is harder than I ever imagined but days pass in a flash and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else*.
*Apart from running away to live in a cabin in the woods. That’s only on bad days!