As I approach the 2nd anniversary of Holy Cow!! Home, I shudder to think that I am now approaching the third year – often quoted as being the make or break one. I also reflect on the lessons learnt, and analysing whether or not to tie myself into a lease for 10 years plus.
Having never run a business, it has been a real challenge. I’m a lady of short stature, only 4’9” known at school as Midget, then Half-pint in my first Saturday job at Woolworths. My actual name is Poonam, aka Pooni and now I will also answer to Holy Cow. The only time I’m an extrovert is on the dance floor and I cry both when I’m happy and when sad – no matter what, I just can’t hold back the tears. My late father would always say, “she only has to scrunch her nose to squeeze the tears out”. I am happily married to Dr Gupta who serves the community as a GP by day and me at weekends as a Coulli, and two teenage mutants.
This also means it’s impossible for me NOT to be myself as there is no armour, I am what I am, what you see is what you get. I love what I do, and I love waking up every morning and am grateful for what I have.
As Christmas approached last year, I was thinking, what can I change to make Holy Cow!! Home a financial success, not just a business loved by all who experience it – experts state “don’t expect to make money in the first three years”. My business is not a new invention, I’m not even selling my own product; it is a conglomeration of many items from different origins; my USP being either Handmade, Fair-trade, Recycled, Reclaimed, and Unique, all things that are important to me, and should be for more people on this planet.
Let us rewind a couple of months. I had a frank conversation with my family, to consider putting down the Holy Cow!! Home, by handing in my notice to the landlord rather than commit to a 10-year lease tie in. Christmas sales in 2016 were much better that 2015 but not enough to be sure.
I know I have great products, a great website, organically grown followers on social media, passion, drive, a gem of a shop (which only can be found by those who dare to venture off the beaten track) and have done lots of marketing in 2016, but the numbers still do not quite add up. I won the best new business in town award and have the most wonderful customers who love coming back to the shop – some wave the Holy Cow!! Home flag while others keep it as their own secret guilty pleasure – both I see as a compliment!
The accountant in my head says “no, pack it in now,” fighting against the entrepreneur in my heart which reminds me that “Rome was not built in a day”.
From purely a business perspective it is ultimately all about sales. Having watched ‘The Apprentice’, I cannot help but imagine myself in the boardroom with Lord Sugar blurting while my eyes start to well, “it ‘s all about the bottom line, we are running a business not a charity… mark up, margins, sales, profit., return on investment blah blah blah… and then waiting for that dreaded finger to point at me
I had thought of a change in location, but on balance it would be too costly, and I have an online shop to address this. To switch site to a higher footfall centre would attract higher rent and rates – too expensive for a start-up without a dragon behind them, though I was surprised that the online sales were far behind shop turnover.
Some wise folk state that if you really pursue such a passion enough, the entire universe shifts for it to become a possibility. I know this sounds a little ‘hocus-pocus’ but by some coincidence (or transcendental process?) things did somehow fall into place!
While I was considering but certainly not ready to let go of Holy Cow!! Home, two days before the end of 2016, I received a phone call from the accounting software company, Sage, advising me that a customer had nominated me in their ‘#thereforus’ competition, and that I had won the cash prize of £5000! Then a few days later a meeting with my landlord resulted in him offering to postpose the break clause by a year to allow me more time to decide. Then to top it all, in January, which is usually a very quiet month for retail, a single customer spent enough to virtually cover a month’s rent
Since then I have also aired my feelings with other successful women in business. The support and help out there is tremendous. I have been reminded both by circumstances and supporters, that small businesses are run by real people, for real people. Hail SME’s (Small to Medium sized Enterprise)
I attended an event in March where the keynote speaker was the inspiring Mary Porter, who is at the top of her game in retail, and has achieved that by applying the same ethics and principles as I do. I need not conform to conventional business models, I am happy with the way things are and my way is the true way. I need not change myself. With this thought I shall move forward and look forward to a 10 plus year lease with confidence.
Thank you for reading, please feel free to share, comment and shop at Holy Cow!! Home and if you cant find what you are looking for, let me try and find it for you