Who is it suited to?
Most people who have set up their own shop well tell you about the strain on your time. As with setting up any business you will have to dedicate a big portion of your days, night and weekends to getting your research and planning done, so you need to be someone who can manage time effectively. But ploughing yourself into the business for 24 hours a day might not be the best way to go about things.
Julie Goodwin has been running her Natural Health store in Hertford for a decade and has recently opened a second shop. “When I first took on the shop I was working everyday, but I quickly realised I needed a day off. I took the decision to close on Sunday even though I’d take in less money. I keep Sundays for home now and completely cut myself off from the shop that day.”
Dawn Burden and her mother set up My Small World, a specialist toyshop in Bath. She agrees that although you have to be prepared to work hard, you also have to set aside some time to relax.
“People say you have to work 24/7 but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way of going about it,” says Burden. “You have to be organised and give yourself time with your family otherwise what’s the point.”
One thing that both Burden and Goodwin are positive you need to run your own shop is passion. “You’ve got to be passionate about things and believe in the products you’re selling, otherwise it shows,” says Goodwin. “It’s much more than just a job – you have to live and breathe it.”
Burden agrees that unless you’re really enthusiastic about what you’re selling, you will find it too hard to convince others to buy from you.
Teresa Andrew runs the successful butchers Andrews of Bourne. She says it’s crucial that you can deal with the public. “We offer a personal service – unlike the supermarket. You do get a lot of people that come in for a chat or some advice – and it’s not always about the meat!”
Andrew is also keen to point out the importance of co-ordinating your time and skills. “When you first start it’s very much like learning to drive. There are so many things to remember and you wonder how on earth you’re actually going to manage to work them all out.
“But all of a sudden it all sort of clicks into place.”