I am pleased to report that recently I have been accepted on to the Innovating for Growth programme at the prestigious BIPC in the British Library, London.
Winning a place on I4G means a lot to my small business as despite the knowledge and experience I have gathered running my own business so far, trying to scale that business is an enormous task. It's challenging and exciting but it's also scary.
Small business entrepreneurs are rarely scared of the unknown, that's pretty much every day existence for us! What I think we are worry about is not knowing what we don't know. It's an impossible position.
Small business owners are almost always willing to try. I want to take the steps to scale my business. I'll no doubt make some mistakes along the way and I will learn from them but what would be great is someone to talk to, an expert, someone with professional experience, someone whose been where I am going!
It's a journey running your own business and of all the decisions you have to make along the route it would be personal to have your own personal Yoda to talk to at each fork along the way.
I'm sure of my ideas, I've extensively researched, I know my customers and I've succeeded so far in building a trusted and reputed brand. I've come this far and I've got a map of where I'm going but I began to feel pretty daunted filling in the application form for the Innovating for Growth.
One of the questions was "What Challenges do you face?"
Those of you who follow Revival Retro will know I started by business in a bid to solve a problem, I have no fashion industry experience or training in garment design and production.
Well, my answer included the following:
- Finding factory contacts. Understanding factory working practices to be taken credibly and negotiate successfully.
- Assessing the value, not just the cost, of producing locally.
- Sourcing all materials.
- Knowing the skill sets required and hiring the right talent, to turn an idea into a reality.
- Learning and keeping to forward ordering deadlines for every step of the production process.
- Abillity to make desired products at an attractive price point on small volumes
- Choosing the right funding routes and resource management
- Name. Brand Identity and Positioning.
- Monitoring success of marketing plan. Knowledge how to improve it and when.
- Understanding and implementing wholesale product costing models from the beginning
- Devise a wholesale plan that responds to the changes affecting our industry.
- Staying on schedule according to the business plan timeline particularly if target % sell through has not been achieved.
- In the event that we have to move or close the shop by our March 2019 break clause devise a pro-active plan that will manage the impact on our sales, staff, B2C and B2B practices.
- Keep existing Revival Retro team engaged in sales but offer skills training that will be relevant to potential role development.
That's an enormous list!!!!! Writing it almost made me weep at the sheer scale of what i'm trying to give up (and I had to limit my answer to 200 words! I could have gone on... and on!
I didn't want to give up though. I knew I was on the right path and now, having articulated what I needed to address I was even more sure that the help the British Library BIPC would give me to develop a growth strategy is what I needed. Experts would help me refine my business model and marketing strategy. I knew BIPC was the place to answer my IP questions and they have fantastic resources for business and market intelligence and you don't have to pay for it.
Since I first had my business idea, before i went full time with it, before I got the bricks and mortar shop, before I launched a website I have been attending workshops at BIPC. I know the quality of learning and I trust them.
I'll have to let you know how it goes but right now as a UK small business trying to scale up I am just glad to have won a place on the I4G programme.