I cut myself a bit of slack in my first year of business. After all, I had just left a secure career to establish a shoe shop from scratch in five months with no experience in retail or in the shoe industry.
So I figured that in my first year of operations I would simply try my best, follow my heart and instinct, make a few things up (yep, seriously!), probably make a few mistakes, and keep asking lots of questions. Thankfully, that worked but now it’s definitely time to remove the wide-eyed glasses and improve my focus and get serious!
With the end of my first full financial year approaching this Sunday, I’m super excited about the future.
I will be learning all about MYOB next month so my self-created spreadsheets where I’ve recorded all my financial data these past 12 months will soon be a thing of the past.
I’m seeing my business mentor and learning more each session about practical ways to improve my business and systematically source, record and analyse my financial data in order to move forward and grow.
I’ve always been a big one for targets … just ask my wonderful former staff who probably still have nightmares about the whiteboard where we would list all our respective targets (number of media stories, number of students our school program would educate etc) and start each financial year with a zero before those numbers would start to climb. It was scary at first, sure, but it was so fantastic to see the numbers grow and often exceed the targets.
Now I finally have benchmarks for The Shoe Garden and can compare year to year how I’m tracking. I have been fortunate to see significant growth in May and June this year compared to 2012, which is heartening and makes me very proud.
This step up is very important for a number of reasons. First, this is my career now and I can’t ever imagine going back to my old life. So I want to master all aspects of running a small business and that means not just the fun stuff like chatting to customers and writing media releases and buying stock … it includes sucking it up and figuring out my financials!
I also want and need to be transparent and accountable. That’s super important for the day The Shoe Garden becomes a not-just-for-profit and I invest profits and donations towards assisting and empowering women in Africa. I have worked for a number of charities and support many, all of whom I trust. Trust must be earned and never taken forgranted. I am proud to conduct all aspects of my business, be that with my customers or suppliers, with honesty, integrity and values.
Another huge learning curve for me these past 12 months, and something that I believe I will improve on in the next year and beyond, is buying stock. Next month I start buying all my stock for Winter 2014 and now I actually have a full winter season behind me and I have learned so much. Each day I watch what shoes and boots customers are drawn to and listen to what they are searching for. I can’t wait to put this knowledge to good use as I select next season’s range.
All in all, I’m incredibly excited about the next 12 months and to see how far I can progress and grow The Shoe Garden. Thank you so much for being a part of the journey.