‘I have no idea what I’m doing’!

Open up a men’s clothing shop, I can do that. I’m a man, I like clothes, I’ve worked in a shop before. Easy. 

This weeks blog is to give some insight into how Winstons came about and to help people start their own business. 

Since I was about 15 and I first went into Fortnum & Mason department store in London I have loved the big retail institutes. Harrods, Liberty and even John Lewis just seem a special, friendly place. I’m reminded of that scene in ‘Big’ when Tom Hanks dances on the keyboard in the children’s toy store or in ‘Love Actually’ with Rowan Atkinson gift wrapping the present for Alan Rickman. The idea you could create a business that can make people happy and excited and at the same time you can make a living. That sounds pretty good to me. So there it is. The seed is planted. I want a shop of my own. So as I stated before I’ve worked in retail for about 6 years. I’m a man and I like clothes, let’s crack on. However there is a massive caveat to this, I’m a man who can easily have a 45 minute argument with a printer, didnt know what a hashtag was and don’t even get me started on understanding coding. Do I really need a website anyway? Well yes actually I do. I learned early on that passion, drive and enthusiasm will take you only so far, you need help. I need help. I am not an expert. 

I am very lucky to know some very talented people who I can lean on. Owen and his team at ‘United by Design’ have been amazing and designed and built my website and created our logos. Mattie, who is also my sister-in-law, is very experienced shop owner who has been invaluable with her advice. A very good old friend Sally who is an accountant has helped me massively with circumnavigating the complexities of VAT etc. Those people have been outstanding and so helpful for me. The progress that Winstons has made over the past two years is down to help from these people and many others, including family and close friends. 

The point I am trying to convey here is if someone can do something better than you then get them to do it. Don’t ‘fudge’ it. In the long run it will pay off. Instead look at saving money elsewhere. With the help of my family, I painted the shop (saved over £1200), my dad works most Sundays, I just pay him in coffee and pastries. I do all the social media work myself and I have recently found two very talented guys who are starting a photography businesses to help with the imagery for the website. When we are busy over Christmas I will work 6 days a week, sometimes 7. I am constantly looking at internet providers, card payment and business insurance providers. By changing all these three alone we have recently saved £100+ a month. By doing all this it has meant we can stay open and keep moving forward. We haven’t spent thousands on advertising instead we use social media, direct flyering, word-of-mouth and shop parties (we are very overdue one of these). Can we afford a £500 advert for one day in a newspaper or a £1500 advert in a visitor guide, yes. Is it worth it, no. Instead we use this money to buy stock. Doesn’t matter how well you advertise, if you don’t have the stock to sell then what’s the point? 

In a nutshell, back yourself. Do what you can do yourself and do it well. If you can’t do it then find someone who can. Make your business stand out, make it unique. Listen and take advice from people but at the end of the day it’s your business. You are the one working there 50+ hours a week so you probably have the best idea of what will and won’t work. 

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