Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why I'm Grateful we Started Our Retail Store the Broke No-Money Way

We started our retail store without a bunch of money in the bank, and I'm so grateful we did. Hell, the first half-year in I wish we'd have spent even less!


In The Seven Laws of Money, Michael Phillips writes about his experience giving grants. He noted churches, nonprofits, businesses and organizations that received them more often that not, failed. He learned from it and didn't give grants to beginners anymore. Instead he gave them advice: grow your audience first. You need a following, your buyers, your people, to grow.

Your loyal followers will keep you in business, not start-up money. You have to go out there and find them. My copy of the book was from 1974 but the same principles apply. Now we have social media to help us find thousands of followers easier than ever before.

98% of our store's retail displays were free or from my apartment. It's FAR from my intended vision for the store but It still earns us hundreds and let's us grow so we can replace everything with our dream retail displays down the road.

Furthermore, especially as a beginner, if you have the money, you're more likely to spend it on non-essentials. And probably on things you don't absolutely need. But when you're a lean small business without that capital you're going to learn to spend on only what you need. You'll retain those lessons, remaining a smart business spender even when your business has more capital to play with.

About five years ago I got a check in the mail for $15,000 to start a vintage retail store with a couple of friends. The check bounced when my investor ran into trouble with the IRS. I'm confident we'd have squandered those thousands on non-essentials as overwhelmed 20-something creatives with ample talent but insufficient business smarts, just liked Phillips describes in his book. I'm grateful for our slow, low-cost start-up, it's already paying off beautifully and giving us room to keep growing!

Being broke doesn't have to be a curse. Sometimes it's your biggest advantage as a new business owner.
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14 comments:

  1. U r so good at organizing and I've loved watching your biz grow thru the years! Would u considering trading vacation time in Asheville for organizing work lolololol???? Barter/collab/trade-off lolololol!!!!!

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    1. Haha, it's been a lifelong endeavor I'm now an expert from working to straighten out my own craziness. :D I can't wait to have time to help others do it.

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  2. Vanessa, it's so wonderful to read about your journey. You should be really proud of everything you've accomplished, and you're always willing to share the lessons you've learned along the way:) You're such an inspiration. And thanks for the heads up about the book.

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    1. It's such a good book Emmy, so many awesome lessons on money I haven't read before. I put the book down to state into space dumbfounded when I read "We live in money like a fish lives in water." :O it's truuuue

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  3. So smart! It definitely makes sense. Now you have a good idea of what works in your brick and mortar shop so that will be where to put money into in the future.

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    1. Some of the concepts in the book blew my mind, reading AND experiencing being broke as an asset was an important lesson this year!

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  4. You've accomplished so much, Vanessa! Wishing you much success as you continue your creative journey! I started my business investing my own savings from the 17 years I worked in corporate. Never considered going to the bank ;-)

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    1. That's the way to do it, Duni! :D I wish you continued success with your business, too.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this V! You've come so far :)

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    1. Aw, thanks. Still a million more things to do forever, aaah!

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  6. I agree, and also think not starting off with lots of money can make you more creative and think outside of the box. Your shop looks amazing, and I wish you lots of happy customers!

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    1. Thanks, I have maaany plans to improve it. On a budget of course ;)

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