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It Takes A Village to Raise A Business


It Takes A Village to Raise A Business

There is an African proverb that many of us are familiar with that says it takes a village to raise a child. But, the same I have discovered, could be said about starting a business.

It can feel very lonely starting a new venture, and particularly one that is so public like starting a shop. There is, as with anything, a certain amount of risk, particularly financial, and as a single parent I am not in a position to be able to afford to make mistakes – like a lot of us now, I know.

There is also our old friend, the ego, which can get so easily bruised when we fail or indeed fall. But I have learnt in life that it is not the falls that matter so much, as the way you pick yourself up off the floor. That is how you build resilience.

There is so much that can go wrong, there is every reason not to give it a try, to keep the status quo and yet… there is so much that can go right, I tell myself.In the last few weeks, I have felt so supported by my friends and family. My brother-in-law Sam, for example, has built me a beautiful website which I will be revealing soon. He knows, without me having to explain, that I will feel overwhelmed by various buttons at the back end of it (I am not good with technology) and so he simplified the dashboard so that it would feel user-friendly, and made a duplicate so that if (when) I broke it he would be able to put it back together again. My friend, Rob, has been championing me from the moment this idea was but a tiny seed in my mind, and he has helped me water it and give it sunshine each and every day since. His unwavering belief in me and what I am trying to achieve has given me the confidence to go for this, to try to make a dream a reality. And, this week, he offered to buy me 250 tote bags printed with The Book Room’s logo, to give away to my customers.

Talking of logos, my friend Sam (check out her etsy shop) came up with this beautiful but simple design which we felt had a whiff of Chanel about it. Sam and I worked together on magazines more than a decade ago and it has been so wonderful to be able to call on her. She has always had such a brilliant, contemporary eye and I feel so lucky that she was so happy and willing to help me. So many other friends have given me encouragement along the way: my friend Lee who lent me her ear that first day when I called and said: ‘Tell me, does this idea sound crazy.’ Her daughter, Becca, who put together a list of her favourite books. My friend Damian who read through my business plan.

One of the unique selling points about my bookstore will be the Writers Recommend displays where my author friends will share their favourite books from their own genres, and I have been met with so much enthusiasm from everyone I have asked for help. You will be hearing from more of them in the coming weeks, but my thanks so far to Debora, Ian, Karen, Laura, Sarah, Jenny, Donna and Alexander for being so open to my ideas.

Local businesses and the friends who run them have been a listening ear, Matt at Fine Grind who was behind my idea from the off, another Matt, this time at Evenflow (a local coffee/record shop) who promised to share my pop-up with his customers. And what I’ve discovered most of all is how friendly and supportive other independent bookstores are: Gillian from Little Ripon Bookshop gave me an hour on the phone to pick her brains, Charlie at The Hastings Bookshop let me wander round his place while he shared his tips of what works and what doesn’t, Patrick from Jaffé and Neale who promised each of us who attended his course that we could call on him any time, and he has kept that promise.

Then, of course, my other dear friends who always lend a listening ear and endless enthusiasm.

And that’s just for starters, I haven’t even opened yet!

But what I wanted to show you is just what it takes to get this show on the road in terms of support and encouragement, time that people have volunteered to chat to me or create something for me, or money they have spent to help me (thanks again, Rob).

If you want to create something large and small, what you need more than anything are those who will support you. You might find them amongst your friends, your family, your community. So reach out, who knows what you might achieve.

It really does take a village to raise a business, now I just need a village to shop in one!

More on my progress soon!


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