For anyone out there planning to set up their own business, be prepared that there is more to it than I ever imagined. To be fair, Matt and I have been quite attached to institutions – school, college and MoD for Matt; school university, NHS, university again (sorry mum and dad) Education for me. So, although we knew that we had the motivation and skills for building the business, we didn’t really have a clue!
Luckily, Craig and Helen have been doing this for a long time and, although Helen has also enjoyed her time in Education (and, of course, Craig went to school), they have definitely worked it all out! And the Radford contingent will be forever grateful to the Nixons for showing us the ropes and helping us to skip some of the pain points that we would have experienced if we had gone solo. Although we all have our own ways of doing things and approaching the business, the foundations have definitely been laid in the wealth of experience that Craig and Helen bring.
So, between us, we pretty quickly had a website (thank you Cindy), a Facebook page, a booking and stock-taking system , a logo (you already know all about that), uniforms, a van and, of course, a container full to the brim with bell tents, beds, beddings and who knew what else. This called for action.
In getting ready for our first season, there was lots of work to be done. Not least fielding enquiries, bookings, invoices, deposits – whilst also trying to get seen by Google (who knew that was a thing?), create some sort of marketing (I won’t add ‘strategy’ just yet but I’m sure that will come), encourage traffic to our website (say it with confidence…).
We went on several voyages of discovery to find out what we actually had in that container (which somewhere along the line, we moved into a new container). To this day, we continue to make little discoveries of hidden treasure. We put up ALL the tents (courtesy of Mum and Dad Radford’s garden) to inspect them. We put up SOME tents AGAIN to clean. We washed/dried/ironed/aired all the bedding (courtesy of 3rd Hayling Scout Group and a lot of ropes). We tested out all the air beds (courtesy of Mum and Dad Hawke (Jo) and Penny). We went on a couple of vital trips to IKEA (I mean, who wouldn’t?!). And I indulged my love of Marketplace, charity auctions and joyous independent home stores – all in the name of creating pretty you understand. I’ll be needing another container soon or some reigns!
If it’s all in the preparation, we had done everything that we could think of. Time will tell but we don’t plan on using the F-word any time soon!