We started small, and we’re not huge yet…. but we still remember what it was like to be small. Cashflow’s always tight, you’re using sales of one item to pay for another, there’s worries over accounts, tax and regulations, and on and on….
We’re not past that stage completely, but after more than 10 years trading we’re better organised and we all manage somehow to get paid at the end of the month. Along the way, we’ve realised that there are many ways to run a business. In no particular order, here are some of the rules we try to adhere to:
- Flexibility. We like to think we’ve an excellent working relationship with most of our customers. Many have become friends over the years. If there’s a concern, or a question, we’re always happy to see how we can help.
- Service. Many of our retailers can’t afford to forward order, or keep large stocks. We’re happy to offer low minimum orders, not require case sizes, and we try (though not always succeed) to keep items in stock at all times.
- Respect. Our customers and suppliers are all important and we treat them all with equal consideration and respect.
- Quality. The goods we offer are of a quality that we’d like to purchase ourselves. If something doesn’t meet our standards, we won’t sell it, even if it’s highly profitable.
As a company, finding and keeping the right people is critical. Most of us have worked for corporations or larger businesses at some time, and on the whole it’s not been a good experience. We’re a niche business and finding people who fit in is more important in some ways than their skill factor, which can be learnt. Everyone who works here has the benefit of flexi time, and we offer private healthcare to all staff. There’s a company loan system to help with large purchases such as cars. Regular breaks are encouraged and we eat communally, sharing jokes, ideas and comments. There’s usually at least one dog on the premises, often a puppy.
When we reached a point of stability financially, we decided we should give something back to our society. We donate monthly to the Trussell Trust who provide a national network of food banks for those at the lower end of the poverty scale. We’ve recently set up a regular donation to Starlight who grant wishes for sick and terminally ill children.
We’ve a strong connection with the arts- after all, we’re all about imagination. We’ve helped several small projects via Kickstarter or other similar services. Two Parts Mischief secured funding in mid 2015, and at the end of the year we helped Butterfly Psyche Theatre Company raise the funds they needed to put on a production called The Snow Child which is intended to be an inclusive, immersive theatre event for all ages and abilities.
2016 sees a restructuring of the business to allow us to develop a wider range of products, and add better support for those we already sell. We understand that we’re in a competitive marketplace, and while product is important, service and support are also vital. To this end we’re developing new point of sale, brochures, signage and other promotional material for our retailers to use, free of charge. There will be new faces and voices here, allowing us to develop as we want, and creating more mayhem at lunchtime. Watch this space…