Why did you start up a business and how did you go starting it up?
I was inspired by my mentor and boss at the time who was (and still is) so driven and passionate about what she does and what she believes in. I wanted to create an environment where I could do the same - inspire a team and inspire my patients. I went through a 6-9 month program (called ‘Pathway’ which is run by Specsavers) to develop myself and to learn about the people and business aspect of being a business partner and employer. I had a lot of support from my mentors who helped me assess what opportunities were suitable for me from both a lifestyle and finance perspective. I had my accountant assist me in valuing potential business’ to ensure I also had professional advice.
Should I take over a business or start brand new?
There are pros and cons to both. The main advantage of taking over a business is that it has an established database and customer awareness of the store and its services and values.
Starting a brand new store allows you to create your own “brand” and culture, and enables you to build your own team from the bottom up. It will depend on your personal preference, however you should assess the potential you see in the business, and how able and quickly you believe you can grow it. A lot of research and due diligence is required for both avenues.
What are some key points I should consider when going from employee to employer?
Do a lot of research (e.g. reading, courses, talking to other employers and colleagues) to understand thoroughly both the finance and business side of it, as well as the leadership side to being an employer.
Be clear on your “Why” before you dive into “what” needs to be done and “how” you will make it happen.
How did your business survive COVID?
We remained open the whole time (for urgent care) in order to service our community. Our customers were very grateful for this service and it also allowed us to gain new customers. Many of our customers had to hold off their “routine eye examination” for several months, hence when the lock down eased, we knew we would get an influx of customers returning. In order to both survive and thrive, we needed to be strategic with extending our trading hours to ensure we were able to capture all existing and new customers by looking after their eye care needs in a covid-safe manner.
How is your work life balance as a business owner?
It was a big adjustment when I initially started, as “work” can easily carry on at home and on days off. I’ve since learnt that planning ahead is key. I schedule quality time with my family and friends, and also block out time for myself to do things I enjoy. To keep myself accountable, I also schedule time slots in my calendar to fit in exercise, journaling and meditation. Having my own “me time” allows me to reflect my day/week and reassess when I'm “off balance”. I don’t always get it right and sometimes life can throw new challenges at you, however a balanced lifestyle is one of my goals and is something I’m consciously striving towards.