On the 3rd of July, we sold our first sporran!
I was a student, so business was very much a part-time affair. I started selling sporrans because I saw the demand, and knew a supplier, not because I wanted to start a business. I downloaded all my sales data so kept good accounts (very important), but was much more casual on other aspects.
Everything was run from my bedroom. I would come back from university and check my emails, print out the orders and wrap them up to be taken to the post office. The only material I had lying around to wrap parcels was pink, flowery paper, so the packages looked like little pink presents for the first few months.
I wanted to keep the money separate from my personal bank account, so I used a Cadbury tin that I owned as the current account! I used the profit from my first sale to fund my next stock purchase, and the profit from those sales for the next, larger order and so on. The whole business started with a very small personal investment (1 sporran) and grew organically from there. To this day, we’ve never borrowed any money to fuel growth – it’s all come from our own hard work.
In the beginning, I was sticking with accessories as there were no sizes involved. I had sporran chain straps and belts that could fit a 30″ waist right up to a 48″. That meant I could buy 5 of the same product at once, rather than 5 different sizes of one product, and only have 1 of each size.
However, as we were very small, we carried very little stock and I was very dependent on my supplier. Unfortunately my supplier was not reliable, and a few months after starting trading, I couldn’t buy any more stock. This taught me an extremely valuable lesson, very early in my career. The customer is the most important thing. If they are going to trust us with their money, we need to deliver the product. A weak link anywhere in the supply chain will make the customer lose trust in us, not the supplier.
Before selling any more products, I needed to find a new supplier. At the turn of 2005, I did just that.