Make a Plan: A fantastic resource to get a business back on track

Make a Plan: A fantastic resource to get a business back on track

Posted: Wed 17th Jan 2024

We've partnered with Mastercard and Strive to give 650,000 British micro and small enterprises the support they need to thrive in the digital economy over the next three years and beyond.

One way we're doing this is through our online Make a Plan tool. Simply create an account, answer some quick questions about your business, then receive personalised feedback. You then use those recommendations to build an action plan designed to speed up your growth.

We're catching up with business owners who have benefited from using the tool and creating their own action plans. Here, we hear from Kate Tompsett, founder of Canterbury gifts and homewares business Happy & Glorious.

Kate, please tell us how your business got started.

I'd been working in independent retail from the age of 17, throughout my A Levels and my degree. When people asked me what career I wanted, I just thought, 'this!'.

Retail ticks so many boxes for me. Every day is different, I get to be surrounded by lovely things, to be creative, and talk to people all day. In 2012 I decided that one day I'd have a shop called Happy & Glorious, selling British-made products.

Being a tiny bit impetuous, by the following day I'd bought the domain name, sorted the logo, set up the social media and booked tickets to a trade show. I don't like to waste time!

Did you know where to go for support?

I'd spotted a retail course designed by Mary Portas that I was very interested in, but the timings didn't quite work for me. I'd learnt quite a lot from my years in indie retail, and I felt that I had enough information to get started.

Eleven years later I'm much wiser and know that there's always more I can learn. I have a business coach and attend webinars, listen to podcasts and read business books, plus use great intel from Enterprise Nation, Small Business Britain and other fantastic resources.

What help did you seek when setting up your new business?

I originally set up online as a side hustle, so the support I needed at this stage was mostly emotional! I added gift fairs and pop-up shops to my revenue streams in 2014, and it was exhibiting with PopUp Britain in the Portas Pilot town of Ashford in Kent that showed me there was a wealth of information for start-ups and retailers if only I knew where to look.

It was from there that I was invited to take on a tiny high-street shop for a year. I was able to leave my employment and go full time with the business.

Ashford Borough Council had purchased a shopping centre and were working towards filling it with independent businesses. They offered a mentor and free training, which was an invaluable part of my journey.

In the early weeks and months, what went well? What didn't? How did you overcome any problems?

The early weeks and months were exciting, fascinating and scary! The media talked incessantly about the internet as a spectacular selling place, and I think when I launched I expected to be immediately successful.

I waited weeks for the first online order that didn't come from a beloved family member, and I still remember the excitement of that moment very well. Keeping stock was an issue, learning about distance selling regulations, terms and conditions, communicating well with customers when you can't see them face to face.

And good old cash flow was a tricky one too. Frustrating as it was, growing a side hustle with the security of a regular income was the right way to go about things, as it let me evolve and learn as I went without taking huge risks.

You used the Make a Plan tool. What specifically has it helped with?

I moved shop last year from a small town to a big city, and it's been the most enormous learning curve. Last year was one of discovery: learning what the customers want, finding out the busy months in a tourist hotspot (I'm metres away from Canterbury Cathedral) and just generally finding my feet.

Takings are up by 65% on last year, footfall is up by 500% compared to my previous shop, and as a result there hasn't been a lot of time for learning.

But the Make a Plan tool is a fantastic resource to get me back on track for 2024, working out what I want to achieve, highlighting any weak points in the business structure, and spotting the areas most likely to provide further growth. I'm just getting started with it but it's been brilliant so far.

What do you see as the next steps for your business?

I want to grow my overseas revenue stream. Many of my summer customers are overseas tourists and I want them to be able to buy confidently from me when they return home.

I also want to improve my social media and email marketing, as I know that these can be relatively quick wins. I was recently interviewed on Radio 4 about our range of gift advent calendars, and sales of these went through the roof. So I'm keen to take a look at the best way to move forward with my PR.

What are your more longer-term plans?

Designing more of my own products for the business, and generally making Happy & Glorious the best business of its kind.

At the moment, I'm happy with one branch. Every day I get to do what I love and fulfil the dream that I've had since my teenage years, but perhaps down the line I can envisage taking on a second space where I could run our incredibly popular creative workshops.

I think the growth over the last year has been so huge that, at the moment, I'm looking to find out what 'normal' is, before I let my ambition off the leash again!

Finally, what are the most important lessons you've learned from going into business for yourself?

  • Never think you know it all, because 28 years of retail have shown me that you never stop learning.

  • Get a business coach who will let you ramble on for hours about your business in a non-judgemental way.

  • Find yourself a planning system that works for you and use it every day.

  • Portion up money in different savings accounts for the big bills.

  • Find a team that you get along with and that have good humour and good cheer. And make sure you use their skills, to boost their confidence and your business.


Make a Plan: Start and grow your business with a free personalised plan

Start and grow your business with a free personalised plan

How? Create an account, answer a few questions, get feedback, then build an action plan to speed up your business's growth. Simple! Take the Make a Plan tool now

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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