By 2010 I was losing sleep because my business wasn't firing. Sales were going south and I had no idea how to turn things around. I knew I had to spend money and I was willing to beg, borrow and steal to do it, although it was around this time that I learned that there was a red mark against my name at the ANZ bank. It wasn't because of my credit rating or anything but because I was in the 'adult' industry. Surprisingly, this was the first time I ever had experienced any kind of discrimination because of what I did for a living. So no bank loan.
Even if I had money, I had no idea how best to spend it and spent a couple of years mulling things over. I eventually thought that maybe if I opened another store and began an expansion I might be able to save my business. After writing a new business plan and getting some financial advice I FINALLY found the perfect place. YAY!
But now I experienced discrimination for the second time with my city location's body corporate disallowing me to rent the site. NO SEX STORES IN THIS LOCATION was what was written into their list of conditions. No amount of persuading could turn them around so that dream was gone too.
What to do? I began to feel that opening another store might not solve my problems after all, just add to them. I needed to reinvent the brand. But how? Who could help me? Who knows enough about this business to offer constructive advice? Anybody? I wasted a lot money on 'business gurus' who promised to change things but none of it felt right. Who knows how to turn a business like mine around?
Then one day in 2013 I got a call from an ex-store owner in Sydney who wondered if I might like to hire her as a consultant. Heidi Zuegn came into my life and I knew right away that this person could do for me what no one else could.
Together we re-imagined not only the look of the store, but the direction and the ethos. With Heidi's amazing design flair and her intimate knowledge of products, she cleverly steered the store in a direction focused on the highest quality, education and shopping as an experience.
I wish I could advise others on how to find a mentor or what constructive steps to take to grow their business, but in my case, it was mostly luck. I had been sending out feelers for a long while but nothing with any real intent. Finally it took one of my reps to send Heidi in my direction and then it all fell into place.
That was in 2013 and with a new focus, the business has been growing steadily. I can sleep a lot better now but it still ain't easy! There's always more to do, more competition and an enticing global market vying for attention. And there's always the difficulty of knowing how to spend money (when you haven't got much) to make money. I'm still not the big successful business woman I've always imagined myself to be but after 20 years, maybe I'll still get there.
Stay tuned for the next installment "So I've re-invented. Now what?"
Read the previous installments here.
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