Real Scaleup: Not Just A Print

Scaleup (Scaleup North East)

Created by Scaleup (Scaleup North East), 4 months ago, [last edited 3 months ago]

5 MINUTE READ


Stacey Rogers, founder of Not Just A Print – personalised online giftware boutique, gives invaluable real-life business advice in this 5 – minute read, as she unveils the story behind founding her own. From coming up with the idea - through the scary challenges of the business world – to strengthening business position with Scaleup North East, she opens up about it all.

Q1: Tell us about your business background and journey so far.

The short story is I was pregnant and needed to make some cash. One morning I woke up with a picture in my head of a design which looks like a vinyl record.

I created it, went to IKEA, spent £3.50 (which at the time felt like money wasted) on a frame and then thought about how to sell it.

Within two days of posting on eBay it was sold. Within two weeks I was selling almost daily.

And it just kept growing…

We eventually moved the business out of the house and found a small 4x5m office which we just about squeezed into but managed to get through another Christmas, peaking at 210 orders in a day, with our team of 7 elves.

We’d seen over 100% growth for three years in a row. So that’s when I started looking for a more permanent place to work and really took the decision to scale, it was scale or cut back to a single channel really.

 

Q2: What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome on your way to establishing a successful business in the North East?

We do aspire to run a traditional print business alongside our personalised online gifts store and I think at that point we’ll hit bigger problems as people in the North East can seem to be stuck to their suppliers and it’s hard as a newbie to come along into an established space here.

It was difficult securing premises. It was either go mega swanky astronomically priced business park or mega swanky astronomically priced teeny studios or everything was just huge in some of the older business parks where business have outgrown sites and gone for their own builds and they’re now quite empty.

There’s not a lot for the growing businesses. In the end we’ve gone with out of town anyway as I literally loathe traffic with a passion and would never wish the rush hour on anyone who works for me.

 

Q3: What caught your attention about the Scaleup programme?

The opportunity just to talk to someone. Especially when it’s all very new and first time around. To feel like there was someone on the end of a phone or email who would listen with knowledge and to feel some level of accountability to someone outside of my team, cause that’s a different feeling.

I was keen to meet other people in the same situation maybe as me and frankly nosey to see what other people might be working on in their spare rooms in and around Newcastle!

 

Q4: How did the programme help you to overcome challenges and strengthen business position?

It’s really helped me to look at the main three streams of my business (product, marketing, fulfilment) separately and try to concentrate on one at a time.

It’s also made me appreciate how much of the business I’m taking on which is limiting the business. Even down to the ideas side of things…there’s only so many ideas I can come up with and with two kids and bills, bin providers and business strategies to sort out.

I’ve taken part in the brand building workshop which was fascinating and have started to put some of that back into practice back at work with plans to do more on that side of the business.

We’ve worked with Designing Better Business as well as part of Scaleup to work on both understanding our customer and developing our product lines. Both exercises have been amazing for getting some consistency across the way we do things and keep us more structured which is something you need the more people are involved.

 

Q5: What advice would you give to others in the North East that are looking to scaleup their own business?

Give it time. It’s not going to happen overnight.

Try to fast forward in your head that year ahead, or to that busy period and figure out what you’re doing then compared to what you’re doing now and plan for it before it comes.

Keep an eye on your cashflow and get support if possible. We’ve never had so much capital expenditure as we do now and it’s a huge cash drain but it’s extremely short term and I have to be confident we’ll get it back in time if we give it a chance. Some things you’ll reap the rewards of straight away, but others are a much longer game changer and it’s about balance.

 

Q6: What's been the best business advice our partners have ever given you?

I think it’s probably to get out of the day-to-day which is also the hardest thing to do.

Also, to look at my business in three parts: fulfilment, marketing, product. And I do treat these independently in my head now which feels slightly less of a burden.

They’ve made me ambitious too and I’ve probably made decisions I never would have felt ‘brave’ enough to like taking more people into the team which feels like an expense but it’s more of an investment really.

It’s also helped just reflecting with them on the journey now and again and having a sense of pride in what we’ve achieved so far…which is a hell of a long way away from a £3.50 frame.

 


Scaleup (Scaleup North East)

Created by Scaleup (Scaleup North East), 4 months ago, [last edited 3 months ago]