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How sharing the ups and downs of being a start up can be a recipe for success

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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Many entrepreneurs will have overcome a certain amount of adversity to get their business up and running. Whether this be struggling with initial funding, sourcing a manufacturer or getting the right people to work with, it’s never plain sailing.

However, many of these challenges go unspoken about and happen in a silo, away from the public eye. But what can we learn from sharing our ups and downs with others? Tim Hayden, founder of Hagley West Watches is doing just this, and it’s been the making of his business. Here, he outlines how overcoming adversity can be beneficial to your business, especially when you make transparency one of your USPs. 

New businesses founders are no strangers to challenges and failures. Indeed, the government’s business population estimates 2021 show that the total business population decreased by 390,000 (6.5%) between 2020 and 2021, 23% higher than the number of business failures in the previous year. And, insurance company Euler Hermes has predicted UK insolvencies will be at least 20% higher in 2022 than in 2021. It’s a sad fact that so many entrepreneurs that decide to take the plunge and make a go of their business idea will end up having to walk away.

But, while some challenges are harder to overcome than others, many can be the making of a small business. A key part of the success of Hagley West to date is our determination to not be afraid to get things wrong along the way. And we think others should harness this mentality. Our strapline is ‘love your journey’ and that applies to us as a business as much as it does anyone else.

What has been key for us is sharing our ups and downs with others. Previously, I worked in IT and had no experience with selling watches but when the idea for Hagley West came to me, I decided to sell my home, move into rented accommodation and start afresh. As well as having no experience within the watch industry, I was also relatively new to using social media, especially when it came to using it as a business tool. This aside, I decided that harnessing the power of social media was to be key to the business moving forward. I set about studying how others had successfully leveraged social media channels and harnessed these techniques. This has enabled me to grow Hagley West in record time. In fact, since making our first watch sale in 2018 we’ve managed to double turnover every year, then last year saw record results with nearly half a million pounds achieved. That figure is set to double to more than one million pounds in this financial year.

We now have one million followers on TikTok and we’ve done this by being completely transparent with business ups and downs. Just this weekend we hosted an attempt to break our own record for the number of watch sales in a single day and invited people to join us to see if we succeed or fail. We share turnover figures, sales figures, and lessons learned and we invite anyone that is interested to be part of the brand.

We do this by hand delivering watches and carrying out ‘Find Tim’ challenges. The videos of these can generate up to three million views and have already helped us break into the lucrative US market, with more than 796 US sales within the first 60 days of approaching the sector. The key to all of this is that we invite customers to be part of the journey, whether what we’re showing is good or bad and people seem to find this inspirational and have a drive to be part of it. Proof of this is the fact that our own record attempt this weekend saw us turnover more in just one hour and fifty minutes than we did in the first four years of trading.

Not only do we find that sharing our story has helped others, but sharing the stories of other inspirational people has also aided success. One of the things that I was most proud about was our inspirational women range, we got so much support for that initiative. I think people like humanised, real content. We’re constantly looking at other ways we can work with inspiring people and share their stories.

Times are understandably difficult for a lot of people at the moment and if I can be a source of inspiration for other small businesses on their own journey, I take a lot of personal pride in that. If I can potentially offer any guidance to other fledgling entrepreneurs that would be really rewarding. As with everything we do, and as with every entrepreneur, we’re on our own journey and that will inevitably have more challenges, as well more reasons to celebrate. What is for certain is we’ll share all of this with our customers and invite them to be part of it all. We’d urge other brands to do the same.