Welcome to Saturday Business chat, and we are all about pets today, talking to Gillian Linnell of the Oldham-based company, GGL Pet Supplies, another new business which opened its doors in 2011 and is not yet a year old. Gillian took a route into business ownership that we’ve not seen before in these interviews, going on an entrepreneurship college course – it just shows the variety of routes we take into our lives as business owners. Like me, to an extent, Gillian has not ended up doing quite what she imagined; having started out in pet gift baskets, she now finds most of her business coming from a different, but related area. It’s so important to be flexible like this, and to both see and take up alternative opportunities as they present themselves, rather than sticking to a fixed idea of what you do. I’m sure flexibility is one of the most important promoters of success – look at Richard Branson, starting a record label and ending up with an airline!
Gillian sensibly took on a part time job while launching her business, making sure she could support herself and keep things going while she established GGL Pet Supplies – hard work, but worth it, I think, for the peace of mind.
So, let’s meet Gillian!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called GGL Pet Supplies, and I set it up in May 2011.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
Mom has advanced Parkinson’s Disease and working full time was taking its toll on me, advancement within the corporate company I was working at was not looking possible and I knew I was capable of much better things.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I have always wanted to work with animals and decided to enrol at college on an entrepreneur course simply making and selling pet gift hampers. I soon realised that this idea was not going to pay the bills so it quickly changed to a full blown pet store, also offering pet sitting and dog walking services.
Had you run your own business before?
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I took a part time job in a bar to help pay the bills whilst the company started to make money.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Don’t spend money on marketing companies which offer Google front page search results when you can do it yourself!
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Be confident, trust and believe in yourself, you are unique, and don’t believe everything cold callers say on the phone!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Not spent a heapload of money on advertising in the wrong places!
What are you glad you did?
Started the pet sitting/dog walking services as this was purely an afterthought, yet it is what is currently booming.
What’s your top business tip?
Stay focused, be persistent, believe. Do not ever give up, but be willing to adapt and change when opportunities arise.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
The pet supplies is still an ongoing project that I am not really having much luck with, but the pet sitting and dog walking side is booming: I even do horses now. I am pushing the supplies side of things persistently: as I am still in the first year of business, I remain optimistic.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I would like to be selling the supplies to local people and pet sitting clients and to have a brand and reputation which is very well known and recognised in the local community. Eventually I would like to employ staff and have a warehouse full of pickers and packers. This is just one ambition – I have a handful of different directions which the company can take.
Reading between the lines here, it looks like Gillian has learned from any early mistakes she made with advertising and marketing – which are always tricky, and there are an awful lot of very persuasive people out there selling such services. She is to be applauded for her positive attitude and perseverance, and I really look forward to hearing about the new directions the business takes in the next year!
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