Much excitement in Libro Towers – there’s been an influx of NEW interviewees recently, and here’s the first. I do get spaces in the schedule sometimes, as people drop out for lovely reasons like being too busy to sit down and answer the questions (although really you should never be too busy to keep up the marketing, it does happen), inexplicable ones to me like going back into employment, or sad ones like closing the business. So let’s welcome Laura Hecht and her partner Eyal, who run stationery and decorative craft supplies company Lau&Home. Crafters and stationery buffs will want to look at this very pretty website immediately, but do read the interview, too!
Welcome, Laura! Let’s start off with the basics. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
The company is called Lau&Home and the business was set up in 2013.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I got tired of working long hours and spending 50% of my life in an office, knowing that my financial future would hit the “glass ceiling” if I continued being an employee. I wanted to create, invent, lead, be part of the foundation of something. I wanted to be a good, considerate boss to my future employees (better than the ones I had). I decided to take a risk and dedicate 100% of my time to make this business grow. Despite all the comments and criticism from relatives and friends after leaving my “well paid real job”, my husband and I were very determined to make this work.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I really like DIY decoration and love colourful stuff. I think that people can do better designs themselves, using a bit of imagination, than the items that cost hundreds of pounds in the big chains. We decided to start selling products that we liked and would have bought ourselves.
Had you run your own business before?
No. I was feeling too comfortable to leave for a new adventure. Up until the moment I made up my mind to make a change, it was too scary for me. But waking up Mondays and wishing it was Friday made me realise that it was about my life, my time.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
In the very beginning, my husband and I made the decision to start our own business so I quit my job and we lived on one salary only while I was building and learning all about our future company. We started slowly buying items and selling them. After a year approximately, we had a little turn over so my husband left his job too to dedicate his time exclusively to our project. Money was very tight in the beginning but our first Christmas gave us a boost that helped a lot to keep moving. We always remember the first box of tapes that we got from the supplier: we took a picture of it and got afraid and excited at the same time! Today, having 1,000 square foot of storage, that seems like a dream.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Take a break from people who drag you down. They are afraid that you will make their dream come true yourself, so they will try to pass on their fears to you.
Be confident with decisions but don’t push it too far too early. Being profitable and getting into the business can take time, so be patient. Big, bad decisions can take you out of the game too early.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Do it and gradually. If you can, have savings so you won’t be too stressed.
In the beginning, you probably won’t have a lot of money, don’t get unmotivated too soon!
Use your time wisely and don’t get lazy!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
We made some mistakes managing the stock. We got too comfortable with the income and didn’t check carefully the market (competitors, demands, etc.), so we got stuck with a lot of non-moving stock which created a bad cash flow. We would have handled that more carefully.
What are you glad you did?
Took the decision to do it! It’s an incredible journey that hopefully will last for a long time.
What’s your top business tip?
Make a plan. Not too complicated, but it’s good to see the numbers in front of you. If it’s not good, confront it. Find the way to do it better AND don’t ignore the problems. They won’t disappear if you won’t solve them. Now you are the one in charge.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
We’ve had a great three years and grown in a way we didn’t imagine, from a couple of boxes in the living room to our own industrial unit. But it’s not always like this: expect some periods of steady or small growth. Don’t panic, use this time to improve what you already have. You will be surprised how much you can do better with what you have.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Hopefully we will keep growing. We will have a bigger place, more employees and stock. We will create new lines of products. We hope to be able to inspire as many people as possible.
Wow – what a lovely, confident and growing business – but looking back to the beginning, they did it all very carefully, living within their means on one salary and only going into it full-time for both of them when the turnover started to rise. I love all the nuggets of advice, too. A fabulous journey and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
You can find the lovely Lau&Home website at www.lauhome.com and they are also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. That’s a lot of lovely washi tape and polkadots and bunting and so much more!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.