Market research is essential for anyone looking to go into business, according to East Victoria Park business owner Shellie Attwood.
“Don't just open something without looking around in the neighbourhood to see what is already there,” she advised.
Shellie is the owner of Greenbunch, a florist, café and plant store along the popular hospitality strip in Victoria Park.
“Make sure that you have a little bit of capital behind you as things always cost way more to set up than you think and most importantly, negotiate a good lease,” she said.
Find a niche to stand out from the crowd
Shellie said the uniqueness of her business is one major aspect that attracts the customers to her shopfront.
"We are unlike any other store around Victoria Park,” she said.
“Our jungle-like interior created by all the living plants is ever evolving, with something for the green thumbs as well as those looking for that perfect coffee brew.
“The coffee lovers can find that perfect living gift while they wait for their brew and vice versa - those buying or ordering a floral bouquet can enjoy a refreshment!”
Look for a compatible retail stream
Shellie started out with a very large shop, with high rent, before starting the business in East Victoria Park.
“I was really struggling to pay for everything, and really needed a second income stream that would complement the florist,” she said.
“So, I did a little bit of research as to what was involved in setting up a small café, and took a leap of faith.
“Thankfully it worked very well so when I started the new business in East Vic Park, I already had a lot of confidence that it would work again.”
Focus on inclusivity for all customers
Shellie has made sure that her business is accessible in - not only in the physical layout, but also in who she welcomes as customers.
“We are a child, pet, pram and wheelchair friendly,” she said.
“The café menu also caters for vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances.”
Pay it back and forward by sourcing from local suppliers
Many WA businesses sought out local suppliers as a means of keeping up with orders disrupted by the post pandemic supply chain, despite the sometimes higher costs.
Shellie not only believes that this is good business sense for future sustainability, but also ensures freshness of products that have limited shelf life.
“We support local nurseries and artisans, where we can, sourcing our products so that when you buy from us you are supporting not just one independent business but a wider business community.”
Independence the best reward
Shellie nominates the independence of owning her own business as the best reward for her hard work.
“I can try new things without asking anyone first,” she said.
“I love what I do, and I enjoy retail - I do also wish there were more hours in the day.”
Reach out for advice
Reflecting on her business journey, Shellie wishes she had contacted the SBDC earlier in her career.
“I sincerely believe that I would have received invaluable advice,” she said.
“I would have loved to have had a mentor. Being in a small business is extremely hard, especially if you are just a café, or just a florist.”
“I think especially in these very challenging times, you need something just a bit different for a customer to be excited to shop with you.”
Family and life priorities can change business directions
Shellie said that now having two grandchildren has changed her priorities and future business plans.
“Just a few months ago my business partner Ros, and I, decided that that we would sell Greenbunch this year,” she said.
“It was a very hard decision to make, as I really love what I do. I think the business is very, very strong, and still has so much growth.”
If you would like more information on themes covered in Shellie’s story, you might like to read through:
- Free market research and industry data
- How to negotiate your way to a better lease
- Starting a business partnership
- Free business advisory service
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