Kerry Ridley's business, My Little Bookshop, began as a mobile bookshop in May 2019. Kerry discovered our SBDC services as she was preparing to open her first 'bricks and mortar' bookstore on the Rockingham foreshore.
At the SBDC, we're here to support all kinds of businesses at all stages of their journey. My Little Bookshop has grown from being a single mobile book van into a thriving business with three mobile vans and a store which hosts a range of events including book launches, teacher afternoons and community workshops.
We spoke to owner Kerry about her business growth and how SBDC services have made a difference to her business.
Take on a new challenge
Kerry is over 50 and says because of this, she found some people assumed she was starting a business as a part-time hobby, not a serious enterprise. This did not deter her from taking on a new challenge.
"It was tough but I didn't go into it thinking it would be," says Kerry. "I thought 'how hard could it be?' I had never done retail before so I wasn't even sure where to find wholesalers and distributors or how to get a trade account. I knew that I was a while off from employing staff but even to employ myself was a challenge at first."
Be open to new opportunities
When Kerry was ready to expand her business, she didn't think she would get as much help from the SBDC as she did.
"When the idea for the business was in my head, I saw an advert in a local newspaper and SBDC was doing a trade fair. So I thought I’d go along to that for 30 minutes maybe, have a look around, pick up some brochures then go. I was there the whole day! I spoke to someone in the business advisory service and she ended up being my mentor for 12 months."
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Kerry has used a range of SBDC services so far and recommends other small business owners explore their options for support too.
"I would recommend that other businesses use the SBDC. I've been using the services from the beginning and they're always there as a great reference point for me for anything I need to do with my business. Don't be afraid to ask questions or put your hand up for help. We all need it."
"Through the business advisory service, my mentor gave me so much great advice – she was a wealth of knowledge. The services were exceptionally helpful because I had no idea about small business or retail. I come from an administration background so to have the SBDC there to guide me and help with all of these things I didn't know about small business has just been an absolute marvel."
Be ready to learn as you go
Kerry has always been detail-oriented and likes to triple check everything. She found there was a lot to learn in relation to her business and welcomed the chance to learn more.
"Opening up a bookshop in a physical space was like starting a whole new business for me. I was utilising things that I hadn't had to before – commercial leases being one of them. SBDC came to the party and helped very much with that. When I called SBDC about employing staff, I was on the phone with them for about an hour and they ran through everything with me about employing staff. It's important to get that right."
Celebrate your successes
As Kerry's business has grown, she has enjoyed some unexpected benefits along the way. "My favourite thing about running my business is the fact I get to meet so many wonderful people and it really is a great sense of community with independent bookshops."
"It was a success when I got 20 followers on Instagram and one was a random stranger. When I got the second travelling mobile van and got that professionally wrapped - I cried when I saw that van."
"My biggest success to date is that I am now the official bookseller at the State Theatre in Perth."