Walk the Walk
Formerly the Economic Development Director for Greenwood County, Ashley Bogle took the bold step of “walking the walk”. In the fall of 2011, Ashley left her traditional economic development job and decided to start her own business. The Branding Pot in downtown Eureka is the result of her hard work and determination.
Ashley offers these tips to others considering starting a business in a rural community:
1. You need to have built in fail-safes when doing
business in small towns. You have to have a solid financial plan for how you’re going to fund your business, how you’ll purchase inventory and what happens if it doesn’t sell, how you’ll pay your bills when you’re waiting on others to pay theirs and so much more. “We made the decision not to mortgage or home or our vehicles. We had that built in fail-safe that if this didn’t work out; we still had a place to live.”
2. Work with a local bank that knows you, your family, your work ethic and the community. They’ll know what can work and areas to pay special attention to – like school sports or programs, maybe those days you need to stay open late so people can come after. Those are the kinds of things that your local bank can share, maybe the town goes quiet on Sunday afternoons making it unrealistic to expect large sales during that time period.
3. Don’t expect to make a living from your business right away. Ashley advises that she’s taken no income from the first 1-2 years of owning her store, everything she makes is invested right back into the business.
4. Customer service is key. “People shop with me because of the relationship I have with them and because of the customer service I offer. Everything is made here, I don’t outsource.”
5. Partner with others, maybe there’s a store in another town you can partner with to place orders to meet minimums. “Sometimes something doesn’t sell in my store, but they can’t keep it in stock in another town. Having those partnerships helps everyone; I can send my inventory to another town or request a special size they carry for one of my customers. Working together really makes a difference.”
To learn more, check out the Branding Pot on Facebook!