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Hi strangers, I'm Sarah

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by SarahLocci, Feb 19, 2017.

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  1. SarahLocci

    SarahLocci Member

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    I don't really know how to start this so I'll just jump right into it.

    My name is Sarah and I have plans to start my own bakery here in Belgium. I have taken some steps in that direction but I sometimes would like to have input from others. It's quite hard to find that kind of exchange in the real world. So I'm trying my luck online.
    Right now, I'm looking for THE place to start. And it's hard. I'm worried about choosing the wrong place and thus, dooming my whole project. I don't know if it's like that everywhere but in Belgium, if you rent a place for a commercial purpose, you have to stay there for at best three years and at worst, nine. It makes the whole process that much more stressful.

    It's an introduction so I guess it would be relevant to talk a bit more about myself : I'm 24 and I'm passionate about sweets. I love making them but more than anything, I love creating recipes. I love it when people enjoy what I make and that's what drove me to want my own place. I enjoy cooking and reading as well. I'm a professional procrastinator, which is very bad. But I'm also very organized, which is good. I'm very loud and I'm an expert in list-making. And I'm very bad at drawing but I still draw nonsensical stuff.

    I think that's enough random facts about me. If you feel inclined to, don't hesitate to tell me where you're from and other random facts about yourselves as well. It would be a pretty boring one-sided conversation otherwise :p
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  2. JulesUK

    JulesUK Member

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    Hi Sarah, welcome! I'm new to the page too, I haven't even done my intro yet. If setting up a bakery is your dream then just do it, we don't get anywhere sitting on them, you'll never know unless you give it a go. Negotiating the best deal on a lease and giving it your all for those years might just pay you dividends! Go for it!
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  3. SarahLocci

    SarahLocci Member

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    Thanks for the support, I really appreciate it. It's true that if you don't do anything, you can only have regrets so it's better t forge ahead than ask yourself too many questions ;)
    Welcome to you as well :p
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  4. djbaxter

    djbaxter Administrator Moderator Member

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    Welcome to BizWarriors, Sarah... glad you found us. :)

    I must say that starting out with a 3-9 year lease would cause significant anxiety and caution. What are the options in Belgium for subleasing if you find out that the location of your business is less than optimal?
     
    SarahLocci likes this.
  5. SarahLocci

    SarahLocci Member

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    That's the thing, there aren't many options. Because if the location is for commercial purposes, it can only be rented for business. That's how many small businesses have died, since no one would take up the remainder of the three years, all that was left to do was pay the rent while waiting for the business to go bankrupt.
    If I wanted to sublease, I'd have to find someone willing to take a risk that wouldn't have paid off for myself. Quite tricky, isn't it ? It's even trickier when you take into account the current economy for businesses in Belgium but let's not get into that :rolleyes:
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  6. djbaxter

    djbaxter Administrator Moderator Member

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    Understood but what is a bad location for one type of business isn't necessarily bad for another.
     
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  7. SarahLocci

    SarahLocci Member

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    I must admit I hadn't thought of it that way. When I think about reasons why a location wouldn't work, I only come up with obvious ones that wouldn't benefit any business. Like visibility for example : you can't sell if you aren't seen.
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  8. djbaxter

    djbaxter Administrator Moderator Member

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    True, unless people are looking for you because they know about you from other sources.

    But you're correct - a business like yours depends on a lot of walk-in traffic, not just return customers, so you don't want it hidden around a corner somewhere. It needs to be clearly visible to passersby who may not have heard of you before or who may be only visitors to your city or town.

    There's a location in Ottawa that has had a string of local pubs over the years, none lasting more than a year or two maximum. The problem is that although it's on a main street, it's set well back from the road in a small mall otherwise housing technology outlets, not where you'd expect to find a pub. Additionally, that street is a busy one but it's mostly automobile traffic so the pubs that have tried to open there just don't catch the eyes of people driving by. It amazes me that new business owners keep trying to open another pub there, honestly. It seems doomed from the start.

    On the other hand, the best computer repair store in Ottawa (sadly it closed down last year as the owners retired) was in a location that was not at all visible, in a little mall with a bank, a grocery store, a family restaurant, etc., not a tech place at all. It could not be seen from the main road or even very clearly from the side road. But they were very successful for years because they had a reputation for excellence and fair pricing that spread largely by word of mouth. That said, I wonder how many lean years they went through before they established that reputation.
     
  9. azgold

    azgold Moderator MVP Member

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    Hi, Sarah and welcome!

    Sounds like you're going into the right business if making sweets is your passion. :)

    Wow to the minimum three year lease! That sucks. Any chance you could sublet from someone who has a good location for your business?

    I'm from Ontario, Canada.

    Random facts:
    Fav dessert: creme broulee; anything with whipped cream
    Fav movie genres: horror; true stories
    Fav season: summer
    Fav band: The Beatles

    :) :) :)
     
    djbaxter and SarahLocci like this.
  10. SarahLocci

    SarahLocci Member

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    I see what you mean. I'll look further into the options and look out for anything visible :) Also, I should keep in mind the fact that we are already known within the city I'm aiming for. Maybe I should've said it earlier but the bakery has already been present at events and we have acquired a small following on social media. Then again, is social media really relevant for that kind of information ?
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  11. SarahLocci

    SarahLocci Member

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    Yes that sucks :) I looked into subletting myself but most places don't allow food-related businesses as the rules are too strict for them. It's a real shame since many places have started doing that for start-up businesses :eek:

    By the way, your random facts made me smile, I'm a whipped cream fanatic myself and all my cupcakes have whipped cream frosting instead of buttercream because of that addiction :p
     
  12. djbaxter

    djbaxter Administrator Moderator Member

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    I would say a definite yes to that. It may not carry your business fully but it's where you can develop your loyal repeat followers who can spread the word about your shop to their friends.
     
    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  13. William Clements

    William Clements Moderator Member

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    Bruno Moreira-Guedes likes this.
  14. Hello, @SarahLocci !!

    First thing: WELCOME!! And the random facts about me are that: 1) I'm an ant pretending to be human, cause I love everything which has any sugar; 2) I loved your energy about your new business!!

    Now let's talk about the exciting part: picking your business place!! I think everybody told you most of the funny part, but I think I can add something. You need a target. A profile of customers you want to have in your bakery, for whom you're making your best. Knowing them will make the next definitions a lot easier! I'll show you an example, but you need to pick yourself:
    - Young people living in the X neighborhood. And by young I mean 18-35 years, for instance.

    After you define who's your target you can do a little research about them. And please, don't think it's something hard or useless just because the word "research" looks like something boring, LOL. You can start by identifying a few people in your target and inviting them to have group talks about their preferences... You can ask in such groups, for instance:
    - Where they buy cakes, breads, etc
    - Why do they buy where they buy
    - What kind of place they think are of easy access to buy
    - (and much more)

    You can also give them some sample of your best products, so they'll taste! Ask them if they like it and what can they suggest. You'll be not only researching, but also start getting people to "your side" if they like the products. When you ask people to talk incredible things can happen, like they saying things like "Ohh, are you finding a place in the X neighborhood? There's one available for rent at <...> that you'll love!". Or "really? Why don't you sell them only on the internet?", who knows what your future consumers can say? You can do groups like this till you have a "saturation" (the answers starts to be "the same")

    After you know something about how they buy (times of the day, how much they usually pay, how they pick where to buy, in what places they use to go, etc) you can easily create a set of "prerequisites" for the place you're looking for. For instance, a place you pick might be very visible, may be somewhere there are lots of people passing, but they pass in a time of the day they're not willing to buy (i.e. they pass when they're going to work in a rush, but don't pass when coming back). This is why knowing their habits can be useful, you can estimate where people pass in times of the day they're willing to buy, and you can also analyze traffic for that to understand it better.

    And take an extra attention to what @djbaxter told about the pubs and the computer repair store. They're clever examples. You can turn a bad location into a good location depending on how many years you're willing to wait to be profitable. It also depends on your consumer behavior, if they use to look in an app or ask for recommendations before buying, it's a situation; if they just buy where they're passing by, it's another scenario and will require another action.

    Sarah, in how many time are you wanting to open? I'm doing some pro bono works in management (I'm currently in college), and I could assist you with the location issue and other marketing-related decisions, if you want to!! I cannot be closer to the research as we're far away from each other, but I can help you doing the research you need to do (because I liked your case a lot)! Tell me if you want to, I'll have a lot of free time between 03/04 and 03/25!!
     
    djbaxter likes this.

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