1. Make sure you know your market. ‘You must do a lot of homework before you go into anything,’ she warns. ‘Starting your own business is the most wonderful thing to do: you’re growing yourself, your brand, a dream of yours; you’re employing people. But it comes with a lot of pressure, so you really have to know what you’re doing before plunging in.’ Market research and a SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] analysis mean fewer pitfalls later on.
2. Take a risk – but remember the recession. ‘Nothing is ever foolproof: sometimes you just have to go in there and take the chance,’ she advises. ‘But don’t be too risky. It’s a tough time out there, and I think people need to be a bit conservative.’
3. Find a partner with a complementary skill set. Leanne played it safe by going into business with her sister-in-law, Mandy Manas, owner of Koco Bino, which specialises in high-end baby wear and maternity wear. A partner with a proven track record minimises your risk, especially if you have no experience in retail or business.
4. Ask yourself, ‘How will I pay the bills?’ ‘Cash flow is the biggest problem in any business,’ states Leanne. ‘It’s all fun and games, but when you’re in retail, you’re working to pay the rent at the end of the month.’
5. To attract customers, you’ll need to keep introducing new concepts, products and looks. Of Simply Manas Leanne says, ‘I think the hard work is in constantly reinventing it, always finding new and fresh dynamic things.’