Looking Back On 20 Years In Business
Author: Jocelyn Serone
Woo hoo, I've been in business 20 years!
This week marks 20 years since I started my business. Hip, hip, hooray! Of course, this has got me thinking about how much has changed in our world since 1996, both generally & in business. Here is a list of 10 things that have changed in my business over the last 20 years-
- Phone calls & faxes- remember when customers used to ring you on the phone, or if they were really fancy, they would fax you an order? These were the days before full inboxes, attachments & hours of answering these emails.
- Carbon copy invoices- now, this change I don’t mind! I love my cloud based accounting software & not having to save 7 years of paper invoice books for the Tax Office. And with thousands of product codes to remember now, I am eternally grateful I am not manually writing out invoices!
- Yellow pages- oh my goodness…. I remember in the days before I connected to the internet, looking for fabric suppliers. I drove to my local post office, received my 2 allocated free yellow pages telephone books (Sydney & Brisbane, from memory) & then had to order in any additional books I required. So for me to have access to fabric suppliers in all capital cities, I required about 7 books, $30 & 2 weeks for these books to be delivered! And I didn’t even think about buying from the other side of the country, because freight was way too expensive.
- Cheques- ah, yes, cheques… most of my early orders were paid by cheque, along with the instruction, “Please don’t bank this until Friday, when my pay goes into the bank.” So, I had to wait 3 days to bank said cheque & another 6 days for it to clear! I have to say, I really love direct deposit- if the money’s not in my account, then the order is not shipped.
- Local customers- 20 years ago, the only way I could reach customers further afield was to advertise in magazines & papers. Now in the present, 40% of Lahay’s sales is from overseas. It’s an amazing time to be in business!
- No social media- working in a small business, the only time we were social was when we attended a networking event or received a phone call! Despite the time & energy social media takes out of my working week, I am thoroughly thankful for it coming along. I often wonder how small business survived before the advent of Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
- Competition- in the days before the internet was readily available, I would buy all my sewing components from the rep who came to my business. These days, the same rep still visits but I also have a choice of a million similar companies, from all around the world.
- Time frames- have you noticed that people have very little patience anymore? In this fast paced world, when a click of a button buys you a product & money is taken immediately out of your account, customers expect a handmade product in a blink of an eye. With a few slight improvements & technological developments, these handmade garments still take nearly as long to make as they did 20 years ago- it’s called “craftsmanship’!
- Music choice while working- oh yes, this was either cassette tapes or the radio! Then fancy cds came bursting in, with their brilliant sound. Now we are totally spoilt for choice- Spotify, Pandora & iTunes, with the huge range of music & podcasts they provide on any device you wish to use.
- No website needed- remember when life was simple? Yes, before I needed to make decisions about which designer would design our website or would I do it myself? If I did, which platform, which template & don’t even get me started with the best colours to use for selling! I often wonder how my business ever survived before my website & why so many businesses still don’t have a website, let alone a decent one.
Anyway, thank you for coming down Memory Lane with me. There have been some bumpy, gravelly bits in this road, with a few twists & turns -some patches have been smooth highway driving. I wouldn’t change any of it. Starting my own business 20 years ago was one of the best & biggest decisions I have ever made. I have met some amazing people & kept my family clothed & fed in the process!
I would love to hear in the comments below what changes you have made in your business during the years, including the things you miss & the things you love. Here's to the next 20 years!