Spruik stories: Five things to learn about starting a business with Hop and Scotch

8th July, 2015

For as many people who take a deep breath and open their business, there are countless more who don’t. For whatever reason, it seems too daunting.

But they may be making a key mistake. Because while some may have a fantastic idea, they’re fooled into thinking that starting a business will see them riddled with issues.

For Michael Higgin of Hop and Scotch, a dog day care business, starting a business means not having to do things in the traditional way. There’s no one way to start a business, and perhaps there shouldn’t be – not when Hop and Scotch is going from strength to strength after five years in the market.

So what are some of the lessons Hop and Scotch have shown us along the way?

1. You don’t need an office

For many businesses opening an office straight away is more of a pipedream. A huge proportion of businesses simply start wherever they happen to be.

For Hop and Scotch, that was Mum and Dad’s backyard.

“We started out in Warrandyte working out of my parent’s back yard,” says Higgin.

“It’s good for the owners in the sense that they don’t have to worry about their dog escaping and getting out, destroying their house. But it’s good for the dogs; they’re social animals.”

Businesses don’t need an office – at least when starting out. You can get going wherever you are.

2. It’s not always a grind

Starting a business conjures thoughts of working 24 hours a day, constantly huddled over a desk. It’s true – there’s a lot of work. But as Higgin says, it’s quickly balanced by the sheer amount of fun you can have.

“You work really hard, you work long hours, you’re the last person to get paid – but the best thing is you get to choose the people that you’re around every day.”

3. Customers may not come quickly – but the first experience is a delight

Business owners imagine a flood of people rushing through the doors. Not so fast! While you may have the best product in the world, it can take a while before someone catches on. But as Higgin says, once they do – there’s no denying that thrill.

“Before we even launched the business we put up a sign just advertising for grooming in the local bakery. And we got no calls.”

“The sign had been pulled down and about two months after we were still talking about a product name for the business and I got a call.”

That customer still has a relationship with the business. Persistence and patience pays off – in a big way.

4. It’s going to be a slog.

Running a business is like having a baby – the first six months are the hardest. For Higgin, investing a lot of capital – a necessary expenditure to make the business great – also made it a stressful time.

“I think in the early days when you invest a lot of capital into a business and you pretty much give everything you are pretty much running on nothing for like six months.”

5. But you figure it out as you go along. And that’s a good thing.

Successful business owners don’t start that way – everyone is a beginner. For Higgin, that meant months and years of learning. In fact, he still says that Hop and Scotch is learning as it goes along.

“The ignorance is a bit of a blessing,” he says. “There is always something to make the business better, grow more, get more customers, there’s always something.”

For aspiring business owners, this story provides hope. If they can do it – so can you.

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