From Retail Owner To Exit: One Woman's Journey To Scaling Success
After moving to NZ from the State with her husband in 2018, Catlyn was looking to start a new career and eventually founded Fill Good, an organic wholefood refillery in 2020. After starting a family with her husband in 2021, Catlyn realised she didn’t want to miss the most important time of her young boys’ lives and decided to prepare her business for sale, eventually selling in August 2023. In an exciting turn of events she was approached by Salena to become a retail strategist and has since been working with numerous businesses looking to scale their businesses.
Why are we so quick to devalue our own products?
Fear of overcharging is a major hurdle for retail and eCommerce store owners, often leading to a discounted race to the bottom.
In this episode of Bringing Business to Retail, we’re joined by strategic coach and former retail business owner Catlyn Calder. Having successfully built and sold an eco-refill store in New Zealand, Catlyn has firsthand experience in overcoming the challenges of growing a retail business.
She shares her journey navigating the highs and lows, and preparing her business for a successful exit within just one year. Catlyn gets real about the money struggles and mindset shifts she battled, from giving too many discounts to not tracking marketing ROI.
She also shares her top tips on delegating tasks, staying focused on strategic work, and avoiding the busywork trap.
Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned business owner, this episode is packed with practical insights from the front line. Tune in to learn from Catlyn’s journey of turning challenges into opportunities for growth.
business, people, work, customer, good, spending, put, money, caitlin, clients, retail, discounts, thinking, buy, products, mindset, started, podcast, brand, number
Salena Knight, Catlyn Calder
Salena Knight 00:02
Hey there, and welcome to the bringing business to retail podcast. If you’re looking to get more sales, more customers, master your marketing, and ultimately take control of your retail or E commerce business, then you’re in the right place. I’m Celina Knight, a retail growth strategist and multi award winning store owner whose superpower is uncovering exactly what your business requires. To move to the next level. I’ll provide you with the strategies, the tools and the insight you need to scale your store. All you need to do is take action, ready to get started. Hey there and welcome to today’s episode of the breeding business to retail Podcast. Today, we have someone who I thought this was her second time on the podcast. And that doesn’t happen very often. However, she assures me that she has not been on the podcast before. I have just talked about her many times before. So I think that is the perfect opportunity to welcome strategy coach, Caitlin colder to the podcast officially and not just talking about all the amazing things that you have done. So welcome. Hello,
Catlyn Calder 01:25
I’m so excited to actually be here not just be talked about. So this is like, Yeah, this is the dream. This is the dream. And it’s funny, because you keep saying Were you talking about me again? Yeah,
Salena Knight 01:38
cuz I’ve listened to this podcast for a while now. Even back when I was doing the course myself. And I was I was like, she’s this is me. She’s talking about me. And she’s not using my name, but I know she’s talking about me. So it’s nice actually be able to defend myself now. Well,
Catlyn Calder 01:56
to be fair, sometimes I am talking about you. But sometimes I’m just talking about the royal you or the royal we where it is so many people doing the exact same things that it feels like, I’m talking about you all straight to you. And so I guess that’s kind of the the ultimate goal of the podcast is to have people think, Oh, my God, she’s talking about me. Maybe it was never about you,
Salena Knight 02:18
maybe. And now that I’m a strategy coach, I can definitely see where I am not alone in anything that I was doing in my business, which is kind
Catlyn Calder 02:28
of comforting in a way. All right. So tell us about that. How has how is it that you ended up here on my team as a strategy coach helping other people to grow their businesses? Yeah,
Salena Knight 02:42
it seems a bit random when I think back at it. But I started a business back in 2020. So I am American, if you couldn’t tell from my accent, and I live in New Zealand, which so my husband is from New Zealand, we moved here in 2018. And I was kind of trying to find a purpose. For living here. I had quite a successful career back in the States. And then when I moved here, it kind of had to start from scratch. And what that was, I wasn’t sure I had no experience in retail whatsoever. So of course, I said, Let’s start a retail business, because why not? So I live in a small town of about 20,000, which to some people might be a lot. But to me as an American from decent sized areas. It was really, really small. But it’s quite an affluent town. A lot of people move down here from cities and retire here. So they have money, and always a good demographic to go after. Yes, yeah. So I knew I was in the right place. But it was about bringing the right product. So trying to find that purpose. And I was moving towards the eco friendly side of things. And people here are definitely ahead of the game in that respect, especially in comparison to America, which is pretty terrible when it comes to those things. So I was learning about these things. And it was becoming more popular way to shop. So I thought, why doesn’t this town have that like this is, you know, affluent town lots of money, but they don’t have the option to shop this way. So I started my own refill store. So it’s an eco re Fillory and Whole Foods, organics, things like that. So basically, you can take your own containers, you can just take brown paper bags and fill up but it’s high end Whole Foods, good quality food, that you could refill your own containers. So I did this in March of 2020 was when I decided to do this and that’s a very interesting date to anyone in the world because it was just about to lock down. And so I took that entire five weeks that we had our first lockdown of April 2020 and planned the entire thing. I just started emailing vendors and when we got out of lockdown, I signed a lease and that was it. I was going for it.
I didn’t realize that that was, that was when you started for some reason, it seems like so long ago, if you had asked me, I would have said 2018. And I think that’s because you’ve managed to jam so much into such a short period of time, and you’ve managed to achieve what some people never get around to doing, which is building a profitable business that someone wants to buy, and you have gone on to sell. So tell me, then I, this is really interesting, because I haven’t heard all of this story before. And so I’m kind of laughing on the inside, as well as laughing on the outside about the fact that you’re in an affluent town. And you have affluent people. And so you went for hire and good quality products. But I know the rest of the story. So can you maybe tell us a little we’ll come back to how you grew, I think during this process, we’ll come back to how you grew and then went on to sell your business. But can you maybe share with us some of the, I guess, obstacles that you had with regards to money in your business, because there is such a distinction here of you saying high end quality effluent. And I behind the scenes know that money was something that you really struggled with in the business.
Salena Knight 06:19
Yeah. And now looking back, the money side of things was probably more mindset than anything, I went into it. First off thinking, These are products that I want to I want to eat, I want to buy, everyone’s gonna want to buy it, I’m never gonna have to worry about people actually come into my store and buying it, it’s just going to be a matter of, you know, my marketing strategy and things like that. So when it came to money, we used our life savings for it really, we decided to start this business instead of buy a house, which is a massive thing to do in New Zealand, because everyone has needs to have a house that’s like their number one priority in life. So we decided to do that with our own money. And when I went into it, I had this mindset that everyone’s just going to buy. And I’m never going to need to figure out like, what my gross profit margin is, or, you know, what my expenses are, and things like that, because they’re just gonna buy for me, and I’m gonna buy more stuff, and they’re gonna buy it. But that’s unfortunately not how it works.
Catlyn Calder 07:19
Take for you to come to that realization that we build it, they might come but you may not have any money left over in the process.
Salena Knight 07:27
Well, we had a grand opening. And I remember it was massive, we had people out the door, and that we did like a $4,000 day. And I just said, This is it. I have nailed it. Like I like I’m a genius. And that’s myself on the back.
Thank you very much.
Salena Knight 07:45
I was like, I’m obviously we know this. And then just slowly, you know, people forget you’re there. You don’t remind them that you’re there. You know, you go out of stock of things, they can come back and buy things. And so it was a very quick realization that we’re running out of money quickly, and it’s not coming back into the account as fast as we’d hoped. So Selena loves to tell the story of I am the girl who would give discounts to people when they didn’t even ask for them or need them. Because as that business started to trickle away, and I wasn’t doing as well my mindset was that while I’m charging too much, this is too expensive for people they can’t afford what I’m offering and so I made that conclusion for it came to that conclusion for them. And so when they would come to the counter I’d see they bought $50 of walnuts oh that’s a lot of ball nuts they probably didn’t want to pay that much for Walmart’s so I’m going to give them a 10% discount. They don’t even know but they’re gonna leave you’re going man I got a good deal I’m gonna go back. That didn’t happen. Like they weren’t coming there for the discounts they were coming there for the quality. But that was another piece of my mindset that took years
Catlyn Calder 09:00
to come to terms with So what made you stop giving the discounts because you say that you you are the OG that we kind of talked about but realistically now that you have worked with so many retailers inside of our team, you can see that you’re not the only person doing this
Salena Knight 09:17
no at tra live I think we had two or three people go I also do that and it made me feel so good which is terrible but it made me feel so much better. Honestly doing scale your store and you yelling at me about it was what? Not yelling but you saying why are you doing that? Made me think oh wait like that’s not my job to tell them what they value and I never thought of it that way and you put it as your Who are you to tell them how much they should be paying for someone something they’ve already decided to make that purchase. And so basically you’re telling them what they value and I that definitely changed my mindset around that And I also realized I can’t provide these services and help people by providing organics and, you know, local products and local producers, if I’m out of business, so I need to be making money in order for me to stay in business to help them. And so it was just changing that mindset around, instead of me feeling like I was hurting them by charging too much. It was more of how can I help them by charging this? How
Catlyn Calder 10:28
do you think you went from premium premium products premium brand affluent area to Oh, my gosh, these people can’t afford it. Like, what was the thing that made you decide that the whole, the whole premise of your brand disappeared out the window. And now the people who were coming in weren’t gonna pay? I mean, let’s be honest, you had a beautiful brand, like the one thing you had going for you amazingly, was your branding. And so your, your brand, imagery, your brand ethos, everything you stood for, was all about the premium, the luxury, good for you. But you got to pay for it. And so, like, why would you go from that, to people who are coming in are going to pay? I think it was a lot of fear,
Salena Knight 11:19
to be honest, fear of disappointing people, you know, you would get those comments of, oh, that’s expensive from a few people here. And there. Even my staff that I had, would say things like, Oh, I wouldn’t buy that, because that’s so expensive. And so you get these things in your head that am I doing this wrong? Did I did I do all this research on my market, and my customer and get it completely wrong? And so you just start to doubt yourself? So I think it was a lot of fear involved in that.
So what do you tell the people that you work with? Now, when you see this problem poking its head up? I think I just
Salena Knight 11:58
tell them to think about their mindset. And I also bring up the fact that like, you can’t help anyone if you’re out of business, and so you have to protect those margins. And, and just like me, these people aren’t even paying themselves for the most part. So instead of paying themselves for the work that they’re doing, they’re discounting their customers, and taking anything that they could possibly take away from themselves. And so I tried to put it that way. And it’s been a massive mindset change to a lot of people have, I can’t be in business and continue to help them without money in the bank. Okay.
Catlyn Calder 12:35
So once we got past that hurdle of the people who were coming in, will pay for my product. Were there other problems that you found like money, whether it’s money, mindset, physical money, product related? Were there any other things that you found that just kept kind of popping up? Or just obstacles that you just had to keep smashing your way through? Yeah, there
Salena Knight 12:58
were there were several, I’d say money was always like, if I was to work over a pillar, I would just continue working on the money pillar, because it was always my problem. But gross profit margin was another one getting that right. And I was in the beginning, I would just say, what’s the competitor charging, and I would undercut them and say, I’ll just charge less. So that people
want to ask customer, let’s just let’s just hop back to your customer was a customer who was prepared to pay for quality.
Salena Knight 13:24
I know. So that was another thing. I had to go back and say, no, like, I need to make this much in order. So the profit health check was a game changer for me from scale your store. So figuring out what I needed to break even was monumental, because then I could say, okay, I can do that I can make this much money, I just need to know how much it needs to be in order for me to pay myself in order for me to pay my staff. And that’s where it came to. Once I knew that number. I could then set targets and that was another thing that was huge was creating those targets for myself and for my staff. So my staff would then have a goal, a daily goal, a weekly goal, a monthly goal to work towards, and they got competitive about it like in a good in a friendly way. But they they really just latched on to that. Like, if I if I make her more money, like we this is good for everyone. And so that was huge, too. It just we just saw the dial go up. And I’d say we saw 30% increase on the first month of doing
Wow, wow. But you did not want to implement those targets. No. Why?
Salena Knight 14:36
Well, I always thought my staff aren’t here to be competitive. They’re not here to like I with my brand. It was all about customer service and making sure like it was a good shopping experience. I didn’t want them harping on the customers and saying you know upsell this and you know, this goes good with this, but it actually helped the customer in the end, which I didn’t think of because I’m an American when I walk into a store and I don’t know the Americans, but when I walk into the store, I don’t want to be spoken to. But this is just me as a person. Most people, like, a friendly conversation with someone. And so I always told my staff, you know, just just let them shop. But when we decided to change that and make goals, it was actually helping the customer in the end, because they were getting products that complemented what they were buying, and they didn’t have to go to three different stores and things like that. So that was also a change of mindset.
Catlyn Calder 15:27
So how did you attain react when you put the targets in place? Because you were apprehensive? So I couldn’t imagine that that apprehension probably was convinced, like when you’re bringing it in, you weren’t like, Oh, we’re gonna do we’re gonna bring in sales targets, it’s gonna be fantastic for everyone. Yeah,
Salena Knight 15:45
I think there was definitely a bit of apprehension that had to staff at the time. And there was definitely a bit of apprehension of thinking that they couldn’t hit it and disappointing me in some way. But I think when I made it a bit more fun in that, like, you’re obviously not going to be fired if you can’t meet these targets. These are what I expect. But above and beyond this, I would reward them with things. And that really changed how they thought about it and less of like, disappointing me, but more of like, I’m getting more out of my job.
Catlyn Calder 16:15
Isn’t it funny, because it wasn’t that they were worried about losing their jobs, if they didn’t hit the target, they were worried about disappointing you, which just goes to show back to that brand. And the culture that you built in the business was, it wasn’t about them. It was I don’t want to let you down it honestly, if you have people who work in your business who think like that, you never let them go. Because they will learn anything that you need to teach them that, you know, they’re always going to come in early, stay late, because they believe in you and they believe in the business. And those people aren’t gold, as you saw, like 30% increase in a month. Like that is phenomenal.
Salena Knight 16:56
Yeah. And I was always because my brand was strong. And it showed what we who we were and what we believed. And I always really attracted those really good people that that believed the same things. And so I feel like people say I was very lucky with staff, but I think it has to do with what we represented more than anything.
Yeah. And you were very good at conveying that as well. So people wanted to buy in. Yeah, to a business like that. That’s what I want to be there. I want to work there. Yeah, exactly. All right. Any more money problems, money, obstacles, I’m not gonna call them problems. I
Salena Knight 17:33
mean, obviously, obviously, profit was an obstacle in the beginning. But as we got that profit health check, right, and I knew what the number was that I needed to shoot for. And I had that in my head. Obviously, I’ve always wanted to go above and beyond that. But you know, when you start a business, and everyone says, It takes two to three years, for you to make half, two to three years, I didn’t have two to three years. And I didn’t always have it in my mind that I wanted to sell. But it was I didn’t want to own this business forever. It wasn’t going to be that way for me. So I knew I had to do it quickly. So it was about finding those numbers and how I could find those money leaks quickly and get rid of them. But I feel like there’s one saying that says in order to make money you have to spend money and I hate that saying so much now, we
Catlyn Calder 18:25
are a team of tight asses Exactly. When
Salena Knight 18:29
they’re when they’re telling me that I’m like it should be you need to spend as little as possible to make money that’s what the saying should make the maximum return make the maximum return because no one tells you that you just think oh, I’m gonna put all this money into marketing and then I’m gonna get double the amount back because that’s what they say I’m gonna do right. But that was not enough. That was not enough done here. Are only 50%
Catlyn Calder 18:51
Yeah, yeah. So that’s interesting because I think that’s one of the things that we do really well as a team is we are we have the things that we value and we laughed about this at tra live you took me into Mecca cosmetica And you which you do not look like the kind of person if you’re watching the video you’ll see this but Caitlin doesn’t look like the kind of person who drops hundreds of dollars. Not to say she’s no good. Look, she looks amazing. But what I’m saying is she doesn’t look OTT so not the kind of person who I expected to drag me into Mecca cosmetica and drop several $100 on beauty and skincare. She is however a very good salesperson because she got me to buy $105 skincare cream which actually was fabulous and and I need to go and buy some more because I’ve run out and everyone was saying how fresh I looked when I was using it. So you’re very good salesperson and very much a you know what you value but you kinda like me and a tight hours in so many other places and this is why we are good strategists on Our team because we are always looking for ways to make more money that generally don’t cost anything. Yes, absolutely. And there are hundreds of different ways like you know yourself the different things that we can do in a business, to get people to make more money that often require spending nothing at all. It’s just exponential. So I want to now to dig into your brain because you are a smart person, and which is why I hunted you down. That was a little fun little story about how Caitlin went on to sell her business. And let’s, let’s go back to that story in a second. Caitlin went on to sell her business in the minute, I saw that I actually reached out and asked her if she wanted to work for me, but hilariously, our phone number, our US phone number is is it Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania. And yeah, we just picked a random number. And so when I called her, her mom lives in Pennsylvania, and she thought it was someone reading up to give her bad news about her mom, so it didn’t stop. Here, I am so excited to call her and ask her if she would like to come and join the team. And she’s like, Oh, my God, what’s wrong with my mom? Because it’s a fun story. Yeah, it is. I want to ask you now you work with retail and E commerce stores, you know, six figures, seven figures getting up to eight figures? What are the recurring things that you see, regardless of like, like you said a bit earlier on is, you see these same problems over and over again. And it doesn’t matter if someone is turning over $500,000 $2 million $8 million. It’s kind of just the same, same, but with an extra couple of zeros on the end.
Salena Knight 21:43
Yeah, exactly. And that’s, I didn’t realize that until taking on this position. But they all had the exact same problems as me. And I was bringing in a fraction of what some of them are, like, I have mid seven figure clients that don’t know their gross profit margin or, you know, don’t know what’s leaking out of their business or spending insane amounts on marketing and not realizing that the returns aren’t making them actual money, things like that. But there’s, it all kind of starts with the mindset as well, and control. And I know you talk about that a lot, so about taking control of your business. But that is the number one thing that you need to take control of first and foremost, to get to the next level. So I am I’m finding in most of my clients that it’s just they don’t have control over that side of their business. So they’re losing in all other aspects.
Catlyn Calder 22:38
What are like the top three things, it’s top three places that you see money leaking, because we talk about money leaks and money, fountains all the time, money, fountains, you know, you just put money in and more money keeps you just makes more money. It’s like the golden goose. But money leaks are easy ways that we get people to make money is just plugging those money leaks. So I guess what are the what are maybe the three key things that you find that you work on with your clients, regardless of their revenue? To give them like, we have activation points. So when you work with a client, Katelyn has KPIs. And one of those KPIs is to hit multiple activation points for our clients, because we know if you guys get them, then you’re likely to see good results. Because let’s be honest, my money is on the table because I offer a money back guarantee, but also to be engaged and to get the results that you came to us for. So yeah, what do you think the top three are?
Salena Knight 23:37
The number one would be stock that’s more than 90 days old, which you know, that’s kind of the first thing we ask someone when they come in is how much stock do you have? That is always they always have something I just had a call with a client, you know, they’ve got t shirts that have been like hundreds of T shirts that have been sitting in the back unbranded, just sitting there collecting dust. And I said eyes twitching. Yeah. And they’re not even a t shirt business. There you go. Even. So just they’ve been that back there for you know, a really long time. And that’s just money sitting in a backroom somewhere, just literally a box of money sitting there. And that’s how I envision it. And we have, every client I have has a box of money somewhere sitting. Another way is marketing. Ever, like I said, you have to spend money to make money is the way that we all think but they have to be working for you. And back to the control thing. We have to give them KPIs to meet those goals. And a lot of the business owners aren’t giving them the guidance and so they don’t take the guidance. They do what they have to the bare minimum to bring those things. And
Catlyn Calder 24:52
you just told just to clarify what you’re talking about. A good example would be you’re paying an agency to run your ads and And you haven’t given them any KPIs, you kind of spending the money because you know, you need to run ads, but you’re not really checking in to make sure that the money that you’re spending is making you money and is making your money on that not only on the front end, but also on the back end, that you’re bringing in clients who come back again, and again, not just those one off clients who are trying to say clients, but one off customers who want the 10% discount, or the 20, or the free shipping, or whatever it is the offer that you’ve used to get them in. And so I mean, that’s, that is a key one, I think that we see over and over again, is people spending money, because they know that they need to spend money on marketing, but actually having no idea whether they’re spending it in the right place, or they’ve got the right people spending their money. Yeah, yeah.
Salena Knight 25:47
And another one, which I didn’t think was so apparent was just knowing your pricing and your costs. So gross profit margin being the main one. But do you need to lift your prices 10% In order to make those expenses and make yourself a profit. I mean, a lot of the business owners I talked to don’t even realize what some of the expenses that they’re putting into the business that are costing them that gross profit margin back. So just knowing your numbers really well. And that often comes down to they’re doing so much in the business already, that they don’t have the time or the bandwidth to focus on those things. So that adds another level layer of how can we then give your team some other responsibilities to take things off your plate and cetera? Okay,
Catlyn Calder 26:38
I want to jump into that conversation. This is something that we see. And I have seen it over and over again, in my decade and a half of B. And I used to do it as well, is that you tell me when you do an onboarding call is that one of the number one things that people say to you as an objective of working together with us to work less in the business? Always? Every single time, right? Every single time? Always. So with that in mind, if they getting the result, which they all do, if they’re getting the results that they want? D? Do you think that that objective, because our whole goal is to make them work less like that’s, that’s my goal, that’s your goal, everyone on the team, our primary objective is let’s put the systems in place, so that you don’t have to work as much. And you could start to step back and actually enjoy being in business. But I don’t know about you. But I find that’s the number one thing that people don’t seem to actually do. They say they want it, but they don’t go ahead and do it. Yeah.
Salena Knight 27:43
It’s the busy work, I don’t know what it is about the busy work and not wanting to relinquish that control. But there are certain things that you can be doing for your business to actually move it forward. And I think not seeing themselves. And we talked about the CEO position, not seeing them selves as the CEO of their business, and that they can do things to actually move their business forward to where they want it to be to where they work less. But then they have to then relinquish some control and delegate. And that’s where we run into trouble a lot is the delegation, and oh, I don’t have the people for that, or she’s not, you know, good enough for that. But if you’re going to hire an employee, there needs to be that expectations that they should meet certain criteria. Mm hmm. I think that is, I think that you’ve hit it on the nail, the nail on the head when you said there’s stuff that they can do to keep themselves busy. But that actually focuses on growing the business, rather than, like, yeah, I’ve said it so many times, you shouldn’t be making pictures in Canva, you shouldn’t be uploading products to your website, there are so many things that people fill their day with, so they can feel like they crossed it off. But realistically, if the time that you spent creating some images in Canva, you actually spent crunching the numbers and looking at your profit margin or looking at your perfect product matrix to see which of your products are high volume, and making sure that you’ve got more of those or creating a promotion around those, you would far exceed the dollars that whatever that Canva graphic was going to do for you. Then if you just spent that time doing work, that is your job in the business, like your job is to run the business not be in the business. Yeah. And I think that no one teaches you that in the beginning, right, like you just think and you do have to wear every hat and the beginning because that’s just the way it is. But most of the businesses that I’m talking to have been in business for you know, 510 15 longer 40 years one like and you know, the same things are still happening. So, at some point you have to decide, do I just want to be in the store running things That’s fine, if that’s what you want. But if you have come to us to scale, and that’s what your objective is, then we have to then see what you can actually do to move your business forward, rather than making things in Canva. And I had the same exact problem, I should have been working on my cash flow forecasting constantly. But instead, I was creating social media posts, which
was very pretty social media posts. Very pretty.
Salena Knight 30:23
But did they bring me in any income? Probably not.
Catlyn Calder 30:27
But were you tracking if they brought you any income? zactly.
Salena Knight 30:29
And I wasn’t tracking. So once I started tracking and saying, Oh, wait, my cash flow forecasting would actually keep me in the profit because I won’t be spending as much money. Or do I put up a social media post that brings in two people to the shop like it was? It was good once you start tracking? Yeah. Okay.
Catlyn Calder 30:46
So let’s circle back to how you prepared the business for sale? Because so many people want that as an objective like, like you said, you may not start a you did start out with the I’m not going to do this forever. But so many people start out without even thinking about, what is my exit strategy? Is there an exit strategy? Do I want to hand this down to my kids? PS, your kids probably don’t want the business because you spent their entire growing years obsessed with the business and working yourself into the ground. And they don’t want to be a part of that. But that’s another story. So those people who are thinking, You know what, I’ve been doing this five years team, I don’t want to do this forever. You got onto that chain onto that train pretty quickly. So can you walk us through? What was the like, when you made your decision to sell? What did that process look like? And what kind of timeframe did it actually take? Because people think that they can just, oh, if I’m finished, I’ll just if I’m if I’m done with this, I’ll just put my business on the market next week. Huh? That’s not possible. No, no,
Salena Knight 31:52
it’s not. But I had to come to that conclusion. Pretty soon. Something that I left out of this story was that I found out I was pregnant with my first son in July of 2020. And I opened just after you. Yeah. Yes. So I’ve never, I’ve never owned a store without being pregnant or having a newborn child. So that was fine. I got through that first year. And then I got pregnant with a second child. So these are all my own, you know, I’m doing this to myself. And then I had him and just April of this year, when he was born. Even before that, when when Alex was born, my first son, I decided this, I want more time with my kids, I know I want to have more kids, I want more time with them. So I need to start preparing this business is only a year old at this point. But I know that I need to start putting systems and processes in place that someone can take over the ship easily without me having to, you know, be there constantly teaching them how to do it. So that’s when I started writing everything down, I started writing everything I do down, I started trying to make everything automated as possible. So keep using apps and you know, Google Sheets and things like that to collate everything that I know, that actually worked in the business, and staff training, things like that. And then I really just had to get my business to a point of profitability that someone actually saw it as lucrative rather than just a job. So that kind of mean, it was probably I did the course not long after I’d opened and then probably within a year is when I decided to sell so it took me it took me about a year to get to that place of okay, it’s ready. And then I put it on the market in May and sold it by July. So it did it did sell quite fast. Yeah. But I think that had to do more with the brand and it you know, being exciting to someone to own a store like that. But no, you do need to do a lot of work to prepare your business
for that. Do you happen to know why the owners bought like, did they ever tell you that? This was the thing?
Salena Knight 34:09
I think it had to do with a lot of right place at right time. She had just bought another business not far like about 30 minutes out of town that’s similar. And she wanted to expand it to where I live in Cambridge. So she she said oh, if I hadn’t bought this other business, I would buy yours and I said oh, you could just buy both and bring them the same so
it was a good salesperson you worked out well. But
Salena Knight 34:33
it’s just right place the right time. But the brand I think the the ethos and the customers as well. I mean that we have really really loyal customers, which helped and you could see that all in kind of the package that we put together to send off to her but you do have to like package it up in a pretty little bow and you know, make things look as nice as possible to
I love it. I love it. And it’s interesting there were you were just saying it took me A year because I think a lot of people think when they make the decision, it’s kind of like selling your house, when you make the decision to sell. No one just then puts their house on the market. And if they do, they never get the price, they really want it because there’s always the dripping tap and the peeling paint and all that stuff that you didn’t really think about. And so you were kind of wired a little bit earlier on, you’re like, if I’m going to sell this thing, someone has to be able to walk in and not just walk into a job. And that’s clearly what the new owners have done. They’ve walked in and they’re buying to to create, you know, they’re going to leverage the good bits of yours and the good bits of the other thing and put them together and yeah, build themselves a little empire. It’s fantastic. But yeah, taking 12 months, like, if I could, if I could tell anyone that it would be like when you have made the decision to sell, it’s probably 12 months later than when you should have started getting ready, because it does take that long. And trust me, you will be so surprised when you start realizing what it’s like when you when you walk into your house when you’re thinking about selling and all of a sudden, you see that I have one of these, I have the tile that is come off the front of the step. And I’m like that tile has been off the front of that step for 10 years, and I have not paid any attention to it. Oh, the first thing these people are gonna see when they walk in the house is there is a tile missing, and someone who’s going to buy your business is looking at how they’re going to use whatever you think they’re gonna work, they’re gonna make money out of it. And so they’re looking at how can they make more money than you did with the thing that you created?
Salena Knight 36:33
Exactly. And that’s what everyone thinks, right? That they’re How can I improve this to do even better? And so I think if I had to do it again, if I would have started even earlier, I would have started from the day I opened, just putting down everything into a system and a process so that not only is that going to make my life easier, but when I do exit like it’s there, it’s ready to go on a silver platter. Yeah, even a year was probably a little too late. Yeah. So thank
you would do again, because that was the question I was going to ask you is, you would start the processes right back at the beginning, you would have put the sales targets, you said earlier on, you would have put the sales targets in right back at the beginning. Yeah. Is there anything else? What else would I have done?
Salena Knight 37:21
So many things. Um, I think I would have been better at the marketing practices of things. I think I had to learn a lot about that and telling people about my business. I get this from my other clients too. But they’re like everyone comes in, and they’re like, Oh, we didn’t know you existed. They’d been there for 20 years. And I think when it comes to marketing, I would have found more just better ways to market that didn’t cost me a lot of money. So getting involved with a community and things. But yeah, I think if I could have gotten that ball rolling a little bit better, I would have been better off in the end.
Catlyn Calder 38:04
There’s a lot, there’s a lot. And it’s always going to change because the world changes so fast. Like what was in especially in E commerce, what was really important in 2020 is kind of like an expectation now, like what was above and beyond in 2020, is what customers are expecting as a baseline these days. And with AI coming into everything, like the again, the whole world is going to change. But if you are too busy, sitting there creating things in Canva, or uploading products to your website, all that’s going to happen is you’re gonna fall behind because your competitors are like, Oh my gosh, how can we you you said earlier on the you really big on automation? Yeah, the people who aren’t spending all their time full of busy work are going to be looking at their business and going, Oh, how can we use AI to speed up the processes? How can we use AI? To answer customer? This is something that I’m seeing now is using AI and uploading a knowledge base to answer your, like customer queries. Not not a bot, like not a not not a pick your question here. But actually reading through your FAQ is that you upload and having a conversation with the person and they don’t know that they’re not speaking to a real person. And just think if you can free up a whole staff member on customer service. What that does for your business. Yeah, but you’re not even thinking about that because you’re too busy uploading six products onto your website.
Salena Knight 39:32
Now I think it’s the easiest time ever right at the moment to to own a business to run a business. I don’t think we realize that but we have so much at our fingertips that people 2030 years ago, didn’t have 10 years ago didn’t have and I think we really just need to use that to its best abilities. Yeah,
Catlyn Calder 39:54
it is really the analogy of working smarter, not harder. Absolutely. All right. So I love you to bid. And I love that you’re part of the team. And I love all the successes that you have created, I’m just going to rattle off just a couple of the successes that Caitlin has had with her clients over the last couple of weeks is one seven figure business owner that you worked with you doubled their revenue. in month two, and month three, you have increased somebody’s conversion rate, you’ve helped increase their conversion rate on their website by 50%. That is amazing. And you have 20% over somebody’s goal, you’ve helped them get 20% over their goal. And I’m just thinking another one did a promotion and did what double and a half
Salena Knight 40:45
40% Better the exact same promotion last last year. And the amazing thing is, is sometimes I’m like, Oh, these businesses are just growing. So it makes sense. But then when you’re looking at businesses that have been, they’ve been there for a long time, and then all of a sudden they’re getting that exponential growth, like it is something that they’re doing differently. Yeah,
Catlyn Calder 41:06
yeah, that would be the health of you and our team. If you want to work with Caitlyn, or if you want to be inside of our program, the Next Level Up program where we act as your personal Advisory Board, make sure you reach out either send us a DM on Facebook, or Instagram or go to the website, you’ll find a form there. You never know who you might end up with. Caitlin, do you have any parting words of wisdom that you feel that you have to finish this podcast off with?
Salena Knight 41:37
I honestly wish that I could have been a strategy coach when I was running a business. Because I all the time. I’m like, David, why didn’t I do that? Did I? Why did I do like it’s just constant. Like man, I would have been rolling in it if I had all these resources at that time, and you had you three years ago, if I had years ago, but even my husband who’s in a completely different industry, he but he’s in sales is like I can use that I can like there are just so many things that you can use in different businesses. But I wish I could go back in time and be a strategy coach while also owning a business. And I would be nailing it.
Catlyn Calder 42:13
And I think one of the things we haven’t kind of touched on, which we will just say is, to me one of the benefits. And I say this, because in a couple of hours, we have our daily call, one of the benefits that we have in our business is being able to talk with the whole team, about our retailers so that it’s not just you’re not reliant on one person’s knowledge. It’s like, if you are the only person working in the business and someone wants to buy your business, then they’ve got to get everything out of your head and into some kind of process. And same someone working with you or they’re working with carry or they’re working with. And they don’t just have you to have that information, because every day we meet and we talk about the different constraints that people have, and what are the things that we can put together to help them fix it. And so you end up with this situation where you’re not just dealing with one person you’re dealing with, like what did they say the sum of the whole is worth more than the part and always get that one wrong?
Salena Knight 43:12
sum of the parts is worth more than the whole. I
think it’s No, I don’t know. Anyway,
Salena Knight 43:19
we sayings on this team.
We like sayings like money we make the more people we serve. Yes, the purple was ones that actually mean nothing. You have you have access to the collective of brains, the brain to trust, not just the one person that you work with. And that’s what I love. I love hearing about this stuff every single day. So Miss Caitlin, you have now been on your first podcast, and you were fantastic. Thank you so very much.
Salena Knight 43:50
Thank you so much for having me, it was so much fun. So that’s a wrap. I’d love to hear what insight you’ve gotten from this episode, and how you’re going to put it into action. If you’re a social kind of person, follow me at the Selenite and make sure to leave a comment and let me know. And if this episode made you think a little bit differently, or gave you some inspiration, or perhaps gave you the kick that you needed to take action. Then please take a couple of minutes to leave me a review on your platform of choice. Because the more reviews the show gets, the more independent retail and E commerce stores just like yours, that we can help to scale. And when that happens, it’s a win for you. A win for your community, and a win for your customers. I’ll see you on the next episode.
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