“Head down bum up”: The Healthy Mummy founder Rhian Allen on her eight business mistakes
Wednesday, November 7, 2018/
I started The Healthy Mummy eight years ago and have learnt so much along the way.
The journey has been incredible, and millions of mums use our products every day, but I still have so much to do — especially as I now navigate international waters after our recent UK launch, with a USA launch planned for 2019.
I am also a big believer in learning from mistakes and not dwelling on them.
Mistakes make you better, stronger and more experienced.
Over the past eight years, I have made lots of mistakes — and I own them all.
Nobody else is to blame for my mistakes. And all of them come from poor decisions on my behalf. But I am thankful for them as they made me better at what I do. And hopefully, over the years I am making less and less of them.
I also like to think of it like making an omelette: you have to crack an egg or two to make an omelette. And for every mistake, there are lots of other good decisions I have made too.
Here are eight mistakes I have made over the years
1. Using the wrong suppliers
When I was starting off, I had no experience with suppliers. And although I was lucky with a few I used, I definitely made some mistakes that cost me money and time — especially in the digital space.
My advice is to get actual recommendations from people who have used the suppliers who are considering. Also find out about the owners of the business, the type of business they run and their ethics — as if you ever have disagreements, you want to be dealing with professional suppliers, not ones that will cause you pain.
2. Trying to do it on your own for too long
For me, I loved being self-sufficient and being across every part of the business. And although I had many staff working across different areas, for a while I definitely did too much working ‘in the business’ rather than ‘on the business’. And although this didn’t impact the growth of the business, it did impact my stress levels.
3. Not employing finance and accounting experts in the early days
Finance was never my strong point, and although I had a basic accountant on from year one, it wasn’t until a couple of years in that I invested in a full-time accountant and bookkeeper. This made a huge difference to the financial operations of the business, which meant better cash flow, forecasting and margins.
4. Not considering all the realities of using third-party contractors
For the first few years, I used a lot of third-party contractors to do work, and it was probably year four before we started hiring all our full-time staff.
The biggest lesson I learnt was if you are using third-party suppliers, you must ask to see their indemnity insurance. Because if they do negligent work for you which causes your business problems and loses money, the only financial recourse if they don’t have insurance is for you to sue them personally.
This is because your business insurance will not cover their mistakes as they are a third-party supplier.
This happened to me. I had to choose whether or not to sue a third-party supplier (who didn’t have insurance). This is something I would never have done as it would have been awful for this person, so instead, I wrote off the $150,000 mistake and the business wore the cost. This was a big, expensive lesson and a wake-up call for me.
5. Waiting to hire a senior team
I definitely waited too long to hire a senior management team.
A senior management team are a big investment — and as I have always operated the business with a positive cash flow, never taken out loans or gone into debt, it was a big decision.
But making the decision to invest in a solid and amazing senior management team has helped to drive the business forward, nationally and internationally, and has allowed me to step away from the day-to-day running of the business and focus on the big picture.
6. Hiring wrong staff
I think it is inevitable that as part of the growing pains of a business you will hire the wrong staff. Either the business isn’t right for the people, or the people aren’t right for the business. I have definitely been in that position, and it costs both money and time.
One the biggest things I have learnt is it costs more to hire the wrong staff than it does to wait for the right staff.
It is so important to bring on staff with the right mindset, energy and skill sets for where you want your business to go. It is always worth investing is finding the right staff and team for your business.
7. Not ordering enough stock
We launch a lot of new product at The Healthy Mummy and there have been many times where we have sold out of a new line at launch because we didn’t order enough. When there is consumer demand for a product, as a retailer, you always want to deliver on that demand, so it is always hard when you sell out and the restock time can be eight weeks or more. So now we do a much better job of ordering more on launch and getting a second order in early so customers aren’t left disappointed.
8. Not networking or talking to others
For eight years I was head down bum up. I didn’t really go to anything or meet anyone outside of The Healthy Mummy.
I was an island. I put 110% of myself into the business — it was all I lived and breathed other than my family. Whereas so many other people who owned businesses seemed to network and connect with each other, and in hindsight, I wish I had done more of this.
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