Case study : bookshop owner

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Lauren - Boldrewood Books, EagleHawk

Lauren is 25 and opened her own second-hand bookstore in Eaglehawk, Victoria, in March 2004.

"I'm a frequenter of bookshops and always have been. I've always wanted to have my own bookstore and I've been collecting books for a long time. I'm an avid reader and I also enjoy being around others who love books."

She decided to start her own business because she wanted to have control over her own future. "I had a dream of being my own boss. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something big. I like a bit of a challenge."

When asked about her business philosophy, Lauren talks about creating something that's accessible to everyone.

"I carry stock that suits most readers, from young readers to older people, fiction and non-fiction. I want to build up a regular customer base, which I think is achievable in a small community like Eaglehawk."

Lauren's background is interesting and diverse. She worked in retail for several years, supported herself through a Professional Writing and Editing course and does freelance writing for Sasi Marketing and the Eaglehawk Times.

She got to know her community well from working with the paper. She sees her bookstore as an opportunity to combine her love of words with her retail experience.

To get started, she read a number of books that tell you how to start and run your business and she also visited her nearest Victorian Small Business Centre (new window) and sought help from a Small Business Field Officer.

"They really help you put steps in place to help you achieve your business plans. They give you information about things like tax and insurance."

Lauren used her network of friends and contacts to research her business.

"I visited many bookstores, both new and second-hand. I have some friends whose relatives own bookstores and they were very generous with their time and knowledge with me."

One of the most difficult things for Lauren was finding an appropriate shop front. There wasn't much available in Eaglehawk. She had her heart set on one shop, but the bond was too high and there were other conditions in the lease that didn't suit her so she waited.

"It took a bit longer than I expected to find the right place. I kept knocking on doors and trying to find the right place and someone to rent me a space."

It eventually worked out for her and she now runs her bookstore out of the office for the Eaglehawk Times.

The hardest part of running her business is the unpredictability of it all.

"You need to pay the bills and you need to pay the rent but you don't know much you're going to sell each week."

But Lauren really loves it.

"There's a real sense of achievement when you really care about what you're doing. It's a real community oriented place in Eaglehawk. I've joined the Eaglehawk Business Network which meets every couple of months. It's good because it shows you that you're not alone, you can feel like you're a part of a community."

For those of you with an interest in starting your own business, Lauren has the following advice:

"Do a lot of research and be realistic about what you can achieve and what you can invest in your business, both money and time. Give it a go. You never know until you try!"