Spotlight on Catherine Erdly
Here at Spotlight, we had the opportunity to chat with Catherine Erdly, Founder of The Resilient Retail Club. She spoke to us about why she started her own business and also told us about the best parts.
A background into you and your business?
My name’s Catherine Erdly and I’m the founder of The Resilient Retail Club which is my membership group for product-based businesses. I’m also a business mentor and a small business retail expert. I have been in the retail industry for 21 years and I spent 17 years in high street retailers before starting my own business in 2018.
The Big Idea
The business was really started because I knew I wanted to leave my corporate job, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to work with small businesses. I have a very specific set of skills and experience related to making creative ideas to make money. So this is everything to do with calculating your profits, looking at managing your stock or forecasting your sales which is what I had done for so many years in the big retailers. I wanted to see if this would be useful for small retailers and what I could do to help.
From that, I started consulting 1-2-1 but I knew I wanted to work with more businesses on a more affordable price point so I created courses and workshops. In May of last year in the height of the pandemic, I decided to start my membership group because I wanted to create a community for people who I could show up for on a regular basis. The community has now grown to over 350 members and I offer them a wide variety of information through courses, ask me anything sessions and workshops.
I would say that my biggest challenge really came around the time that I decided to leave my corporate job. I had worked my way up to a relatively senior position in a professional role, I’d spent 10 years as a full-time working mother. So I’d put in a lot of time and effort and made sacrifices to achieve what I had in my career but it was no longer satisfying me and in fact, I was very unhappy so I had to work out what to do next.
I never would have imagined that I would end up running my own business, I always saw myself being too risk-averse for that but I had to decide what to do as I knew I couldn’t keep carrying on the way that things were going because I was just miserable. That was probably one of the most challenging times and actually after I gave my notice to my job I felt very nervous and unsure about what I was doing. I thought I would feel better once I quit but because I was going into this without a clear plan of exactly what I was going to do next. It felt very daunting and so one of the biggest challenges was having the right mindset to carry myself into starting my own business.
I did a lot of work on my mindset. I listened to podcasts and audiobooks about being positive and focusing on what I was trying to achieve and spent a lot of time thinking about what I actually wanted my business to be like. What I wanted to do and who I wanted to help and that really helped me get focused and move forward.
Drive and Determination
For me, I am really passionate about helping people create businesses that actually support them financially. I have in my life experience what it's like to be both not financially secure as well as what it’s like to not have any flexibility. I worked in a very inflexible work environment where flexible working or supporting families and working parents really wasn’t a thing. So for me, I am really passionate about helping people start their own business but not just start their own business but start one that actually makes them money because we all start businesses to get freedom and freedom doesn’t come for free, so if I can help people get that clarity then that is really something that means a lot to me.
The biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way
The biggest lesson that I’ve learnt along the way is that you have to believe in yourself and you have to have an idea of where you are taking the business. But the key thing here is that you need to know what your definition of success is, not what somebody else’s definition is. I also think that listening to your gut is very important. The times I have made the biggest mistakes is usually when I knew intuitively that it was the wrong decision but I ignored it and did it anyway.
Advice to those wanting to start a business
Be prepared that the first year at least is going to be very tough from a cash flow perspective. I think anybody who expects to start a business and immediately be making sufficient money from it is going to be disappointed. I think whatever you need to set yourself up for then be prepared, don’t necessarily quit your job entirely, perhaps gradually move from a full-time role to a part-time role and eventually move to be full time in your business. I think that the myth that there is an easy way to grow is very misleading.
The best part of your job
The best part of my job is not having a boss and being able to make decisions about my own life and be more flexible. For example, when it’s the summer holidays not working as much, taking time out, being able to meet friends whenever I like. Being able to arrange my day the way that I want, is all so important to me.
I’m very excited about the membership, it’s only been going for just over a year but it’s already grown a lot and I’m really excited about moving it forward. The key thing for me is making sure that as I grow I keep the membership as a really useful resource for members and nobody feels lost in the shuffle. My main goal for the membership is to grow it at a manageable pace so that it doesn’t get too big too soon and that every member really understands how important and valued they are.
If you have found Catherine’s story interesting, be sure to keep up to date with The Resilient Retail Club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also, make sure to listen to Catherine’s podcast ‘The Resilient Retail Game Plan’.
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