Havering Local Business’ Simon Ford hosted a question and answer session with one of the borough’s most successful business men Luke Stocks from Zacal, the cat collar retailer.
Simon spoke to him about the key to his success and what his future plans are to expand his business even further.
Q1. How did you get into running a company like yours?
A. I sort of ‘fell’ into selling Pet Supplies. I began selling different products on Amazon to ‘test the water’ and see what sells best. One of the products were Cat Collars and they started selling really well, so I decided to invest into more. I then went on to set up my own Website (www.zacal.co.uk) where now I sell a range of over 200 different designs, as well as smaller collars that fit Kittens.
Q2. Is running your own business just like you had imagined?
A. Growing up I always wanted to be a Police Officer, I actually went to college to study Public Services but inwardly I always had a burning desire to be my own boss, making decisions rather than following them.
Q3. Best advice on you can give a young person starting out in business?
A. Hard Work. Dedication. Focus. – These 3 things are crucial. I started my business with just £50 in my pocket, it wasn’t a lot of money but what I do have is a willingness, a lot of hard work, dedication, focus and over the years I’ve sacrificed many things.
Q4. What is the best advice you heard or you had been given?
A. There are three things that for me are the most important.
Surround yourself with positive people, get people with negative minds out of your life. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you get back up again.
Don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t go to for advice.
Q5. Who inspires you the most Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Elon Musk?
A. Alan Sugar. I don’t watch much TV at all, but I did recently watch a TV programme where Piers Morgan was interviewing Alan Sugar and it was fascinating.
The whole way through it my girlfriend was liking things he had done in his successful career to the mindset I had.
Q6. Is your business a job or a passion?
A. A Passion. You’ve got to love what you do, if you don’t you’ll have no motivation or reason to get up in the morning. I’m actually currently away on holiday at the moment. The whole family have gone swimming and then out for the day and I’ve stayed back, working. I just love it!
Q7. If you could speak to your younger self, just starting out, what advice would you give him?
A. Good question. The two bits of advice I would have given myself when I was younger: 1. Don’t listen to others. Make your own decisions and take responsibility for any consequences. 2. Take risks, but calculated Risks. (The saying is so true, ‘the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward’)
Q8. Your views on going green
A. I feel it is important, but I’m also a realist and realise it’s not an overnight fix. Unfortunately, it will take time and I believe a change of mindset for it to happen.
Q9. Your best form of advertising?
A. Google & Social Media
Q10. Whats best for your business Google or Facebook?
A. In terms of Sales – Google
In terms of Brand Awareness – Facebook. Word of mouth is the best form of business and social media is great for that.
If you provide a great service, that customer becomes a ‘regular customer’. They then tell their friends, they then order and tell friends and it continues.
Q11. Your 5 year plan?
A. Within the next 3 years I plan to not just ship our products all over the world but to be the WORLD’S #1 Cat Collar Retailer.
My 5 year plan is to establish another one, possibly two businesses, running alongside my current business.
Thank you to Luke Stocks from Zacal for his Q&A