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Specialist Jewellery Shop or Generalist Gift Shop?

Small businesses thrive when they specialise. They fail when they generalise.

Trying to compete directly against big companies such as Marks and Spencer, Claire’s Accessories and Penny’s is a mistake that many new jewellery and accessory businesses make. They assume that just because women can buy all sorts of jewellery in one of the big brand name stores, that they should stock a similar variety in their tiny shop or stall. They assume that as women who buy necklaces in M&S might also buy scarves or handbags in M&S, that they too should carry these items, otherwise they’ll never be successful.

This is not true. Until you have a shop floor and a client base as large as Penny’s, until you have as many outlets as Claire’s Accessories, you have no place trying to compete with them on every level.

Where you can and should compete is in one, or maybe two specialist areas. Instead of being the shop who has something for everyone (an impossible task for a new startup), be the shop that has the best necklaces for fashion conscious women over the age of 30 in Guildford, or be the shop that has the funkiest bracelets in a university town like Cambridge or Canterbury.

Be the best at one thing, and invest all of your time, energy, and limited resources in making sure that the people who need to know that you are the best in that one thing, know it. Focus on nothing else — concentrate on your stock, your marketing, and on understanding the customer who wants that one thing you excel at.

If you do this, Marks and Spencers, Penny’s and Claire’s Accessories have no hope of matching you. How could they, when they invest so much time in being pretty good at everything? Companies like this have no time to focus on one small thing, nor do they want to.

And when you are the best at that one thing, when you’ve been in the local papers and on day time TV, when you have a healthy back balance and a dedicated and passionate customer base, that is the time to turn your head to something else, and to become the best at that as well.

Mid priced, fashionable costume jewellery today. Elegant watches and head wear tomorrow. Bridal jewellery the day after.

18 Mar 2014

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