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Growing pains

Growing pains

Posted on: June 16, 2014
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Sherwood Park entrepreneur Jacqueline Jacek talks about leaving her comfort zone and shares the 10% rule.

5 quick hits from Jacqueline

My business in 3 words: Fashionable fine chocolate.

Leadership style: Enabler of talents.

3 things I love about my day: Creativity, chocolate, and the people I work with.

My business is: My first born.

Why Alberta? The opportunity here is limitless.

I started JACEK Chocolate Couture from a small 150-square-foot kitchen in my basement, always with the intention of opening a commercial studio and eventually more locations. Being risk-averse (not all entrepreneurs embrace risk!), I wanted to test the market for my collection of chocolates before committing to commercial space and leaving the security of full-time employment.

One-and-a-half years later, we were squeezed in the basement kitchen and our sales were increasing, so I had a decision to make: either we stall or we grow. Naturally, growth was the only option, but all of the unknowns were still very scary.

In an effort to feel comfortable about expansion, I spoke with other business owners to get an understanding of their growth strategies and learned a very interesting ratio: your rent cost should not exceed 10% of your revenue. Interesting. This provided me with the budget for commercial space, and I went from there.

Fast forward another year and a half and we are opening a second retail location on one of my personal favourite areas of Edmonton, the 104th Street Promenade. Having signed a commercial lease once before, opening another location didn’t seem quite as scary. However, the challenge this time was the investment required for high-traffic retail space.

I made the decision to expand purely by running the numbers to understand our breakeven point, and I used the 10% rule above to understand the revenue required to make the expansion feasible long term. Once I was comfortable with the financial forecast for the new location, I went over it with my banker to get feedback, which proved to be invaluable.

In business, there are never any guarantees, but I feel like if I surround myself with advisors who believe in me and my vision for the company, this makes growth and risk seem a lot less overwhelming. Arlene Dickenson says it best in her book All In: “You need to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable.”