Catherine: Why I Wrote a Book to Support Small Business Owners

Catherine Erdly is a small business and retail expert and the founder of The Resilient Retail Club. She is a graduate of the Hatch Accelerator programme and also mentors earlier-stage founders through our matching scheme. She has brought together all of her expertise and experience in a brand new book: Tame Your Tiger, how to stop your product business eating you alive.

Why I wrote a book

My first book, Tame Your Tiger, how to stop your product business eating you alive was published in February 2023, after over a year of intense behind the scenes work planning, writing and editing.  

I took part in the Hatch Accelerator programme back in 2021, and it was invaluable helping me identify how I wanted to grow and develop my business. I knew back then that writing a book was an important part of my mission to help more product businesses succeed, and access vital information to help them improve their business. So two years later, I’m delighted to share my book with you.

I wrote the book to help product business owners, whether an independent boutique, an online seller or indie maker, who would tell me that their business wasn’t making enough money and they didn’t know why.

I wanted something practical that I could hand over and say “here, read this” which would allow them to self-diagnose what was happening in their business.

I’ve taken 23 years of retail experience and distilled all of that knowledge into an accessible, easy to use book on how to make your product business more profitable. 

The book is based on my nearly two decades of experience in Merchandising within multi-million pound companies.

Merchandisers are highly numerate, looking at the key figures behind a retail business – sales, stock and profitability. However, they also get to work alongside the buyers and designers, so take a more strategic look at products.  

When it came time for me to leave the corporate world and pursue my own business, I was curious to find out whether or not these skills that I had spent nearly two decades honing would work for the small businesses that I was drawn to work with. I spent some time speaking with many of them, and what I found was fascinating.

Many people I spoke with had started their product business as a way of connecting with their creativity. 

Many of them had taken the time to educate themselves about running a small business, but what they had learnt was often generic advice rather than information aimed specifically at product businesses. 

As a result, as they grew, they often were not prepared for the complexities of maintaining profit in a product business. 

As it turned out, my experience with growing sales and profits for some of the biggest names on the high street was a perfect fit for what these business owners were lacking in their understanding. Over the last five years I have created courses, given talks and workshops, put out over 130 episodes of my podcast The Resilient Retail Game Plan and written thousands of words on how to plan and grow sales as well as look at profits.

I’ve always loved working with people to explain the key concepts behind growing a profitable business – I see my main mission as one of education.  I aim to help product business owners understand their own business – and learn to love their tigers.

Large retailers are constantly monitoring all of the key numbers that relate to these concepts. They are reviewing these on a weekly, if not a daily basis.  

Each month, I’d have to update the finance team with an estimate on the “in margin”, or the percentage profit that we were expecting our stock to hit that month.  

The slightest shift, or variation from the original forecast could have major implications for the bottom line of the company. I remember watching as the CFO in one company I worked for illustrated how a small fluctuation in our exchange rate, which made purchasing products from abroad that much more expensive, had just wiped millions of pounds of profit off the forecast bottom line for the business that year. These numbers are not just tracked to make interesting reading, they have real tangible implications.  

Stock was equally watched with the same hawk’s eye for attention to detail. We were given stock targets that we had to hit, no matter what. Suffice to say, merchandisers who didn’t keep to those stock targets did not last long.  

This is the world that I was immersed in for nearly two decades. A world that is highly governed by the numbers, with profitability kept in sharp focus.  

While I vastly prefer working with small and medium sized businesses, and find the passion, energy and innovation of this sector of the retail industry highly motivating, there are some aspects of the way that bigger businesses are run that small businesses could benefit from.

That’s really what I see my goal as with this book – taking some of those big business learnings and helping you apply them to your small business. The combination of small business passion and big business discipline is a powerful recipe for success.

My biggest wish for Tame Your Tiger is that it is genuinely useful to founders as they work on their product business.

About the author

Catherine Erdly is a small business and retail expert, and the founder of The Resilient Retail Club. She is a Forbes.com contributor on the subject of starting and scaling a product business, a judge of the Good Retail Awards, on the Editorial Board of Modern Retail, featured as an expert commenter on tv, newspapers and radio, and a frequent writer and speaker on the retail industry at various trade shows and industry-led events across the country.  She recently published her first book Tame Your Tiger – how to stop your product business eating you alive with Practical Inspiration Publishing.

She was also recently voted a top sales adviser in the UK by Enterprise Nation, and named one of the top 25 retail influencers in the UK. Catherine is passionate about how business can be a force for good, and was awarded the 2022 Charity Champion of the year by Work For Good.

Find Catherine on Instagram, @resilientretailclub

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