As the first quarter of 2024 draws to a close, I wanted to put up a review of what has been going on so both for myself, and for others to understand what the life of a business owner can look like sometimes.

January – Review, Planning and Rocket Fuel

I always take the first week or two of January to conduct a full review of the previous year. As it happened, this year I was in Norway until the 7th for my father-in-law’s birthday, which gave me plenty of time to think about the year that had passed. 2023 was in many ways a very successful year for myself and for my company. At work we hit record revenue and profitability, have an awesome growth pipeline planned out across product and distribution, purchased an office and warehouse space, and held one hell of a Christmas party for everyone we know! Personally, similar vibes. Guro and I are happy, we bought a new apartment and got the reform underway before we move in, I completed UTMB in the summer, went on some awesome trips around the world and spent lots of time with family and friends. Really a good year all in all. But what comes after a good year? Well, planning for an even greater one! January is always about taking the time to look at what went well, what did not and plan on how you can put some rocket fuel behind your ideas.

What came out of the planning session this January was several goals. One, we will begin to expand our stores across Spain. Two, we will travel to China, meet our suppliers, and expand our product range. Three, we will grow our in-house team to meet the challenges that we are facing, pushing hard into the online space and wholesale. I think I would call this expansion mode!

Personally however, I have had a bit of a health issue with my eyes which has been a setback and is requiring ongoing treatment (first time I am experiencing something that I can’t fix with a week’s rest). It really is making me appreciate the importance of using your time well and of health being the number one thing in life. Without health, we have got nothing.

February – Keep the Ball Rolling

With all the planning and kick off in January, February is about keeping the momentum going. We all know the feeling, when you get into the gym (or for me when I am out running) in January, the place is full. Those new year’s resolutions are there and people are super motivated. But week after week those numbers start to thin out and people begin to forget why they started in the first place. These are the people who were fired by idea and motivation, not by genuine desire, as that is what keeps you moving. Well, February is very much like this, you need to be the person with desire, not motivation.

Having said the above, the month actually started with a ski trip to Chamonix for a week with a friend from school! It was a great time, enjoying the sun, snow and company! Week two however was straight back to work. Arriving home on the Sunday evening, starting a reform of our biggest stores on the Monday morning. The planning had been done in advance and it was only a modest refit, so within five days we had the bulk done and were able to re-open for the weekend. An intense week none-the-less!

From here it was focus onto product and systems. We are going through an implementation of an ERP for the business so spending lots of time talking to consultants about this and trying to get the system configured correctly. Alongside this, we have decided to try out hand in the clothing business alongside out existing homeware and gifts collections, so beginning to receive the first batches of items and adapting the stores for clothing sales was a key challenge. This is probably the largest change we have made in the past seven years to our product mix, so it promises to be a good challenge throughout the rest of the year and into 2025 as we struggle to get it right.

The month finished off with lots of on-site meetings at the new office we have bought for the company as this is also being reformed for our use. The works started towards the end of Feb and look like they will finish some time towards the end of April.

March – Lets Have Some Fun!

In March I had a couple of sporting events, the Barcelona Marathon and Birkebeiner cross country ski race in Norway. The marathon was enjoyable and I clocked a respectable 2.50h without too much training (I had struggled with a small Achilles issue before the race and generally had my training interrupted by all the drugs I was being given for my eye!). The ski race was hard, but one I’ve done before and so I knew what to expect. Still, skiing 54km uphill having done two training sessions is definitely not optimal prep!

Workwise the fun also began as we booked our first trip to China in April and took a trip to Valencia to begin scouting new store spaces. I think this is going to be our choice of city for our first out of Barcelona expansion given its proximity, the fact that it is cheaper to rent in than Madrid (and hence lower risk) as well as the fact that it is a large enough city to support several stores.

The month is closing with our first full time wholesale employee coming on board to push our B2B business, as well as good progress on the office and apartment. All in all, a great way to round off what traditionally is our sleepiest quarter! Looking forward to getting back to it after easter and enjoying the spring/summer sales season here in Barcelona!