Blue Eyed Sun

Blue Eyed Sun - gorgeous greetings cards

The Importance of Taking on New Challenges

Taking On New ChallengesIt easy to stay safe in life and to avoid taking on new challenges. We can often become complacent, especially when we are scared of failing, getting hurt or losing what we already have. The truth is: change is inevitable. Even if we do nothing, we can still fail, get hurt and lose everything.

To be successful in business and make the most of life you have to get comfortable with taking on new challenges. You have to get used to the difficulties, the unknowns and the pain. You almost need to look forward to them so that it becomes habitual and forces you to grow. 

I currently have four new challenges that are testing my comfort zone:

The Giftware Association

I am honoured to have been elected as the new chairman of the GA. It's a trade organisation founded in 1947 with a rich history of contribution to the heart of our industry. Most famously it birthed Spring Fair and Autumn Fair as well as creating the ever popular Gift of the Year Awards. I'm excited to be working with our new deputy chairman, Henri Davis, and our new vice-chairman, Gert Schyberg, our experienced team of dedicated volunteers on the National Committee, our knowledgable BATF board, our talented Chief Executive, Sarah Ward, and our hard working in-house GA Team.

Our challenge is to continue to drive active member engagement and grow membership numbers. Improving our website, our blog, enhancing our social media activity and updating our CRM system will all help. As will increasing the number of members paying by direct debit or standing order to reduce wasted time chasing outstanding payments. If you are a member, you can assist us by automating your payments to enable the team to spend more time helping you and other members. You can also help by keeping us informed of the issues that matter most to you and what you need in your business right now. We are here for you, please do engage with us.

To take on this challenge I will be drawing on the strengths of the GA team, the board, our members and National Committee members to help drive forward the changes needed. This will stretch my comfort zone as I will also be doubling the number of work days I currently have committed to the GA. The fact that we have such an excellent group of people involved is inspiring. 

The Gobi Desert

I have spent the past six months learning how to ride a motorbike, gaining my license, training on an off road KTM bike and improving my physical fitness in order to take part in a 1,500 km enduro motorbike ride across the Gobi Desert. The trip with friends is self funded and supported.

I am raising funds for the Christina Noble Foundation, which helps street children in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city in the world with temperatures dropping to-30°C in the winter and destitute children living in appalling conditions in sewers and air conditioning ducts just to try and keep warm. All of my own challenges pale in significance to what these kids have to endure. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do to help them with the funds we raise. If you’d like to be involved see the link below.

My journey to Mongolia has not been without its challenges. First I had to overcome my fear motorbikes. My grandfather was left disabled my motorbike accident in his late teens. As a teenager myself, the first and only time I got on a motorbike I crashed it within 10 minutes of hiring it and then crashed twice on the way to the hospital to get myself stitched back together. I was terrified the day I took my CBT (certificate of basic training) in January. With practice I have  learned to love riding a motorbike, and I really love off-road dirt biking. 

Everything about this challenge has stretched my comfort zone, physically and mentally. Recently, I suffered a further set back by fracturing my wrist during training. Making this trip be about something more than me drives me to complete my journey there. I also cannot wait to see the stars in the desert at night. Having a purpose and goal that excites me has kept me going, even through the difficult times.

Help street children in Mongolia by clicking here

BambooCups

For years I have advised new publishers I mentor to avoid tying up their cash in giftware products and to focus on higher margin greeting cards. This year I have ignored my advice by signing an exclusive distribution deal for chic.mic’s BambooCup in the UK and Ireland. We relaunched the products in April and that they have been selling extremely well. We’ve also had a huge amount of interest from multiples across the UK and Ireland.

I'm passionate about environmental and socially conscious products and am thrilled to be selling what I believe to be the finest reusable bamboo cup on the UK market containing the highest concentration of bamboo fibre, the best selection of designs and topped with a patented bamboo lid. 

With lower profit margins and an alternative distribution model to greeting cards I am faced with a new set of challenges. Aside from the obvious financial and cash flow implications, I'm having to learn a lot about eco-friendly products and the giftware market. It's also forcing me to take a long hard look at our current sales model to figure out the most effective solutions for reaching our customers.

In the long run, making difficult decisions and learning new things will have a positive effect on my own personal development and our business as a whole. It stretches our team, opens new doors and it helps us to grow beyond what we would've achieved just selling cards. It's also exciting to be part of a fast-growing product category in retail right now.

Greeting Cards

Speaking to my more experienced colleagues in the card industry at PG Live, this year sounds like one of the most challenging ever in the greeting card market. Despite many companies creating exceptional work, competition is fierce and plenty of publishers and retailers are struggling.

One of our biggest challenges as publishers is the delicate balance between creating work that we love and producing cards that sell. In an ideal world there would be beautiful synergy between the two. Unfortunately, and I find disappointingly, it is not always the case that cards we love to create necessarily sell that well.

In a difficult environment it's essential to create the best greeting cards on the market. This is no easy task and there are no guarantees. What worked before may not do so any more. And yet one cannot do nothing. The market requires constant innovation and new product. This still presents opportunities. I'm excited about our fresh new Biscuit range of cards lunching in DP 1 at Home & Gift and I'm currently working on an exciting new socially conscious card project for 2019.

I am starting to work with more designers in order to increase our chances of success with new ranges that are different and still commercial (the holy grail of card publishing). We have excellent distribution and make a great partner. I am also looking at import opportunities, licensing deals and other partnerships to grow our card sales.

Again this is stretching my comfort zone as I have to learn to develop bestselling cards with other designers after so many years of working with one in-house designer. As well as new opportunities, new partnerships will present new challenges and new unknowns. I'm excited about these new ventures and what unknowns they will bring.

Mindset 

If you want to overcome adversity and triumph over new obstacles and challenges you have to alter your mindset. You need to find ways of seeing past the difficulties rather than spending all your time looking at them. It's useless to you and those around you to complain about how difficult things are. At its simplest level just focus on the first step forward. Take a deep breath and take the step. With each following step you will grow stronger.

Read more on the Giftware Association here

Learn more about Jeremy's Gobi Desert Enduro

Stock BambooCup in your store 

Meet our fresh new card range called Biscuit