Paul Clark, Owner MyPad
What makes you spring out of bed in the morning?
Being praised for a job well done is a constant thread —and believing in the work I do. I absolutely love working in MyPad and it’s an interest and a passion as well as a means to earn a living. It just drives and motivates me. I’ve never used an alarm clock and I am one of those really annoying people who wake up and in my head, the lights are on immediately!
I train (regularly) with an ex-pro boxer – so that tends to get me going at 7am.
What does your normal day look like?
Pretty hectic – no days are the same and there is no real pattern to the day.
The showroom opens at 10am which is where I’m based, although I normally get in between 8.00 – 8.30am depending on my workload. I love being at the sharp end of the sale so tend to be on the floor most of the time. We run a tight ship and keep costs down to pass on value to the client.
In between sales, I can be doing all manner of jobs involving marketing, social media, buying, ranging, looking at future opportunities – plus developing our website. We are currently looking at opportunities to expand via the franchise route which is very exciting.
I seldom do lunch or stop during the day, but we close at 5pm. Although the showroom is closed, the business continues which means I am constantly monitoring what is going on with the site and the sales via my iPhone, much to my family’s annoyance.
How did you get to where you are today?
Through hard work mainly and taking chances. I am certainly not an academic, but I have held a number of senior management roles in retail in the UK and CI and also have fronted Nightclubs and Bars in the North East.
MyPad came about through an idea generated with a friend after I had left the Channel Islands Co-op. I knew that the future of retail was online but needed a push, and leaving a safe secure job was a massive gamble.
At the start it was a man and a van with our monthly turnover being the equivalent to what I would now describe as a very poor mornings sales – so we have really progressed rapidly.
We looked at the business and focused on areas that other retailers were not looking at. Our weakness became our strength – so for example, out of hour deliveries were created as a USP, when it was due to my son being the only one who could help me at 5pm and on a Saturday as he worked full time in finance. I could not afford to employ a driver’s mate at that point.
What couldn’t you live your life without?
In this order …..
My wife Shani who nearly had a cardiac arrest when I told her I had left the Co-op; my 4 kids who have been a huge support; my iPhone (had to get that in as I’d be lost without it), and Sunderland AFC – who although are exasperating, l could not be without!
Which outsiders (professional services, investors, mentors, family etc.) have been most important to the success of your business?
The most important person who although not being a mentor but a role model is my Father –an absolute legend. He is now 79 years old, but is fit and still looking to work. He works for himself and has been in the building industry all his life. He has respect from everyone I have ever met – I am incredibly proud of him.
From a working mentor position – I have to say that Roy Bishko the South African who brought niche retailing to the High Street with Tie Rack. He was a retail genius, crazy at times, but was inspirational and allowed me to develop my own style within the parameters of his business.
Every Saturday night I was expected to collect the store sales figures from around the country and call him with my thoughts before 7pm – that was my opportunity to discuss where I felt the business was going and the issues we had – great steep learning curve.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When we started MyPad none of the main banks would go near the business due to initially being online only and they were nervous of our ability to make it work. They were very negative and quite dismissive to begin with.
However, with the support of one manager from one bank, we managed to open a business account – however with no overdraft, no support nor loans available to us.
Plus, to make matters worse the majority of the suppliers did not wish to support online only – so it was very difficult to get the brands we wanted.
So, with no financial support and no product –this made it quite difficult to get sales!!
What advice would you give to your younger self before embarking on your business journey?
Never take no for an answer and never give up. If you get knocked down – pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the race. Work hard and lead by example. Be adventurous and daring – but not stupid. Last and not least – LISTEN.