Meet Myles of Run Rug..
Myles Shaw formed his niche online flooring business www.carpetrunnersuk.co.uk in 2011 at 23 years of age after working in his father’s traditional flooring retail store since the age of 18.
The eCommerce business sells made to measure carpet runners for the hallway and stairs all over the world. Offering any length up to 30m long and over 500 different varieties and styles.
Currently operating in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, France & Germany under the runrug® brand, it is the largest of its kind in the world. Carpet Runners UK will soon be rebranding into the www.runrug.com brand.
Myles is also now the 3rd generation leader of his father’s long established (since 1945) retail store. The company now retails over £5m with sights of £10m by the end of 2021, mainly by focusing on international expansion.
1. Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?
It all started with my wife having our first child, Ava. At the time I was working for my father 6 days a week, 9am – 5pm. I was already over worked and underpaid. Working in a family business isn’t always the easiest.
My wife went on maternity leave and over a period of time her pay started to decrease on a sliding scale. It got to a point where we needed £100 extra a week to make ends meet.
As a newly found father, I felt the pressure and need to provide for my little family and so I started to think how I could find this extra money.
- I knew I couldn’t go to my father and ask for a pay rise….
- I knew I couldn’t go find another job (as I was a key part of the family business)…
- I knew I couldn’t get a night job as I’d have no life at all….
- I knew how to sell things on eBay!
So that was it, I would sell something on eBay. The plan would be that orders would come in throughout the day and I would process them at home during the evening. This way I would be able to keep everyone happy.
I started to sell sim cards for mobile phones at £1 a sim card. However I would spend lots of time wrapping them up in the evening only to make about 5p per sim card. I soon stopped selling these as I was not making any money and being a busy fool.
I then started selling car performance parts, which sold quite well, but I knew nothing about them technically. This posed an issue when buyers asked questions, so I stopped selling them.
I then remembered a saying from my father and that was to ‘specialise in what you specialise in’ – it made me realise that flooring was what I have known since the day I was born. Therefore, I set myself a challenge to find a product that wasn’t being sold online already and after some days of researching I found myself sat at my desk in the flooring shop staring at an old roll of carpet runner that was 30m long. I thought to myself, I wonder if anyone is selling this online and offering it in any length – turns out they weren’t. This meant it was either a rubbish idea or no one had thought about it. I took a photo of the runner, listed it on eBay and sold my first length of runner that night. I had sold 2 more the next day, and sold the entire roll by the end of the week. This generated a revenue of around £450 with a profit of £250. I was so happy.
I then found out where the old roll of runner came from in the UK and ordered it in the 5 other colours and put those on eBay too.
2. What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?
I didn’t really face many challenges bringing the product to market as I had an eBay account and the roll of carpet runner was just sitting there collecting dust and so I didn’t have any initial outlay to buy it. However in the very early stages these were the biggest challenges I faced: –
Finding the time. I was so busy during the day and so tired in the evenings. However, I would work until the early hours in the morning and not see my family to try and get the business off the ground by creating listings on eBay and then processing the sales in the evening to be sent the following day.
Getting good stock levels. I was selling so much, so fast – the only UK supplier was constantly out of stock and it was affecting my sales. I therefore had to fly to Europe to source it direct. By doing this, I sorted our stock issue out and also reduced our buying price which increased the margins.
Finding new products. As it was a niche concept, there were no suppliers of carpet runners on the roll in the UK (except the one with 1 design in 5 colours). I wanted to expand on the product range so that I could launch a website. Whilst I was in Europe I found more manufacturers that made carpet runners on the roll and I was able to expand on our offering.
Cash flow. I don’t know any new business that doesn’t suffer from this. I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do with regards to taking on new products but I had no money. I had to wait until I sold more products and then reinvest this money back into the company.
Understanding business. I didn’t know anything at all. I had started as a carpet fitter, then a sales person and now I was a ‘businessman’ but with little clue of what to do. I then began to learn about business (and I am still learning). I had a good mentor in my father.
3. Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?
I think good ideas come from having the ability to ‘hyper-focus’ on a subject, being logical and really understanding what you are looking to achieve with this ‘good idea’.
For example, if I wanted to ‘surprise’ my wife for our anniversary, I would think and think and think about multiple different options/scenarios. I would be constantly throwing ideas around in my head, some good, some awful. I would use sense and logic to compute which would be the best ‘surprise’ to go with. On the journey of finding the best ‘surprise’, I would use a simple process of elimination to ensure I get the best possible outcome.
I am inspired by other people’s success. I love seeing people do well and I love to see people change their life through their hard work. Dragons Den is a firm favourite of mine, this inspires me. Watching documentaries about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg inspire me. There is one film that really inspired me and I recommend it to anyone who needs motivating about never giving up – the Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. I’m not one to tear up at a film but this one nearly got me!
I just love to see people do well in life. There are too many people in this country that resent other people doing well.
4. What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?
Having evolved from a traditional family business that was formed in 1945, it is important that we stick to our high family values. This means that each customer is treated with the most extreme importance and respect. We ensure that customer satisfaction and customer experience is as good as possible. We really understand the value of keeping a customer happy and how this has a multiplier effect as time goes on.
Not only does the customer benefit from the family values but also so do our team. We understand that outside of work there are things that come up such as school plays, sports days, medical appointments, unforeseen circumstances. We therefore have a flexible working relationship with all the team and it is very much a case of working with the circumstance so that everyone is happy.
I see it as a simple equation. To run a successful company, you need to have happy customers. To get happy customers, your team need to be happy. For your team to be happy you need to work with them, not against them. The more you give your team, the more they will do for you.
An unhappy team = unhappy customers = less sales = less revenue = less profits
A happy team = happy customers = more sales = more revenue = more profits
5. What is next for your brand?
We move that fast I never know what I coming next. That is the beauty of being an independent business owner. You can move and change as quickly as you like.
We are currently focusing on our international expansion and this will fuel our growth for the coming years. Brexit has been an exciting opportunity for us and if it wasn’t for Brexit, we wouldn’t have even looked to trade internationally.
We are adding Augmented Reality to our website, allowing a customer to see how one of our bespoke products looks in their home. We are constantly looking at ways to try to improve the online customer experience as well as improve conversion rates and lowering bounce rates.
I guess the next biggest thing for our brand is to migrate our Carpet Runners UK brand into the runrug® brand. A site rebrand/migration is literally the last thing you want to be doing, especially when you have had a website for 8 plus years. However, we will be following a rigorous process to ensure there is little disruption to business continuity.
6. What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?
NEVER EVER GIVE UP!
Nothing worth having ever came easy, just remember that. The reason why you are finding it hard is because it’s not easy, it’s not easy because it’s worth having. How much do you want it? If you really want it, you will get it and not give up. Never forget your reason why you are doing what you are doing!
If running/starting a business was easy, then everyone would be a business owner and not work for anyone else. There is a reason why only a small percentage of the population are business owners.
Always believe in yourself, avoid negativity and give it ALL you possibly have.
7. What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?
Pen and paper. My god, I would be lost without these 2 things. If I have a task to do, I write it down. Once it is done, I cross it off the list. It works perfect for me and there is no other technology or software that I would rather use. My only issue is that I am putting more down on my to-do list than I am crossing off, this is due to an over active mind.
I find that I read a lot of articles on BBC news app. This gives me a really good picture of the retail climate, politics and just life in general. I don’t waste my time reading ‘fake news’ on social media.
I have signed up to HMRC and .gov.uk articles so that each week they will sent me newsletter updates about all things to do with business, from finance, to directors responsibilities to Brexit. It is all free of charge and really informative.
My eyes and ears are probably my best tool for running my business. Most people in the world don’t see what is around them and don’t listen as much as they should. I listen and observe everything that is around me, this keeps me alert and aware of things that are going on around the business on a day to day basis.
Finally, the most important 4 things that I rely on daily to remain productive….
- Health Eating
More info on Miles…
Brand Name: runrug®
LinkedIn handle: https://www.linkedin.com/company/carpetrunnersuk/about/
Twitter handle: @CarpetRunnersUK
Facebook handle: https://www.facebook.com/CarpetRunners/
Instagram handle: https://www.instagram.com/carpetrunnersuk/?hl=en