Need a gift? Chocolate makes you fat, flowers die quickly, wine is expensive. You need SPIKE!
Spike Cacti is the brainchild of Jonny Williams - The Chamber’s youngest member at just 10 years old.
We spoke to Jonny about Cacti, Dragons’ Den, his business strategy, and his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs - both young and old.
Interviewer: Hi Jonny, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me. I appreciate you’ve probably had a long day at school. Was it a successful day?
Jonny: Yes, it was, thank you!
Interviewer: So Jonny, let’s get straight into it. What inspired you to set up your own business?
Jonny: Well I was actually inspired by the TV programme Dragons’ Den and I wanted to be like the business owners on there. I thought, if I start it when I’m young this can carry on and grow as I get older.
Interviewer: Fantastic. But why cacti?
Jonny: I bought a cactus and I knew that to make money, I would have to sell it for a little bit more. The thing is with cacti is that they grow slightly over time, so I could always sell it for a little bit more as it got bigger. Also, cacti don’t have an expiry date unlike food or other perishable items.
Interviewer: A great business mindset. Do you find you have a lot of competition? Cacti and succulents seem to be very trendy at the moment.
Jonny: I found some cacti the other day in a shop on the Harpenden high street, but they were selling them for about £4 more than me.
Interviewer: I guess that by operating online, you have the privilege of not having to pay for all of the overheads of a shop, so you can undercut your competitors. Do you solely sell online?
Jonny: I mainly sell to friends and family that come to the house, so while it is a lot cheaper and I have a lot less outgoings, people don’t just wander into the house as they would in a shop.
Interviewer: I see. Hopefully, by doing this interview we can generate a little more interest in your business and get some traffic to your site.
Jonny: Thank you so much!
Interviewer: You do have a great website though, Jonny. Did you create this yourself?
Jonny: My brother is a lot more tech-savvy than me, so he designed the website, but we used Wix.com to actually make it. This is a free website builder which anyone can use.
Interviewer: I think that will be very helpful to our readers, thank you. Do you have a lot of help from your family?
Jonny: My mum helps me with the computer finances and my dad prints my posters and signs at home free of charge for me. My sister is very artistic too and she created some lovely signs using her calligraphy skills. My mum and her friend also helped with wrapping some deliveries using some lovely tissue paper.
Interviewer: So it’s like a joint family effort, calling on the skills of everyone?
Jonny: Yes. I was reading a book once about business and in it, the second most wealthy entrepreneur, Bill Gates, said ‘don’t be greedy’. He explained that you can start up a business alone but if you have the opportunity of partnering with someone who can bring additional expertise and experience then always take it. Even if it means splitting the profits, as they might be able to help you make more in the long-run.
Interviewer: I guess that takes us back to the premise of that TV programme, Dragons’ Den. You can’t put a price on knowledge and experience!
Jonny: Yes, and that’s why the Chamber is so good. They don’t ask for shares but they offer you advice and support to grow your business.
Interviewer: That's a great observation. So I understand you have been offered an honorary membership by the Chamber - how are you finding it?
Jonny: I had not heard of a Chamber of Commerce before but the meeting I had with them was one of my best business experiences so far.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful! Finally, what advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?
Jonny: I would say don't make the mistake I made by finding one deal and settling. Always do your research and negotiate where you can because I kept on looking and found a much cheaper supplier.
Interviewer: What about someone older who wants to start their own business? Someone who might be worried it’s too late?
Jonny: I don’t think it’s ever too late or too early to start up a business. Obviously, someone older will have more experience and spare money. Whereas someone younger can just start things on a smaller scale, like me.
Interviewer: That’s great advice, Jonny. Right, I think you have answered most of my questions. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jonny: Oh, please can I talk about the charity I donate to?
Interviewer: Of course!
Jonny: So, there is a Christian charity called Vuyiroli in India set up by a man in Chennai where they help all of the abandoned old people get off the streets by giving them food, shelter, and a teaching them lessons of value that help turn their lives around. I donate half of all my profits to this charity. It’s an amazing charity!
Interviewer: How amazing! Jonny, it’s been wonderful speaking with you, thank you so much for your time.
Jonny: Thank you very much.
A cactus would make a great Christmas gift. As we said, they’re right on trend at the moment. Check out SpikeCacti online.
If you would like to learn more about the charity, Vuyiroli, that Jonny is supporting, visit: https://vuyiroli.org/en-gb/