When business owners get a great idea, they can easily jump into too many tasks at once.
Geoffrey Gray is one of those business owners. His great idea was for a footwear testing service, which he named Heeluxe. And although he fell into that common trap of trying to do too much, he was able to overcome it and build a successful business.
Read more about his journey and Heeluxe’s services in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does
Providing objective research to footwear brands.
Gray, Owner of Heeluxe and Brother Small Business Advisory Panelist says:
“Our innovative, on-body testing replicates how the shoes are used in the ‘real world’. The results from this testing provide the shoe developer with the strengths and weaknesses of their product versus the competition.”
Providing results quickly.
Heeluxe provides objective testing results in two weeks or less, which can help footwear brands stay on their development timelines. Gray explains:
“Most footwear research takes place in academic institutions, where studies take 12-24 months to complete. We recognized that footwear brands needed results quickly during the development of new shoes, so we developed systems to make the testing meet their time needs.”
How the Business Got Started
Because of a desire to help more people.
“I was working as a Physical Therapist that specialized in foot and ankle rehab and taking care of professional athletes. I loved my job but realized I could only help 20 people a day. By helping brands make more comfortable and better performance shoes, I am able to help tens of thousands of people have healthier feet every day.”
Don’t take on too many tasks.
“I used to have a bad habit of taking on too many tasks, and not spending enough time on nurturing new business. Apparently I’m not the only one who made that mistake – according to Brother’s Small Business Survey released in 2015, taking on too many roles and responsibility is a habit that a whopping 35% of business owners admit to doing. When I was finally able to kick that bad habit, business boomed and Heeluxe achieved our biggest “win” of signing six new contracts in just over one month.”
Moving into an official office space.
In the business’s early days, Gray subleased space for Heeluxe within a friend’s gym. The team did most of its work during the gym’s off hours in order to keep costs low. But as both Heeluxe and the gym grew, the need for an official office space did as well. So Gray took the risk even though it cost more than he would like to have spent. He says:
“The office was a powerful sign to one of our larger clients and they saw how much better we could serve them in the new space. I was able to sign a new, larger contract with them 2 months later and we’ve been in this space ever since. The office has allowed us to be more innovative with our testing and the companies we work with love to come visit. For me, driving up to a building with my business’s name on it is a huge motivator every morning as well.”
How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000
Building new technologies.
“Heeluxe is always trying to build new or better systems to serve our customer’s needs and a cash infusion would help build our new technologies. Right now we are building a “shoe robot” that can simulate 3 months of shoe wear in 3 days and 1 year of wear in a week.”
If the Business Were an Album
Radiohead’s OK Computer album.
“Ahead of its time while still easy to approach.”
“The man who is busy copying the work of others has no time to be original for himself” – Salvatore Ferragamo, Gray’s admitted “shoe hero”.
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