Small Business: Taking the plunge - Leanne Pratt

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Leanne Pratty started her own tea business in 2007 after having a 'lightbulb' moment. Photo / Supplied
Leanne Pratty started her own tea business in 2007 after having a 'lightbulb' moment. Photo / Supplied

Leanne Pratt of Pratty's Tea talks to Gill South about taking the plunge and going into business.

I had been working for Blackmores for many years as a medical herbalist and naturopath. Like many people who start their own businesses, I had a 'lightbulb' moment about wanting to start my own tea business. I wanted to improve people's health in a pleasurable way using high quality great tasting tea, instead of just popping another pill.

My extensive research in NZ and internationally gave me an initial vision to create a retail experience beyond what most people were used to in NZ. Travelling extensively through Europe and America to research the tea scene, I met with various potential suppliers and put together an extensive business plan before I felt ready to leave full-time employment.

I moved to 'contract work' with Blackmores for two days a week (about six years ago) so that I could focus on creating my company, and it was from there that I took the leap and went full-time - how long ago?

The realisation hit that I couldn't move ahead with my dream unless I put full-time effort into it. We launched in September 2007.

It was lonely and scary at times trying to know if I was doing the right things in the right way without wasting money. We had some money saved but we have had to invest significant sums to get to where we are today. We are now very particular about where and how money gets spent in the business.

It's been only in the past six months after rebranding Aaah Tea into the brand new Pratty's Tea brand that this business has seen some return on its investment. Pratty's Tea specialises in teas that offer health benefits, including detox teas, breastfeeding teas, de-stressing teas and more.

Under its previous retail model, forecasts to break even within the first two years were on track until an unexpected pregnancy and subsequently having to employ a new manager were required. As for many small businesses, the recession didn't help either, forcing the decision to close the store after trading successfully for 2.5 years. and move to an online business.

Now with the new online/wholesale business; www.prattys.co.nz, the focus has been on cost reduction, learning about online marketing and driving sales. The new brand Prattys has given the entire business a completely new energy and a new drive and is already showing a lift in sales.

Some couples would never set up businesses together for fear of the pressure it would put on their marriage or personal relationship. But every day business entrepreneurs are doing it and surviving. Tell us your secrets of staying together while going through the daily pressures of running your own business. Email me, Gill South at the link below:

- NZ Herald

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