Nearly 6 years ago now Steel Town Cycles began in my garage. The concept being to offer a flexible mobile mechanic service. This was to be a baptism by fire. Like many who start a business I was full of passion and drive to make this earn a contribution to the household income. Having left a well paid job in 3-6 months I’d run out of my savings. How naive I was. It would be several years before I could pay myself. An advisor would later say to me 3-5 years before you can pay yourself a salary.
I have asked myself many times in the last 6 months if I made a good decision? Of course it’s not as straightforward as that. As many self employed people will tell you. Following that dream on passion alone will not always have the result you can see in your mind. The jury is still deliberating on that question. Of course without the passion and drive your dream won’t come to fruition.
The planning is the step I impatiently passed over. Many of my self employed colleagues have just grimaced. No business plan…..no business right. It’s so much more complicated than that. I’ve had some, but very little business support. You see that’s the other thing if you don’t have a plan then no bank will give you money to start. I like many used my limited savings with the thought that I would replace it once I’d started to earn. My blogs are usually about my cycling experiences and not really about the journey of Steel Town Cycles.
I am Jonathan. I am Steel Town Cycles, one day it will be my son Alex’s. When a client chooses to work with me, they get more than a corporate trained face of that large chain or bigger shop. I’d like to thank those who have became my clients wether it’s once a year or several times a month. You are all important. You all keep the dream evolving. Some of the best cycle shops I went into as a kid and adult were one shop. Not even a small chain. They were mostly family operated with very few staff if any. I am that one shop. I set up in a town that already had 2 shops because I thought I could do it differently. Not necessarily better, just different.
I started as a service, repair and custom builds shop offering advice and accessories. Again I set up in my new home in a stand-alone garage. Still no business plan. No understanding of budgets, advertising and buying. Flying by the seat of my pants. Many would have thrown in the towel, but the thing is I’m actually very good at this. I don’t want to let go of the dream. What I’ve learned about self employment I’ve largely learned myself through trial and error. As the shop owner and technician I am responsible for everything. From making the tea, sweeping the floor and everything in between.
STC have already had one dalliance into selling bikes. These were excellent kids bikes designed in the UK and well thought out. My son has had 2 and he’s still on his second Squish bike.
Due to restrictions in the space we had Steel Town Cycles relocated to our new home at Unit 4, 25-27 Derwent Street, Blackhill, Consett. DH8 8LR. Once again Steel Town Cycles have new bikes for Sale Uk designed Claud Butler and Dawes Cycles. Custom builds using the Excellent UK brand Kinesis for Gravel and Road bike builds.
I’m trying to offer more as well as the already established Service,Repair and Upgrades. “If you build it they will come” if only this was still the case. The reality is that changing what you are known for takes time, money and effort. Add to that the effect that coronavirus and brexit had on the economy and it wouldn’t be asking a lot to think is this the wrong time. People don’t visit shops like they used to, so how do I encourage them to but bikes for me. That’s the question I need to answer.
Jonathan is a Cytech Level 2 trained cycle technician, Bosch eBike systems trained, Shimano Di2 and Steps eBike systems.