Hi, my name is Dominic Poznanski and I’m the founder and director of Letterbox4you Limited, one of the leading suppliers of individual and communal letterboxes in United Kingdom. We sell directly to individual customers via our website, Ebay and Amazon but also working with large clients like construction companies and councils on the large apartments’ projects.
We have range of communal letterboxes ready in our warehouse in Buckinghamshire available for 24 hours delivery, but we often have projects where we work from scratch on designing the right solution, manufacturing it in our European factory and shipping final product directly to our client.
Our business has been growing fast since 2012 when I was starting on my own in a spare bedroom. We now have 7 people in our team plus several contractors externally. We moved out of my spare bedroom and outgrown my garden shed long time ago, currently occupying several thousands square feet of office and warehouse space. We have been growing by 50% rate during last 2 years and we are still projecting double digit growth during next few years.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I came to United Kingdom in 2005 with a very basic English. I was answering most of the questions with “yes” or “ok” accompanied by a big smile to ensure that a person I was talking to is convinced that I understand what they mean, of course very often I did not. I had no money and I had a credit card debt in Poland so I spend first year saving everything I could to pay my debt back. Despite the fact that I had a master degree from Poland I had to start from scratch because of my poor language skills. Since I was brought up to believe that I should be only ashamed of stealing I didn’t mind doing all kind of jobs including unblocking the drains and toilets in one of the hotels I was working for.
Surround yourself with right people and let them do the work. If they are truly right for your organisation, they will do the work better than you anyway.
After stint in retail sector I became frustrated when working for other people and not being able to influence and change the organisations I was working for in any meaningful way. Working on the store level or even head office level you are still limited to what you can say and do. I knew that only running my own business will let me set all the rules the way I want it. At the time I was dreaming of being a “trade agent” being a middleman and making small percentage on transactions between companies from Poland and United Kingdom.
I’ve came across many opportunities and many companies but only when I met our first manufacturers from Poland something clicked and felt right. They have put their trust in me and I’ve put my hard work to make it happen, step by step, month by month, year by year. My mantra was to be as knowledgeable about the products we sell as our partners so that we can advise our customers the same way our partners could. We wanted to be seen by our manufacturer not as their partner but almost as a part of their business. We now work with selected manufacturers from Poland, Italy, Czech Republic and United Kingdom and we still use the same principle to create successful relationships with every single one of them.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
I remember like it was yesterday when the first paypal notification came through to inform me that someone has just purchased a letterbox! Looking back I can see what a journey it was. From the spare bedroom I’ve expanded to every single corner of the house and the garden shed, I can tell you that my wife was not a happy person! My neighbours were also often amused seeing a crazy Polish guy receiving a pallet delivery in the front of the terraced house and offloading it manually in the rain (remember it is UK so it rains pretty much all the time). I have then decided to rent out additional storage space in our area to accommodate our stock.
Finally It was a big step of moving out of the house to a proper office with warehouse space. In meantime I also recruited my first employee! There are 7 of us now and we have external contractors helping with certain areas of the business. My plan was from the start to identify the things I’m not good at and outsource them or employ people who are better than me in doing the job. I always had a great believe that awesome people are around you and you just need to find them and give them a chance to shine. If you do it right you are almost there! One of the most important things was to set up the right culture and create good work atmosphere. It was really important to our business when we have finally settled on our core values:
- OK IS NOT ENOUGH
- PASSION IN ALL WE DO
- LEARNING MEANS GROWING
- CHANGES LEAD TO GREATNESS
- SUCCESS BUILT ON CONTRIBUTION
- FUN AND POSITIVITY STARTS WITH YOU
We are very serious about our core values and we do live by them. We assess potential candidates for the team based on how well they would fit within out culture and we review people’s performance based on it too.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Letterboxes is a very specific business. With individual customers once they have purchased their letterbox we will not see them again for 3-5 years. We do sell only high quality products made in Europe so their lifetime is longer than cheaper equivalent from China. Our margin is much lower than some of our competitors but we have decided at the very beginning that the quality rules over quantity. Our organic traffic grows steadily month on month and we increase our advertising budget in parallel to how fast our revenue is growing.
We concentrate mostly on Google Ads with our ROI around 5x. Depending on the product availability on our website we can go as high as 6x-7x during the best months. We do not use social media to advertise as such because it would be impossible to achieve reasonable ROI there. Simply not many people are going to Facebook or Instagram to look for their next post box.
Our large clients from the construction industry come back regularly and we have some of them returning to purchase again since 2012. There is no pattern to tell how frequently they will return; it depends on their size and scale of projects they are involved with. Some companies will have several apartment blocks on the go during the year and some of them will do only one a year. One of the fastest growing segments is the parcel boxes market. We already offer selection of individual parcel boxes like our SIGMA which is the first parcel box in UK suitable to be mounted on the gates and fences. There is ever growing demand for communal multi occupancy parcel boxes for apartments and offices and we actively developing new range of products addressed to this group of customers.
Our strategy for 2020 and beyond is to further expand our warehouse capacity and add more people to our sales and development team. Our ambition is to become number 1 supplier of letterboxes in United Kingdom with 24 hours delivery service available. Because of the Brexit we had to put our expansion in Ireland and Germany on the back burner but one of this market could become our target in 2020.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One thing I learned was to never give up and keep working hard on your business. I say “on” your business and not “in” your business because there were plenty of occasions when I realised that every time I lost the sight of the big picture I also missed some opportunities to grow our business faster and further.
Surround yourself with right people and let them do the work. If they are truly right for your organisation, they will do the work better than you anyway. Keep learning and don’t you ever think that you know it all. One of our core values is “Learning means growing” and all team members are encouraged to constantly learn and improve themselves.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We are using Wordpress and Woocommerce as our selling platform. We also sell on Ebay and Amazon with our inventory managed in Veeqo. To communicate within our team and manage our task and projects we use Asana and Slack. Pipedrive is our CRM of choice and all our applications are linked via API or Zapier. We constantly look around for new solutions and alternatives to make our business more efficient and effective.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are several but my advice is to read and listen as much as possible but only pick up the best gold nuggets from each of them. It is very common these days that people read one book or hear something in the podcast and immediately make it the most important part of their lives and businesses. I always look for things which feel right and are aligned with my business philosophy, my character and my vision. The books which left the lasting impressions are:
My favourite podcast:
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Do not wait until everything is perfectly ready. It will never be. One of our core values is “OK Is Not Enough” so we continuously working to improve things and we challenge ourselves to make things better. But if we have a choice to launch something imperfect or wait until is completely ready but weeks or months later, we will definitely launch as it is and improve it as we go. There is too many stories out there about entrepreneurs with great ideas which never became reality. Or rather they did but for someone else who made it happen quicker.
Where can we go to learn more?
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