I started my first business back in 2010 with 3 children under 5 and no knowledge of every running a business, I dived in feet first opened a retail store, managed a website, handled all advertising, marketing, promotions, buying, selling, customer service and accounts. I had three staff and it ran for a few years before costs got too much, but In that period I learnt an awful lot about business and each of the areas of business, so here is my advice for starting your own enterprise.
- Find your Passion
I think this is the most important as you need something you are passionate about or at least a little interested in because otherwise you may find it a chore. It would also be a good idea to find something you are good at and tie it in with that, for example you have good photography skills become a photographer; you like cake then open a cake shop. If you have a passion for chocolate and cakes don’t try starting a business in betting and gambling because if you aren’t interested in those it will show. My passion is property, finance and business so I have to write more about these in the next few months and learn more about each. This blog is mainly about parenting and my journey through the trials and tribulations about that because it is what I know. I have 4 kids, they seem to be thriving and part of that essentially must be down to me so my advice here is write about what you know, make your business what you know.
2. Bricks and Mortar or Online
It is important to decide whether you want to do a bricks and mortar shop or whether you want to be solely online. Bricks and mortar doesn’t always have to be a standalone shop. It can be a street food seller, a wedding focused business or even a market small or trader that attends markets and events. You need to factor up all the costs of say a marque, tables, stocks, equipment to lay out your stock for displays, banners and advertising materials and then your research into which events and venues will be best for your business. This can be a trial and error that is learnt over time, you may do really well at one event or your physical shop may trade better at a certain time or day but make sure you market it well and let people know where you are. A physical shop needs to have a good location, where people are visiting to get passing traffic so considering location when you purchase a building or start signing 12 month contracts.
You have your business name and an aim for your business, you know what you want to do, you can see the path clearly, you know where you are and you have the equipment so it should be easy right?! Well, No, because at the moment no one knows about you, essentially you are in the middle of a field with a little table wondering why no one is buying from you. Let us start with networking – Attend networking events, build links to create other stalls around you in the field, people who can recommend you when people are looking for your products and services and people to bounce ideas off. The next step can be to create your social media following, create profiles on all available medias, add free directory listings to all online directories and spend some time creating your portfolio on each. Once you have created your social media profiles share interesting and relevant images and information, consider a blog to help your business website in order to blog about the industry so for example are you in the wedding industry, attend Wedding industry shows and events and get inspiration, blog about these, post pictures and give people information and advice.
The next step is to network and engage. Social media wants you to engage with your followers, don’t just post your content and leave it, customer service now is all about engaging, helping your customers solve a problem or gain something they need. If you are selling wedding invitations for example, then network with others in the wedding industry like DJ’s or sweet tree creators, even venues could be networked with on Twitter or linkedin to build your connections so the next time brides are talking to their photographer and they mention invitations or whatever they think of you first. Build your network of people, encourage your followers to share your pictures, tag themselves in competitions you run and build your followers and engagement.
5. Non stop PR
PR is great, essentially free advertising, although it does have a cost and that is time. It can be easier to get into local newspapers with a catchy title and a good story, for example if you are starting a new venture like a new relaxation garden through a social enterprise and this will be good for mental wellbeing, try and link your hook to a recent newstory, so if weight loss is getting discussed in the press your new weight loss product might be really helpful and beneficial. If you have won a competition and it is related to the business talk about that. If you are a mum creating a new soft play centre link that to the need for soft play and somewhere for mums to go. You can also use the press about yourself – If you are a mum creating a business because of problems with childcare costs tell that story on the radio or in the news or even magazines, get in touch with PR people and journalists who usually post on social media about what case studies they are looking for and be one of those. The media can create hype for your business as well just never stop trying to promote your business, the more you promote the more interest you create and the more people that know about your business.
Just remember the above take time to build, so be patient. Also know that some businesses just won’t work out and that is fine also, at least you tried and you won’t spend the next ten years wondering “What if I had tried that?”.