What I Learned Setting Up In Business
This is the 2nd installment of my personal posts (1st one here: I Love Mondays)
As I reflect on the past few months and look at the issues I’ve faced starting my business I realise a few things.
- You Can NEVER Do Enough Research
- Building it Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come
- Marketing is a Full-Time Job
- Things Change – QUICKLY
When I started I was REALLY careful about my research. I carefully vetted overseas companies before purchasing, I checked search engines to Make sure there were people searching for my product. I used strict Criteria When Deciding my branding and the products I would sell. I also set strict budgets for each section of my start-up, (e.g, equipment, website, stock, marketing).
Despite doing my homework I found out before I even started trading that I hadn’t done enough. I’ve learned to never assume that I know what a customer wants. I spent months with a web developer (who ran off with my money in the end) developing a tool that allowed people to design their own products online (with photos etc). There’s no denying there’s a market for this and it’s certainly something I need but I shouldn’t have waited for this before I started trading.
I believed I needed this in order to separate myself from the competition, and long term I still believe this. But I should have started marketing earlier rather than wait for perfection.
I also put a lot of though into my products. Should I focus on 1 good product range or give my customers a choice of all sorts?
Having spent the last few years working for Philips, I went with the “Core Competencies” option and settled on personalised phone cases.
As I mentioned, My web developer disappeared and took my entire website budget with him (more on that in another post). It then cost me my entire marketing budget to get a website I could trade with.
I was almost a year into my venture before I started trading and even then I wasn’t happy with my website and as an online business that’s a BIG deal. Sometimes I think this came across when I was pitching my products as I’d find myself saying negative things about it.
When I first decided to go with phone cases there was very little competition and as I have an SEO background I thought it would be an easy ride, but by the time I was ready to sell my products the playing field had turned premiere league. I found myself competing with Vistaprint, Boots, Photobox and huge array of other companies.
Core Competencies may work well for some but I had to increase my product range if I was going to get noticed.
Of course doing this would mean I have to re-brand the website. Having a lack of funds meant the only option was to have a go myself. If only I had the confidence to do it sooner.
Within 4 weeks I had the website you see today with it’s own online product designer, mobile responsive platform, and awesome animated slides. In total it cost me less than £100. When I consider I’ve spent over 30 times that on web developers I know that’s money down the pan and it really bites. But you have to accept it and move on.
Anyway – I now have my new products (I’m always looking for more of course) and I’ve re-branded to accommodate this.
Now I’m focused on just getting the word out there and getting some customers. In the next post I’ll talk about exactly what I’m doing to increase brand awareness without spending money.
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