The thought of opening a shop, just never appealed to me. There are too many factors involved. For example: location, foot-flow, Stock, Storage, security, lease, rents and rates etc. I always knew that my doll business would be online. After all, how hard could it be. I’ll send my website link to all my friends and they would send it to their friends etc and soon the sales would come flooding in right? Wrong! Nothing could be more further from the truth. For the first couple of weeks I got quite a bit of “Congratulations”; “Well Done”; “Way to go” and then there was silence.
It then dawned on me that I didn’t have a clue how to progress this business online. Yes there were some well-known online market places that could reach more people than I ever could. However, I did not want them to be the main vein to my business growth. I needed to learn about social media and making an online presence, being visible. This side of the business was becoming way too technical and complicated for me. I just wanted to focus on the creative side of the business. I was being taken way out of my ‘new’ comfort zone and to be fully up to speed with social media etc just became overwhelming. However, my partner, mentor and a support network turned out to be a significant source of strength for me. They helped me to break down tasks into manageable bite sized chunks. Bit by bit I am making inroads into social media and my progress is slow but steady.
My partner registered to attend a Pop Up Business Course, he gained some useful hints and tips for starting your own business some of which we immediately implemented. A marketplace was organised for all attendees to showcase their products. We decided to make that our launch day. Nothing like a deadline to get you prepared and organised. The dolls were dressed in their finery, I had presentation boxes and stickers. We arrived at the venue and setup our stall. We stood there all day and had pleasant conversations with people who liked the dolls. However, we made only one sale. On reflection, it was realised that I could have been better prepared and also made some silly mistakes. There was a lot of interest from shoppers but I had no: business cards, brochures or leaflets and my website was not launched and basically ‘work in progress’. People may not have wanted to buy at that precise moment but I gave nothing for them to peruse at their pleasure. Therefore, I missed out on potential sales.
Two weeks ago my friend and mentor arranged for me to showcase the dolls at another venue. This event was designed for women in business. On this occasion, I was more prepared. I had a banner, business cards, brochures and also a summer collection of styles. The feedback from attendees was heart-warming. There was a discussion session which meant I had to take the mic and talk about my journey and the dolls. Public speaking is not my forte. However, after taking a deep breath, I took the mic and did what needed to done…I spoke…from the heart, truthfully and frankly and received positive feedback in return. Not only did I generate sales from this event but more business opportunities.
Marketing is essential to the sustained growth of any business. People need to know of your presence and that you exist, they also want to know your story. I have learned that growth does not happen overnight. I still have much to learn and some of you will have a lot to learn too. I now get a buzz when faced with new challenges because this is now an opportunity for me to learn something new. Enjoy the ride.