5 Lessons Learned After My First Month In Business
This post was written after the first month in business of my first venture and leather goods company, daph.
30 days. A month. 1/12 of a year. That’s how long you’ve been able to enjoy and discover daph. Through the past year in preparation for the big launch I learned a lot of things about business and myself, but I had no idea I’d learn so much so quickly post launch.
5 lessons learned so far…
Be patient. This has been a common theme since I first started daph. and I’m thinking it will forever be true. Whether it is waiting for quotes, actual merchandise or sales to come in, patience is key. I’ve heard horror stories where someone has been live for 6 months with NO SALES. While I am lucky enough to have avoided that fate, I’d be lying if I said I don’t check my store visits about 13 times a day to see if any new sales have come in. On days without sales, it’s a bummer, but it also reminds me that I have to be patient. On average it takes about three store visits for a customer to actually make a purchase so the waiting game is something I’ve perfected.
Ensure Quality Assurance. Trusting in your manufacturer and other business resources is important, but it is also gained and grown over time. I chose my manufacturer for several reasons and based the decision on providing durable, authentic, polished and handmade products to my customers. BUT that does not mean I don’t tug, pull, tighten and check every product before it is sent out. After all it is my name on the brand (literally). Of course, everyone treats their goods with different levels of care and there are bound to be (unfortunately) some lemons in every batch, but I learned quickly that I should test all products firsthand before sending them out. When the zipper didn’t zip correctly or the stitching was loose, I had to categorize those products as “defective” (sounds so bad but very true!) and not for sale. This is a necessary step to maintain my brand and keep my customers satisfied. That is when I need to build on the relationship by working with my manufacturer to come up with a solution to perfect the process to maintain the quality standards of the daph. brand. I’ve even picked up some leather making skills in the process!
I package all the goods themselves and include a personalized thank you card with each and every purchase and I always welcome customers for their feedback. After all, that’s just how you improve your brand even more!
Be Persistent. This one should come as no surprise for any entrepreneur. Living the lifelong lesson “when one door closes another one opens”, persistency is key in growing daph. The major lesson has come in the form of ads. Who would have thought that online advertising would be so complicated and time consuming?!? Needless to say, it’s been a process! Creating unique eye-grabbing ads, following all the rules and picking the right photographs for the ad types, there’s been a learning curve and I’ve learned TONS. Spending hours creating ads and seeing the real-time results, clicks, impressions has peaked my curiosity and even though I’ve wanted to rip my head off at times, I’ve kept going. How else am I going to ever attract the fashion influencers if I don’t advertise on Google or create the perfect interactive Facebook ad?!
When I do get discouraged, I take a break and do something to clear my mind; whether it is cooking, working on my food blog (shameless plug here: thechompblog.com), go to Pilates or just call up a family member to clear my head and remind me that it will all be okay. Just getting my mind off of the challenges for awhile lets me come back rejuvenated and newly motivated next time. But I never quit, not when I’ve come this far.
Know what to pay for. This is a lesson that was so big, I wrote a whole blog post about it! Check it out. Moral of the post: There are essential resources I am no expert in that I know I need to invest funds in while there are others that I can teach myself, have an interest in and happen to be free online. Think apps like Planoly, Mailchimp, and Playable. And finally, friends and family. Seems to be a common trend in my blog, right? But it’s true, free edits, honest feedback and free advertisement? Oh, and they love me? That helps too.
Be ready for change. I’ve touched on this before but, it’s worth repeating. I’m a planner and a scheduler, but there have been many times when the plan gets thrown out the window and I’ve grown to accept that. Things won’t be delivered on time, digital malfunctions will happen, sometimes Google doesn’t approve all your ads, or you invest in an ad that got zero interactions. It’s rare when something goes exactly as planned so you don’t freak out, you just adjust. In the end as long as my goal gets accomplished and I learn something on the way that’s all that matters to me. There are days when I have a list of twenty things to accomplish but end up spending four hours on the phone with support about item 3 on the list, an poof! everything gets moved to tomorrow which already has twenty things on it! Instead of getting overwhelmed I prioritize, re-organize and focus on the goal. Being malleable is essential for the continued success of your business and your own personal growth.
This post focuses on the launch of a product-based e-commerce brand, but these lessons may apply to the start up of any type of business. Please note that these are reflections of my own experiences and are in no way confirmed to work for all types of businesses.