There’s so many things I wish I’d know when we set up our small business, AMWRAP.
No one goes into setting up their own business imagining it won’t be instantly successful. You love your product, which is new and different. But when it launches, it doesn’t have the impact you thought it would. Sales are slow, social media is quiet … what’s going wrong?
If I had my time again there are definitely things I would do differently. So here are my top tips for starting your own independent business:
1. Set up your own website from the get-go
We launched AMWRAP with a pop up shop at a CrossFit competition and for the first six months touted our wares at similar kind of events. We also set up a store on the online marketplace Etsy.
What we should have done was focused our attention online by creating our own online store. Etsy is great but we were effectively driving traffic to someone else’s website, where they could easily become distracted or find an alternative product sold by another maker.
It was 6 months before we set up our Shopify store and this was a huge missed opportunity to capture data from the get-go. We also missed out on Facebook pixel data and Google Analytics.
2. Don’t rely on organic growth
I thought we could build a massive following through our organic, free social media activity. We didn’t. The best way to get seen is paying for social media advertising on Instagram and Facebook. This has grown our following and sales exponentially.
Paid ads are not a silver bullet. They still need to be well thought through, properly targeted and have great copy and creative (as well as that working pixel!) Check out point 5 for my recommendations for the best people in the biz to help you with this stuff.
3. Capture email addresses from the start
When we had our ill-fated pop up shops at the start of our business journey, we decided not to capture email addresses from people. Six months later when we set up our own website, we didn’t bother. It was another YEAR before we realised the value of capturing this data.
Far from being an outdated marketing strategy that people don’t want and just instantly unsubscribe from, email marketing is a fantastic way to sell to people who are interested in your products.
I would highly recommend using Klaviyo for your email marketing – it is a super easy way to set up automated ‘flows’ (for example to welcome customers, for customer birthdays and for people who have become unengaged) and to send campaign emails too. I am a total email marketing convert!
4. Start with a small, simple product range
I can’t tell you how many times Kirsty and I have said “OK, we need to stop making new stuff and start selling the stuff we’ve got” and then half an hour later we’re chatting new product ideas.
Coming up with the ideas and new designs is the fun bit. Selling them is harder. So we naturally default to the fun part and neglect the fact that we actually need to sell some stuff.
This is still definitely a work in progress. We have just launched a ton of new products… but this time we are going to concentrate on selling them!
5. Learn and get help
We couldn’t have moved to the more optimistic place we are at now without seeking the advice and support of a few key marketing industry players. Invest in your learning and knowledge. Don’t just wildly stab in the dark – find a course and learn how to do it properly. It will save you time and money in the long run.
There are many agencies now targeted at small indie businesses that don’t cost the earth – many have membership schemes and wonderful supportive communities that are worth every penny. Here are our top picks:
- The E-Com Growth Hub Masterminded by e-com legend Amanda Perry, the E-Com Growth Hub has been invaluable for us. As well as an online course, they have multiple calls with experts every single day! Whether you need help with your online ads, PR, social media, email marketing, Shopify, mindset, copy and creative, finances… you name it, they cover it. @ecomgrowthhub
- Glow and Glow with Vix Meldrew I’ve only just discovered Vix and her online membership community Grow and Glow, and I am about to embark on her new ‘Insta Rebel’ challenge. Vix is led by what really drives Instagram engagement and debunks a lot of myths and preconceptions. It’s all no nonsense, straight to the point, value driven content. @groglow.co
- PR Dispatch Rosie Davies-Smith’s agency PR Dispatch is an affordable PR database and support service for small independent businesses and I am so glad to have discovered them. I did a workshop with Rosie recently and it was 100% pure gold… They recognize that small businesses are time poor and that PR is often left at the bottom of the to-do list. I’m definitely planning to sign up with them over the coming weeks in the lead up to Christmas to finally kick-start some PR coverage. @prdispatch
I hope those tips have been helpful to you if you’re just starting out, or planning to start your own business. If you have any questions, fire away! You can comment here or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have your own business, let us know your top tips!