How did you start your business?
The best way we can sum it up: by learning something new each day and taking action to make things happen. The learning came in so many ways. From reading blogs, talking with others who have experience, Instagram DMs, attending conferences, mastermind groups, meetups, and also a lot of learning by doing. We've learned things that work well, and things we'll never do again. Each lesson learned has been extremely valuable, even though it's sometimes painful!
Today we continue learning because we have so much more we want to accomplish and grow!
When do we find the time to learn? Whenever we have a little time here and there! We squeeze it in during our morning coffee before work, after work, after putting the kids to bed, sometimes during lunch hour or over the weekend. We've had to be extremely good with time management and often trade relaxation time (sorry Bachelor in Paradise!) to spend time on our business.
There is no perfect roadmap for starting a business, so you have to find the motivation and squeeze in time to make learning and things happen. After reflecting on how we got started, here are a few recommendations we have based on learning by doing...
Funding your business:
If you don't already have a source of cash to start your business, consider launching a Kickstarter campaign. People who are interested in your project/product can pre-pay for it, allowing you to save enough to get going. Kickstarter does take a portion of the proceeds, but it is definitely worth it in our opinion, as you also get some marketing/advertisement for your project. We did this for our first production of our Chocolate Fit Whip flavor. Check it out here!
For all services surrounding your business, there will be multiple options to choose from and also multiple variations on pricing. Rather than signing up with the first option you come across, fanciest website or friendliest salesman, make sure you look into at least 3 companies and compare them on the most critical factors to your business. Do some research, too. Make sure you see promises in writing and that you're sent certificates you're interested in. Yes it takes longer, but in the end you may save significant money and find the right partner for you.
Warehousing and Shipping:
If you are selling physical goods online, we can tell you that Amazon is unmatched in shipping speed as well as warehousing and shipping prices. You can choose to sell from your own website (such as Shopify) and/or on Amazon. Yes, a portion of your sales goes to Amazon, however the costs for shipping as significantly lower than any other logistics service we have looked into, including if we shipped Fit Whip ourselves!
To use Amazon or not use Amazon? The great thing about it is that people love and trust Amazon, so setting your product up here is an easy way for them to get it. Consumers in the USA are comfortable with using Amazon, and often they have their shipping and payment info already entered, so it's incredibly easy to use.
The downside of Amazon? The customers are Amazon's customers, not yours. So, you don't receive any information about the customer that will allow you to reach out and provide offers or say thank you for the sale, which can be done with your online stores like Shopify. You can't notify Amazon customers about new product launches or tips for using your product. Also, Amazon takes a portion of the sales as commission (depends on the product), however the price to operate on Amazon is much less per month than Shopify. We are operating on both Amazon and Shopify at the moment, and once we have more experience under our belt, we will definitely share it with you!
Make connections with others!
No it is not easy to talk to strangers, especially when you face possible rejection or uninterest in the product you just poured your heart into…but you must do it. If you want others to talk about your product, you have to learn to do it, too. Find events or make appointments you can attend where you can talk about your business, learn from others and maybe even help someone else out! Alternatively, direct message (DM) others on Instagram, Facebook or email to make connections and start the collaboration. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the greater success you will have with spreading how awesome your product is!
Organization is incredible important! What was I supposed to post today? What awesome information did I learn from another entrepreneur? What are the pros & cons of the three manufacturing companies I am considering? Capture it all! Using Google Docs has helped us all stay on the same page and remember what we talked about/learned when we are spread thin in our careers, personal lives and business, and also living in three different states. Sharing docs is incredibly easy and the content is searchable, making it easy to find what you're looking for after you've started 500 docs… :)
If you have any questions on any of the above, or are wondering how to get stated in your business, just sent us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM us on social media. We'd love to exchange!