So someone recently asked me how to go about starting a business and my thoughts on the whole sha-bang. I really wasn't sure what to say at the time because 1) I don't think I'm a pro or even been in this "game" long enough to be handing out personal advice and 2) I've learned EVERYTHING from trial and error with a combination of googling everything (and I mean everything). A while back I wrote a post about the things people don't tell you before starting a business. But I'll do my best to give some of my own personal tips on how to turn your vision into reality. So if you are not into business and/or have no desire to start one..my bad..I'll be sure to return to my random thoughts tomorrow.1. First off, your business should be something you are truly passionate about. Like something you could see yourself doing even if you didn't get paid to do it. If you hate animals why would you open up a pet store? Get what I'm saying?
2. Pick a name. Something that is meaningful to you and your brand, versatile and easy for people to pronounce. Nothing is worse than naming your business lets say for example "Sally's Bracelets" and then later on down the line you decide to sell scarfs. Think about your long term goals and the possibility of things changing.
3. Be sure to file all appropriate forms. In other words make your business legit. Decide whether you want to file as an LLC, sole-proprietorship or corporation. If you are selling actual products be sure to find out how much you should be charging for tax in your state and how often you have to pay those taxes to the Department of Revenue. ForNC residents, this site breaks down everything that you may need and where to access it and they also have a hotline where you can call and speak with a business counselor.
4. Take time to plan out your brand.`Meaning your logo, website, packaging, brand message, etc. I've changed the Eclectic Star logo 3 times in under two years due to lack of planning. Think about your message, your target audience and what best fits your products and services. AND YOU NEED A WEBSITE. Its 2014, people. You can purchase a .com for $1.99 through GoDaddy (just Google promo codes). Make sure if your business name isn't available be sure to get something very close.
5. Start small. Don't be like me and go order a ton of supplies not knowing if anyone would even be interested in your products. Trust me on this.
6. NETWORK, Pin, Tweet and Facebook your ass off. (and create business accounts for each social network you will be apart of) I started off slow because I let my shy-ness get in the way of talking about my business and the things I was interested in. BIG MISTAKE! You won't get anywhere if no one even knows what you do or who you are. Start building relationships with people that have similar interests in you and are apart of your target audience. The quote "Success begins outside of your comfort zone" (i think) is the TRUTH. Also build up anticipation before you launch. Give your potential customers just enough information to make them wan't more.
7. Set up some type of budget system. This is the part of starting a business that I'm sure no one enjoys. But you go into business to make some money, so you need to keep track of how much is coming in and how much is going out. And you will need a record of all of that once tax time rolls around.
Other random tips..I'd say READ EVERYTHING! Being a business owner is forever a learning process and things are always changing. Also be prepared to do it all yourself in the beginning (unless you are blessed with help or extra $$ to hire help) If you have any questions or have something to add feel free to email me or leave it in the comment section! I also have a Pinterest board FULL of different business tips that have helped me a lot.
Now meet one of my good friends and new business owner, Ashley! She just opened her own Etsy shop called itsSEN!
What made you wan't to open your own Etsy shop? And how did you come up with your business name?
I decided to open my own etsy shop mainly due to numerous people requesting me to recreate various items that I created for myself. My business derived from my love for the whole "play on words" idea. I wanted to take a word that holds a negative connotation and make it into something positive and memorable. Thus creating SEN. It's an acronym that has personal meaning, which I will reveal at a later date :)
What inspires your work?
My inspiration often varies. I may see something that I like and don't want to spend the money on therefore I end up recreating something with my special touch added to it. I also find myself making use of items that I may have lying around. My bottle cap earrings came from me specifically wanting "bottle cap earrings" but not wanting the ones that dangle. So I went to a craft store & picked up a few select items and viola! Bottle cap earring studs.
When you are not creating what can you be found doing?
Other than creating you can find me thrifting, reading fashion blogs, watching youtube tutorials like it's television, working, writing, out eating at various restaurants ( which actually is my 2nd fav pastime) and/or playing candy crush.
What else may we expect to see from itsSEN?
Other things that you can expect from my shop, itsSEN would be clothing which is in its near future, more accessories & other items that are overpriced in the stores, that I will make sure are appropriately priced for the quality and the buyer.