My First Year In Business
I have been running my business for a year now - time flies! It's been a year of learning that's for sure, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
And here's what I have learned...
Don't neglect the website!
This is my first blog post in over a year. My day job is all about the web so I really should know better and not fall in to the trap which is the cardinal sin of having an out of date website. I update my social media channels on a near daily basis - it's so easy, a quick snap on the phone and it's done. The website has sadly lacked any attention. I aim to rectify this by doing at least weekly blog posts about what I'm working on - even if it's just a few lines about my latest products with some all important pictures.
Craft fairs are a waste of my time!
Admittedly I have only done 4 markets, however, I don't like them and I don't make any money at them! All that time to travel/setup/pack-up, and then to stand around for hours in a freezing hall making small talk is not my idea of fun. So, although each fayre was more successful than the last, I am not attempting them anymore. I'll stick to what I am good at - which is online sales!
Etsy is my friend!
Ok, so I've only made 36 sales in a year, an average of 3 a month, but I am ecstatic about this. When the phone app makes the little "cher-ching" sound when a sale comes in - I get VERY happy! Remember, these are strangers that are buying my stuff, not family and friends making a pity purchase - no, these are real life people parting with their hard earned cash for my products! I seriously love Etsy - so easy to use, really useful tools and makes me feel all proper grown up with a proper online shop! Even though I only actually have 18 items in there at the mo!
Facebook sale events work!
So after a disastrous Christmas Fayre I had a lot of stock to shift, so I thought I would setup a Facebook Sale Event. It worked amazingly well and I sold most of my items. The moral of this story is to try new things and see how you get on. I set up a FB event, invited all my friends and asked them to spread the word. Then for one hour only I posted various sale posts along with little games (eg post a pic of your Christmas Tree) to earn discounts. I had visions of me twiddling my thumbs for an hour if no-one engaged - but I actually had to put down my glass of red and concentrate on tracking all the orders coming in. I've done a couple since and both have been successful. Well worth the effort.
Don't delay dealing with the paperwork!
I've got a bag of receipts in my workroom/junk room that is mounting up. I need to deal with it. I'm procrastinating by writing this blog post instead! I must get organised and specify an evening a week when I deal with all the boring side of the business.
I need to be validated!
This is seriously sad, but I get a little high when I get a review, or a positive comment on a pic on my social channels. I think it probably says a lot about my psyche - but I genuinely do need to be told I'm doing a good job!
People rarely leave reviews!
This is so frustrating, but I totally understand it. 36 Etsy sales but only 10 reviews, many off-line and FB sales, but only 11 Facebook reviews - on the plus side they are ALL 5 star reviews - yay go me! I always ask or put a little note in the packaging asking people to leave reviews and share their products in situ on social media and stress how important reviews are for small start-ups like mine. People rarely do though, and I understand, I was probably quite guilty of this is the past too (but I always leave reviews now). It's not only great for the business, but reviews help the purchaser to make a decision too.
Have great customer service
I strive to always keep the customer informed and reply asap to any messages. I want them to feel like they are getting personal treatment (which they are) and that their custom is important to me (because it genuinely is). However there is always going to be a glitch or two where something doesn't go as smoothly as you'd hoped. This has happened twice this year. Once when the parcel was not delivered and returned to me and once when a customer wasn't happy with design. Express service with a different courier sorted one issue, and the other customer was happy with her product in the flesh, and just didn't like the picture I sent her. Both of these customers left me 5* reviews which I am very thankful for. It could have been a very different story if I'd have handled it differently. So - be calm, patient, helpful and you can turn a negative into a positive outcome.
The Taxman Cometh!
Now I've been in business a year - I better get cracking on that tax return!