Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lessons In Failure

The old adage proves true, "If I'd have known a year ago what I know now...." Case in point: I started making soaps and candles as a hobby and as a means of giving inexpensive, personalized gifts to friends and family. When the demand and the interest grew, I decided to "open a business." It couldn't be that hard right? WRONG!!!! I didn't know I needed a plan and money-I'm not talking a few bucks either. I went into this thing so blindly that I'm still feeling my way to the light. Please learn from me. It can save you many sleepless nights and hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars:

  1. Develop a business plan: Research the industry you intend to jump into. What are the trends? the pitfalls? Who is your intended market base? Is your product something you can sell online and/or in a brick & mortar? Is it product- or service-based?
  2. Develop your product line before you begin ordering materials. Don't make the mistake of shopping or browsing and just buying stuff you think is cute or may be a hot seller. That's where research comes into play.
  3. Research vendors before ordering. Not all vendors are the same. Choose quality over quantity. Order in small quantities before making large purchases. I am so guilty of this! What looks good online can look like crap once you get it in the mail.
  4. If you plan to sell your goods or services online, secure your domain name early. I like because they are so user-friendly. Also, research web host providers before choosing one. In the year and a half that I've been online, I'm now on my 3rd provider. I'm currently with WahmShoppes because I like the ease of it, and I like all the tools they provide. Not all are the same. Do a little comparison shopping by visiting sites that you like. At the bottom of their home page should be their web host and quite possibly their graphics designer.
  5. VERY IMPORTANT: Make and sell something you love, and ask yourself: Would I buy this? If you love it and believe in it, it will not only show in the quality of your work, but your customers will appreciate your efforts, and they will be your best advertisement. When I started, I was making everything-soap, candles, bath bombs, lotions, shower gels....but the quality (I can say now) sucked because I was trying to keep up with the Joneses instead of focusing on what I really loved which was making soap and making candles. My bath bombs and lotions were okay, but I wouldn't have bought it if I were a paying customer.

So there you have it. Just 5 of my many lessons in failure. I don't consider myself a failure at all, but a student of this growing phenomenon called the small business owner. What are some of your hard lessons learned?


milk and cookeez said...

Oh the lessons I've learned. 1st one DO NOT order business cards until you know what you want out of them. I am on my 5th box-what a pain. Also think about your logo=it's your branding know what you really want-Im on my 3rd and hopefully final logo. Start small-I had to since $ was from our "extra" $. I am just now able to start increasing my line-especially after alot of research and trial and error.

The Soap Seduction said...

Great tips MC! I too have ordered about 5 different biz cards. I have yet to place another order because I don't want to act impulsively again.