Saturday, July 7

Do what you love...

...and

fabric from here / Stoff von hier
5 useful tips for small business owners
(online sellers)
  1. whether you sell a product or service online you obviously need to be passionate about it in order to be successful. Don't start up a jewelry/bag/scrapbook business just because it is the current trend - you need to understand the product and if you're not enthusiastic about it you will run out of ideas in no time. 
  2. Starting a small online business means making an investment. Calculate your costs and add 20%. Most newbies make the mistake of underestimating actual costs. For example, when I first started out suddenly the revised packaging ordinance meant additional fees towards the recycling of said packaging - costs which I didn't originally calculate into my budget.
  3. Get the word out about your product/service. Every so often I read the forums on handmade selling venues and other places where people write things like: "I don't want to appear pushy" or "I'm not into hard-sell". I cringe when I read these comments. Marketing is crucial to your business. You should spend at least 50% of your time on marketing. I regularly go out and distribute flyers, hang up posters and utilize social media sites. Ask your hairsalon if you may leave a stack of business cards at the reception. Blog about your product/service. Just remember not to talk/write about your business 24/7 - now that's being pushy ;-)
  4. Know your customers. This is tricky, because you will only really get to know them/their desires/their purchasing habits etc. once you've been in the business for a while. But you can plan ahead by figuring out which type of customer base you are going to market your product/service to. I sell 80% of my handmade items to USA. Long before that I cultivated friendships with people living in USA, studied their way of life, the different mentalities according to which state people live in...fascinating stuff! It's helped me a lot, both in satisfying my customers' expectations as well as providing reference points for the development of my product line.
  5. Be service-oriented. And that includes after-sales-service too! Get into the habit of answering inquiries straight away. If you don't the customer will just look and purchase elsewhere in the meantime! And even if you need to decline, do so as soon as possible. People like straight answers. One of my pet peeves is buying something (handmade) online and not receive any sort of communication from the seller. No thank you, no shipping notification, nothing. Sure, my item arrives - but it leaves me feeling slightly dissatisfied, because the whole buying experience was so impersonal. As an online seller you need to make it personal if you want customer loyalty. Everybody loves to feel special! 
I could go on and on about this subject, but that's it in a nutshell. The best of luck with your start-up and much success!!


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19 comments:

  1. Great tips and a beautiful blog!

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  2. Great tips. I struggle with the marketing part. I know I need to advertise my journals and art more but I fear that icky salesperson thing.
    I am linking to this post in Monday's newsletter.

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  3. Great post with some excellent tips!

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  4. Great tips Duni! I'm not good with the marketing either but I'm trying to improve! I'm curious as to what you learned about us USA folks! :)

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  5. Great advice. there certainly is a lot more involved than just making a product

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  6. These are great tips Duni! I agree about doing what you love! I couldn't work the long hours I do if I didn't enjoy my work :)
    And so true about customer service! It is a HUGE part of any business, especially small businesses!

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  7. Wonderful tips! I work in marketing, and I can tell you that you are spot on! And btw, I understand about you being worried about posting the award, but it made no difference to me I still would have given it to you! :)

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  8. Great tips, Duni! I agree with you about all of these points. I also agree with you about frustration with no communication from customers selling handmade items. People buy handmade because they are looking for that personal touch. It gives the business a bad name when not everyone upholds that.

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  9. I loved your tips. I do always put some extra special little additions into my customer's packages and always a hand written thank you note.

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  10. Very well said Duni! If I will be given the chance to teach Business Plan Writing, I will bookmark this post and have them read it.

    And I agree that more than quality product, the pre and after sales service really count. It provides the buyer the feeling that she is important and a priority to the seller.

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  11. fantastic advice duni. couldn't agree more about the marketing. 'if you build it they will come' only happnes in the field of dreams. you have to constantly beat the drum and let people know you're there and what you do.

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  12. dni, danke für die tollen tipps! vielleicht brauche ich sie ja auch mal :-) herzliche waldgrüße, dunja

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  13. VERY good advice! I like your customer service ideas. I think you really have to communicate with customers to make a difference. I'm not asking for the red-carpet treatment, but a quick email to let me know you got my order is great.

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  14. Super tipps, vielen Dank! That is the nice thing about buying hand-made, knowing who made it and maybe even becoming friends!
    hugs to you
    jutta

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  15. great tips! Making online purchases personal is so important. I received some glowing feedback in that regard recently. That just warms my heart and makes the business experience for me that much more pleasant.

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  16. Hello Duni, I like this post, it's so true! Without passion, the business cannot be sustainable in the long run.

    Hope all is well with you!

    Love, Su

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