So it’s been 1 year since my beta project, BADEBOX launched into a full grown business; the /ˈBÄDĒ/™ line by Amy Walker (www.badebox.com). Let me say the past year has been hard, exciting, deflating and joyous all at the same time. As I’m typing I am trying my hardest not to just spew everything at you because this roller coaster ride has been amazing. I want you to collect the little gems I’ve learned along the way and watch out for the pitfalls. So let me break this up into 4M’s: Marketing, Management, Money and Me. Let’s go!
Marketing: If no one knows you exist then you’re dead before you’ve even begun. I used all the free marketing that was available to me: Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Blog, Website, Pinterest, Facebook, word of mouth, flyers and free samples. I found that word of mouth, the company website, Instagram. Twitter and Facebook was my strongest marketing tools. My Twitter account landed me on Anderson Coopers Show, so never underestimate the power of free social media. The challenge came in keeping all these sites uniquely updated with new product details and relevant content. This seemed like a full time job within itself. I needed to be cognizant of key words, my html coding skills were in demand and product placement and great photograph skills were mandatory. I struggled. Not only did I need to be able to do all of these things, I needed to do it weeks before the product was available to actually “market” it to the public. Moving forward I plan to consider paid advertising and see what results they yield.
What I’ve learned: Link all my social sites together to automatically update each other. Apps like Hootsuite lets you update several sites from one app. I’ve documented what products were in demand and when so I can market them in advance to meet consumer demand. None of my online accounts are where I want them to be aesthetically, but for right now they work! I’m using what works for me right now until the next step. It will never be perfect, its all a work in progress.
Management: Building my company meant grassroots beginnings. So I value the customers that I’m able to touch and feel. I established myself at a prominent farmers market, known for buyers looking for fresh vegetables, meats, greenery and organic products. My line fits perfectly into this space. On a weekly basis I receive real time feedback about what works and what don’t and what products customers would like to see. #takemyfoolishadvice the major advantage of running a small business is the ability to adapt and change as needed. This is a huge cost saving and marketing attribute that larger companies have a hard time doing. I manage what is developed by the seasons and inquiries I receive. Inventory is monitored closely and products using similar ingredients are grouped together. The challenge: This was our first year and judging what products would do well and when was difficult. Plenty of times we ran out of products and had to wait for back-listed orders to be filled. This proved to be very costly. This year we’ll use last year’s number to project what needs to be made.
Managing my time was a complete headache. I worked 6 days a week every week, I made products twice a week after work and opened my booth at the farmers market every Sunday. Marketing materials was made and printed on my lunch breaks or usually at 4:00 am before work. By the time summer came around, my schedule had taken a toll on my mind and body. I was extremely happy with the demand but really had no idea of the time it would demand. I pushed through and when my body said stop. I stopped.
Money: The goal of every business is to make a profit. Before I started my business, I planned. I started my business with my own seed money and every dollar I made I put back into the business. Since this was our first year, I focused more on our profit margins as opposed to our profit goal amount. Merchandise with the highest profit margins were marketed more. I bought quality ingredients in bulk from top of the line suppliers. I’m a great saver but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t a lost. Some of the supplies I purchased for packing or marketing looked great but it wasn’t practical for my business. I originally purchased 500 jars to package my body scrubs. Problem was they were not spill proof. Not only did I have to replace the product, I also had a garage full of these jars. Huge amount of overhead dollars down the drain and I have more stories just like this.
What I learned: I buy package materials in small numbers to try them out. My local craft store, Walmart and online boutiques have been great for supplying my needs. Once I’m happy with the look and feel, I purchase in bulk. I like for my products to look expensive and luxurious but I don’t want to pass this cost off to my customers so I clip coupons or purchase items on sale. This also helps me keep the prices of each product steady.
Me: There were parts of me that I knew were there but still never knew existed. Do you follow me? I knew there was a savvy business woman inside of me but she never stepped out when I wanted her to so I began to think she was a figment of my imagination. She wasn’t. I really stretched myself last year. I forced myself outside of my comfort zone, into tight space, walked in open fields filled with opportunity and over what felt like land mines into the unknown. It was liberating, scary, rewarding and essential to my very being. I cultivated new relationships, negotiated like a boss, provided excellent customer service and resources for my customers, failed and got back up again plus more. I also exercised my faith; I prayed continuously and still consult with God about every development. Most importantly I was a witness to my son that as a single mom, mommy is go getter, a reach out and figure it out type of woman, a no excuse having boss, a leader, a dreamer turned visionary turned executor, a creator, a builder, the person that may not be able to outsmart you but will win anyway because I will out work you. He saw a fighter, a person that kept producing and kept moving and reinventing when needed. I made him proud. In all my years of planning for this business, I never anticipated that. He was and still is my daily encouragement. I can’t stop now, I can’t lose; I have already won!
#takemyfoolishadvice start where you are simply put one foot in front of the other. There may never be the perfect time; just crawl then walk then run, before you know it you’ll be flying.