by Carrie Andreas and Stacy Hayden | Featured Contributors
We started our business in the summer of 2013 from an idea we had while on a playdate with our children. We knew that we wanted to combine social media and shopping – two of our favorite things. Neither of us have a background in marketing or business, so we knew going in that we would have a lot to learn. We did not have anyone to help us and, therefore, we are happy to be given the opportunity to share our experience with other women to hopefully give them some insight and direction or at least learn from some of our mistakes.
Here are some of our tips for turning your idea into a business:
*Find your market. It is so important to identify your ideal customer up front and determine how they will find value in your product or service. Do your research and know who your target audience will be, where they are hanging out on-line and how you can get in front of them.
*Take the time to develop a business plan. While we did create a business plan when we first started our business, we did not take enough time to fully develop it. Take time to fully develop a plan that includes how your product or service will be created, marketed and sold to your customers. From there you can identify your ideal audience and who your competitors will be. This will be a key factor in identifying your basic strategies moving forward.
Don’t be afraid to change directions once your business has launched. You may find out that changes need to take place in order for you to increase your revenue. About a year into our business, we realized that we had been focused on trying to sell a style of necklace that is not necessarily for an everyday outfit. We decided to change our focus to selling more everyday wear necklaces at a more affordable rate, rather than focusing on statement necklaces that were set at a higher price point. Having a plan will allow you to know what your success looks like and what your objectives are.
*Know your competitors. We always stay on top of what our competitors are doing and what is and is not working for them. When starting out, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed with how to go about marketing, selling, and connecting with your audience, among many other things. Constantly monitoring your competitors will aide you in finding strategies to connect with your audience and reinsure you of your efforts.
*Put your idea out there to family and friends and get feedback. If the reaction is positive, it will give you that boost of confidence that you need to move forward. If the reaction is negative, maybe consider tweaking or changing direction. Once you are set with your product or service, try offering it out in small batches for an initial introduction to see how it goes over. When we first started, we decided to have a flash sale on Facebook, offering around 100 vintage pieces of jewelry for sale. We told ourselves that if this first sale went over well, then we would move ahead at full force with starting our business. In that first sale, we sold almost 90% of our inventory. After that sale we felt confident in moving forward.
Our first two years of business have really been a trial and error period. We feel like we really did just throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. We truly believe that feeling lost and/or overwhelmed is simply part of the process. There’s no reward in life without risk, so don’t be afraid to believe in yourself and take the risk!
Carrie Andreas and Stacy Hayden are the co-owners of the on-line vintage jewelry boutique, CS Gems. They scour the Midwest and handpick beautiful vintage jewelry at estate sales, yard sales, flea markets and auctions. Their motto is to “make vintage modern” by mixing their vintage pieces with today’s latest fashion trends. They use their fashion blog and social media accounts to highlight their vintage finds with hot new trends.
They have been friends since junior high and decided to go into business together in 2013. Neither Carrie nor Stacy come from a marketing or business background, therefore, they have researched all avenues to teach themselves the ins and outs of running a business. They are learning to navigate the business world while juggling being moms to two young children each. They are committed to learning and love the opportunity they have been given to share their experience in starting up a small business with others.
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