THE 5 BEST THINGS I DID FOR MY BUSINESS: PART 2 July 18 2016, 1 Comment
Before reading this post, I recommend catching up with The 5 Best Things I Did for my Business Part 1.
That post was written nearly a year ago, and things have grown a fair bit since then so I thought it was worth an update. Part 1 was written just a short while after I'd started working full time on Little Nell, so it was about adapting my routine and getting used to working alone. Part 2 is about growing my brand, and learning from people far wiser than myself. (Rather than thinking I already know it all...)
6. FINDING A COMMUNITY
I'd like to say I've always found the creative community really warm and friendly, and for the most part, it has been. But there have definitely been moments when I felt like everyone else had a Twitter clique, and the internet can make it hard to tell who is your internet friend, and who is your actual friend. Recently I've joined a few closed Facebook groups set up for this exact thing. (And now I actually use Facebook again!) It's so lovely to find an encouraging place, which provides invaluable advice from people who've been exactly where I am, and have grown their business into something amazing. I feel hugely grateful that they make time to help people like me, and to see they're still learning too. Try searching for groups local to you, or linked to your most popular marketplace sites as a starting point.
7. TAKE A RISK
Heading to a Trade Show was definitely one of the riskiest things I've done for my business, and there are no guarantees it will work out. (You can read all about my experience here). I've been attending trade shows for about 8 years, but this was my first with Little Nell. Each show is different, and you never quite know how it's going to go, and it can be so easy to feel disheartened if you don't come back with a folder full of orders and contacts. But pushing yourself to take a calculated risk can be a really rewarding experience. It would have been really easy to not go, and happily keep plodding along in my comfort zone, but if you never try, you'll never know. So far, I'm really enjoying working with retailers, I'm sure part of it is the novelty of doing something new, but each time I get a new stockist it feels like a new Brownie badge, and I just want a really nice collection to sew onto my shirt.
And as costly as it is, I can never be too mad about the excuse to buy new furniture on the business account.
8. OPENING A ROYAL MAIL BUSINESS ACCOUNT
I feel a bit daft that I didn't do this sooner, but I just didn't know it existed. It was a bit of a faff setting things up, but things are so much easier now. I do all my own post online, then just drop off the bags at the Post Office. No more queuing up for all those international orders, or taking forever posting next day delivery purchases at Christmas... And it's cheaper. Win. Win.
9. BRANCHING OUT
If you're selling your products through sites that you don't own, then you don't have control, and they can make any changes they like which could be hugely detrimental to your business. (Which one HUGE marketplace recently did and left some sellers out of the job, and looking for a new career with very little warning). This is where I've been focussing my attention recently, branching out to retail, and working with some new carefully selected marketplaces. Being dependent on one channel was a really big concern for me when Little Nell became my sole income, and not only that, I felt it was leading me in a particular direction, that wasn't completely in line with the vision I had for my business. Which leads neatly onto my last point...
10. BALANCING CREATIVITY & COMMERCIALITY
I don't want to criticise marketplaces, because I think they're awesome and there is no way I'd be where I am now without them, but the downside was I found myself creating products to please them, hoping to be featured in their marketing, rather than creating the jewellery I really wanted to make. I find it a challenge to balance commercial success with creative satisfaction, and my best-selling products aren't always the ones I'm most proud of. Whilst I refuse to make jewellery that compromises on quality just because it might sell well, I also need to accept that there will be ranges I personally love, that just won't sell and need to be retired. It's getting a happy balance between the two and since branching out to work with a wider range of retailers and marketplaces, I've found a comfortable middle ground. My best selling range at retail is my worst selling one on notonthehighstreet.com. Different retailers have different target markets, and I'm so glad I took a risk of launching something different, because it paid off. Don't be disheartened if a range doesn't sell on a particular channel, it doesn't mean it's a flop, it just might be better suited elsewhere.