Since everyone wants a business that booms, not busts, I get emails regularly from people asking how to boom in the beauty business. A business is as distinct as a fingerprint, so one-on-one or group coaching is best to address individual details.
Since I lead the Indie Beauty Network, many of the requests I get are from people in the beauty industry. But since many of the issues faced by starts ups are the same no matter what, I offer these Ten Things to those who have sent me emails, and especially for Lebogang in Sandton, South Africa!
Ten Things is a high level overview and doesn't get "down and dirty" like we would do one-on-one or in group coaching. But these Ten Things will help, especially if you are doing everything yourself with no outside funding and your business is mainly online.
1. Choose your business name wisely. Don't pick a name that someone else is using and don't feel compelled to name your business for your childhood dog. Choose a unique name so your products are easily distinguished, and try to get the corresponding dot com.
2. Launch with a small product line. Don't try to compete with Bath and Body Works from your kitchen. Select a small line of coordinated products aimed squarely at people you know will buy them. This builds your brand and generates the profits you need to expand.
3. Use clear, concise product photos. Scent sells, but since your website smells like titanium, you need good pictures. Use a digital camera to take pictures of your products. They don't have to be fancy, but they do have to be clear and attractive. If you have the funds, a professional product photographer is a good investment. If you can't afford one for all of your products at once, take one at a time until you cover them all. Rebecca Picard and Richard Frasier are good photographers.
4. Write good website copy. Words tell stories where pictures leave off. New site visitors will scan, not read, your website so if you don't capture their attention in about 10 seconds, you'll be making lotion for yourself only. If you have writer's block, hire a copy editor, Edit Copy Proof.com for example.
5. Get a user-friendly shopping cart that takes credit cards. Make it easy for customers to enter their information so they can move onto fixing dinner or whatever else they have to do. If you get in their way of their lives, they won't come back. And they'll tell their friends. Ouch.
6. Collect customer information. If you get the sale, you have their information, but you also need to get non-buyer information so you can reach them again. Use a simple form inviting people to submit their name and email address so you can tell them about upcoming sales or send them your newsletter or whatever. Make sure they know you won't sell or give their private information away.
7. Communicate with customers. Now that you have their contact information, talk with them. Set up an online newsletter through BigList, Sparklist, MyEmma, Constant Contact or whatever and start cozying up. A newsletter doesn't have to be fancy or long, but it does have to be interesting and consistent. If you can't send it at least twice a month, it's practically a waste of time. Another great way to communicate and collect customer information is through a blog.
8. Practice the Indie Business Trifecta. Make technology your slave, pick a niche and stick with it and network with colleagues and competitors through trade organizations, conferences and online discussion groups.
9. Cultivate media relationships. Focused media attention is good, but don't waste time trying to get into O, The Oprah Magazine when you start out. Instead, get to know local media outlets where you are more likely to be featured early in your business. If you have a quality product and work hard at developing media relationships, the media attention will come naturally with time.
10. Use Free Or Low-Cost Resources. Every state has at least one US Small Business Administration office where you can get massive amounts of help starting up your business. Another great resource is your local chamber of commerce. Score also offers free advice from seasoned business executives. Also check out Startup Nation.
Of course I could go on and on with the endless number of things that you will eventually need to be concerned with as an Indie business owner. But this is enough to get started. I'm looking forward to you boom!
Have these Ten Things helped you? Do you have any tips to offer that have worked for you? If so, feel free to join the discussion using the Comments section below.