We've all heard the line, “lift while you climb”, but how many of us actually received help when we first started out? When the idea of becoming an entrepreneur hits you, you may feel nervous and doubt all wrapped up in a shiny ball of hell yeah, let's get it going!
All of these thoughts are valid, but where do you begin?
Well first, find out what makes you happy. I know that sounds hella cliche but believe me, it makes the difference! When those days arrive (and they will arrive); when your sales are low (and I mean low..low) and people refuse to support your vision, you will need to stand ten toes down and believe in yourself, your product (s) and most importantly, your dream.
Now, as a creative, you may gain inspiration from many things around you and believe that you can do it all; however, I believe your focus and intentions need to be guided in the right direction if you want to maximize your success! Here are some steps and advice I wish someone relayed to me earlier in the game- hopefully it helps:
Step 1: Identify if your business venture is just a hobby or if you want to create a niche and make a name for yourself. This will determine how much money and effort you put into it.
Step 2: Determine if you want to place your products on an established marketplace such as Etsy, Ebay or Amazon to name a few, or whether you want to create your own website and keep the money in-house.
Advice: Most of these marketplaces are extremely saturated and I actually found better luck with creating my own website. In my opinion, if one doesn't have a huge following, it's extremely easy to get lost in the matrix. Now, you may just be a wiz at SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and many of those concerns may be out the window. I do believe places like these definitely have their advantages and disadvantages; just make sure to do your research and choose the option that is best for you.
Step 3: If this is more than just a hobby, choose a business name that you truly love. Search “business registries” to see if it's been snatched up by your twin genius in the world lol. You should also check to see if there is a website with that name as well. If not, lock in your business name and register with the state you will do business in because best believe the state wants their money, and they will collect!
Hostgator is a good site to register with, but there is also GoDaddy and slew of others. The website name could run you about $10-$15 and the website SSL could run you about $75-$100. The SSL is an important security component, and you want to make sure your customers know that their personal information is safeguarded (the lock that you see in front of website links, tells one this is trusted site).
But as always, research the best one for your needs.
Advice: Consider trademarking your logo/business name (which can come much later in the game) unless you are absolutely sure of the business name/logo and don't have any foreseeable plans on changing it. Trademarking your name/logo is on the higher price range, but well worth it. I would suggest saving at least $2K. If you are ready to take the leap, definitely check out @guardyourgenius on IG. Neidy was an absolute pleasure to work with when she assisted with trademarking my business name (YellowBagDesigns®), she answered all my questions and made sure I was aware of everything happening behind the scenes.
Keep in mind the process is very lengthy; I believe 5-6 months but could be longer. This is to ensure no one else has your name/logo and if so, it gives them adequate time contest. Knowing that you have taken steps to protect your property will help you to sleep better at night and protect you down the line, trust me.
Step 4: Research packaging, materials and make sure to tie in your brand colors. Determine what those are. Certain colors have meaning. If you want to check out a cool article regarding colors and its meaning, check out the following link: Color Meanings - The Power and Symbolism of Colors (Infographics) (color-meanings.com)
Your choices should be a reflection of who you are as a creator.
Advice: Say it with me...Google is your best friend! Don't expect everyone to give you tidbits/suggestions, but rather spend the time doing the research. You will learn your likes, loves and hates very quickly and you will be a better entrepreneur because of it.
Step 5: Figure out a price point. Don't just spit arbitrary prices into thin air. I've been there, done that...and it sucks. You end up losing money, and that is no bueno! Check out similar products on Amazon, Etsy, Google to get a reference point. Don't just stop at checking out these reference points. Take into account the time it took to create, the packaging, materials, labels, etc. Just remember...don't downplay your talent! The right customer will find you and will have no qualms paying for what you believe your time and creation is worth. It may take some time, even years, but they will come. If you're lost on how to calculate your products, there are tons of apps and articles out there to help. Use key words like “product pricing” or “pricing calculator”.
Advice: Know that not every product needs to make an appearance. Again, as creators you may want to dip your hand into many buckets. (guilty as charged :)!!
This can definitely become expensive very quickly, so choose wisely.
Step 6: Find your community. Having like-minded people around is the best part. You learn from their mistakes and their successes. They will be able to understand the emotional rollercoaster mind state that you will experience quite often. Just soak it all up and enjoy the ride.
Advice: Learn to be in the moment. There will be opportunities that present themselves, whether it be interviews, collaborations, speaking engagements, etc., be open to it all (within good reason of course). Common sense should kick in haha! Social media is a good place to get your feet wet if you are weary about being in front of and speaking on camera. For us introverts, it takes a little longer, but practice makes perfect.
Advice: Accept the fact that your family and friends may not support in the way you would like them to. In the beginning, this was a very hard pill to swallow. Support looks very different to a lot of people. Support may come in sharing a post, tagging someone in your post, showing up at event, helping out at an event, but not always in monetary form. However, accept the support and be grateful for it.
If this post helped you out in any way, drop a comment and let me know.
Be well my creatives and have most importantly, have fun!!
Photo: By Jamila Lake