When beginning a small business, we all know the must - do's. The legal stuff, the tax stuff, etc. Being completely prepared to start an online business (or any other business, for that matter) is an area most small business owners lack knowledge in. We tend to jump in feet first and use a 'learn as you go' approach. Today, I'm going to outline 4 things you NEED to do before opening your shop or upon opening your shop that most don't normally think to do right away.
1.) Start an email list.
This is completely essential to your business for so many reasons. I was already 10,000 sales in before I realized this (fail). If you are using a selling platform like Etsy or eBay, chances are strong, with all of the trademark and copyright hype going on right now, that your shop will more than likely be closed down at one time or another, and if that happens, you'll want backup. (To view a list of commonly used words/phrases/designs that are actually trademarked/copyrighted, view my post HERE.)
Even if that doesn't happen, you will utilize your email list to stay in touch with customers that are interested in your product with a monthly newsletter, discount codes, sales, and more. I use Aweber for my email list and they've been amazing. Etsy and many other website hosts allow a sign up form to be integrated into their site so your customers may opt in to your email list.
2.) Have your own website.
No matter what, you will want your own domain name, at the very least. I recommend having your own website on top of any other platforms you're using to sell on so you always have somewhere to turn if things go sour.
You can re-route your domain name to your Etsy shop or any other selling platform. I use Weebly because it is kind of fool - proof, but there are several other options out there for you if you don't have a lot of start up funds OR you can go big with a web designer (which is what I wish I would've done) right out of the gate. It takes money to make money.
Your domain name is the link you want to advertise everywhere; your business cards, networking with others, etc. This way, if you were to ever be shut down or restricted on a selling platform, you will have advertised your domain name to your customers, so you can start your own shop with that domain name or re-route it to another platform if you have to move.
Etsy advertises for Etsy. If your SEO is on par and your photo's rock (if you need help with your photos, see my tutorial HERE), you should have no problem being found on Etsy organically through their search. Etsy also advertises for you with Google. You need to focus on advertising YOU and YOUR business.
3.) Start accounts on all forms of social media.
So, once you've picked out your business name (if you need help with selecting a business name, see my post HERE about choosing a business name that withstands time and trends) and you are sure about it, you need to start your social media accounts.
Don't delay this or think that you'll just start once you get busy. You want to start your social media interaction from the get go to drive traffic as quickly as possible.
I mean, all the social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, & Pinterest. Those are my top 5.
Instagram rocks because you can link your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts to it and share every Instagram post to all of those accounts simultaneously, making managing your social media almost effortless when you're starting out. The down side to Instagram is that they've become like Facebook. Rather than having an organic feed they have an algorithm driven feed and it's hard to be found when you're a newbie. Thank goodness for hash tags. To find out 11 hash tags Etsy sellers should be using on Instagram see my post HERE. You can follow me on Instagram HERE.
Pinterest is an amazing tool for small businesses because of group boards. If you aren't familiar with group boards, check out my post HERE about the power of Pinterest, how group boards work, and a link to my 2 small business group boards. Follow me on Pinterest HERE.
Facebook is not even a question. You have to have it. I have a Facebook group, a Facebook business page, and I belong to hundreds of Buy/Sell/Trade groups that allow small business advertising. You can advertise for free on Facebook and Facebook's paid marketing ads are like no other. There isn't another social media platform out there that can even come close to comparing to Facebook Ads. Follow me on Facebook HERE.
I use Tumblr simply because I can link it to my Instagram and I can pin my posts. I just let it run itself. Sometimes, the key to Tumblr isn't the amount of followers, but using the right hash tags. I often notice that Wanelo users often save my Tumblr photo's. Follow me on Tumblr HERE.
Twitter is a little trickier when it comes to business, but no doubt- it's important. If you have the time to dedicate to Twitter it can be extremely lucrative. Twitter is more of a live feed type of social media. I've noticed you've got to post several times throughout the day to gain traction with interaction and if this is the platform you choose to go heavy on, be prepared to do so. I just began a new Twitter account for my business. You can follow me HERE.
4.) Have 2 businesses (or more).
I know what you're thinking; "TWO businesses? It's hard enough with one!"
This is why: When one business is down, you have the other to focus on. Any business can fall on hard times at any point in time and yes, every small business owner should know how to revive their business or give it a boost, but for the times that you simply cannot help it, you have another business to drive. They say the key to being financially secure and independent is having multiple streams of income, this is why.
It doesn't have to be random, though. For instance, someone that makes headbands could also have a headband supply shop and become a wholesale supplier. The same with fabric. If you sew, a good second business would be becoming a fabric supplier.
Feel free to share your small business tips below. How did you get started? What do you wish you would have known when you first started your small business?
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