We know firsthand that starting an online business isn’t all roses and photo shoots… but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing! Whether you’re a new entrepreneur yourself or just business-curious, a little guidance from those who’ve been running the game for awhile is key to getting your plans off the ground. We rounded up 10 pieces of valuable advice, sponsored by FedEx, on getting started, staying motivated, moments of weakness, and how to stay personal in e-commerce, from some of our favorite makers and entrepreneurs.
As a designer, woodworker, and business owner, Melanie has made a name for herself making and selling handcrafted wood and cork goods out of her beautiful online shop, Melanie Abrantes Designs. Here are two tips from her experience starting up a home goods business.
TAKE A LEAP
“After graduating college, I wanted to continue to develop the skills that I learned in the woodshop at school. I joined a local spot and started making different pieces to give to people for gifts and to make my own projects for my home. Friends began encouraging me to sell my goods, and I ended up signing up for West Coast Craft in San Francisco to see if people would buy it. I didn’t know if people would be interested, but I was pleasantly surprised to see my pieces selling! My business soon began after that.”
TELL A VISUAL STORY
“The most important thing about selling your product online is to make sure that the images of your product are able to tell the full story. Since people won’t be able to see it in person, they have to imagine what the product is going to look like in that setting. When you have professional photography involved, you are able to create a life for that product.”
Meghan started her jewelry company, Svelte Metals, out of a need for well-made pieces that actually fit, and saw that she was not alone in that need. Here’s her advice on killing it in your online store.
BUILD TRUST THROUGH GOOD COMMUNICATION
“Successfully selling a product online is about building trust with your customer, because they can’t meet you in person or try on your product. I’ve found the best way to do this is to be authentic, responsive, and consistent with your communication and messaging.”
REMEMBER THE BIG PICTURE
“It’s easy to get discouraged if you have a lull in sales, but remember that selling online means you have countless potential sales at your fingertips. Your ecommerce site can be working for you 24/7 if you think big.”
As cofounder of Korean beauty site Soko Glam and editor-in-chief of The Klog, Charlotte knows a thing or three about creating a beauty brand that not only answers the “what” but the “why” and “how” behind her curated products. Here’s how she got her start and kept it personal online.
FIND OUTSIDE INSPIRATION
“Within a few months of living in skincare-obsessed Korea, it turned my beauty world upside down! I quickly adopted their skin-first philosophy, which was refreshingly seen as not a chore but a part of the lifestyle that they took delight in… this motivated me to share the world of Korean beauty to the West, so my cofounder Dave and I created Soko Glam, a curated selection of the best Korean beauty products. And because education is key to understanding the world of Korean beauty, I launched The Klog, a place to learn about these techniques and read about the latest innovations from Korea.”
“Skincare is very personal and needs to be tailored to your needs, so we offer one-on-one skin consultations, where trained skin experts will call you directly to discuss your skin concerns and offer recommendations. Education is our key focus, so that’s why we pour our energy into articles about skincare techniques and information on The Klog, and why I wrote The Little Book of Skin Care, which has been translated to over four languages now!”
As founder of organic skincare brand Cocokind, Priscilla puts her heart and soul into getting clean and affordable skin products to the masses. Here’s how she found inspo and what she’s learned in the biz.
FIND A GAP IN THE MARKET
“I was an analyst on Wall Street and working 12+ hour days. I didn’t always have time to make my own skincare “concoctions,” as I would call them. When I went to the grocery store, I would get so frustrated because most skincare products either contained too many unnecessary ingredients or they would be (what I believed) unfairly expensive. My skin is extremely sensitive; more ingredients means that there is a greater chance that I will have a negative reaction. That’s where my business idea started! It was founded out of my own need — I realized that there was nothing out there to serve my needs as a consumer.”
DON’T LET PERFECTION HOLD YOU BACK
“I believe it’s extremely important to collect customer feedback as soon as you can… your product may launch without being “perfect,” and that’s ok. Your product will never (and should never) stop changing. Show the world what product values you have created, and don’t wait until ‘perfection’ to launch. Perfection can’t be achieved without feedback from your consumer, anyways!”
Maia started her children’s clothing and toy brand, Bitte, after having a daughter of her own. She teamed up with her mother (an entrepreneur herself with toy industry chops), and together they launched their own sustainable, adorable, and well designed brand! Here are her tips on keeping a business going online.
SETTING YOURSELF APART TAKES WORK
“[E-Commerce] is a lot of work! That might seem obvious, but sometimes people have the impression that because it’s online and we don’t have to deal with the overhead or other obstacles of having a brick and mortar, that we just get to sit back and let the sales roll in. That’s of course not the case, especially now, since the online marketplace is pretty oversaturated. We constantly have to be setting ourselves apart and sharing our story and what makes us special.”
REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED
“There have been a couple of those moments where I feel so tired and overworked and I think to myself, ‘It would probably be much easier if I just went and got a nine-to-five corporate job that had a salary and benefits and weekends!’ But for the most part, I feel so lucky to be doing what I’m doing, and being able to work with my mom and create my own schedule so I get to spend more time with my daughter. It’s really a dream come true.”
Sponsored by FedEx.
Author: Lee Schellenberger