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What Do Business Owners Say About Starting Up Online?

What Do Business Owners Say About Starting Up Online?

Starting your own business is exhilarating and motivational when it comes to the first baby steps. And then you get to the real challenges, and that's where doubts come in the picture. 

According to First Site Guide, only 40% of startups were able to generate sales and be profitable. With the help of the digital age and AI, the startup costs became less and less, with that the competition fiercer than ever. 

Outline

I. How to grow your startup in 2022?

Business owners

Stephanie, the owner of Pottery Awesomeness - a store specialized in all-in-one pottery painting kits for kids, mentioned that after she had the idea for her business, she joined a course that taught the basics of running an e-commerce store.  It was very basic, but was enough for her to get things off the ground. When asked about why she chose Shopify as her platform, she stated that it was recommended by several separate online sources as the best for e-commerce, and after doing some of her own research, they seemed to be the fastest moving platform with the easiest and best options for people with little experience in building e-commerce websites.

Make sure people care about your idea

“It’s important to make sure that enough people care about your idea or problem you are trying to solve so that you can truly be working towards something that has a big potential to grow.”

When asked about how Thuta, owner of a funky accessories business (such as socks, beanies, etc) Leiho about how she continued with what seemed to be just a good idea, she said “We all have great ideas however, it’s important to make sure that enough people care about your idea or problem you are trying to solve so that you can truly be working towards something that has a big potential to grow. At Leiho, we are constantly speaking to the people around us to validate and adapt our business model to ensure that we are maximizing our impact with our given operations.”

Sharing the same idea, the first step that Jessica - owner of The Scent Corvus, took was “testing if the idea had legs before putting anything into it.” They got socials set up right away and started posting their testing and creations to their small and humble audiences to see what the feedback was. From that, they could verify the demand for the product. They launched the business to a community that was already waiting in line to buy our first products. This helped The Scent Corvus team to have a really successful first launch day and Jessica recommended taking the time to really build a community first before opening a store.

Jessica from The Scent Corvus

When being asked how to grow a startup, Kayla from Bold Crimson Boutique shared from what she had experienced that upon deciding what market and product lines she really wanted to go for; she decided on a Women’s Boutique online. She came to the decision of running an ecommerce business on “Shopify” due to the versatility of the job and being able to perform job duties anywhere. It’s a great way for her to pursue her dreams and passions for fashion, art and creativity and share on a world wide platform.

II. The Industry

Thuta:

Leiho's owner talks about the industry

“For Leiho, the social enterprise industry we are part of is changing rapidly as more and more people are wanting to change the world! (laugh). 

Many existing businesses have also been pivoting or incorporating social impact to their operations as being conscious and impactful is almost becoming an expectation for businesses nowadays. As such, there has also been an increase in impact investing, with investors becoming more interested in supporting businesses that are making a difference socially or environmentally.”

Jessica:

“To talk about this industry, I would say there was a real boom during the pandemic of home fragrance brands and customers wanting to purchase home fragrance due to being locked in all day. The focus on home became really important and we were able to capitalize on the attention this industry had at just the perfect time, by offering something a little different to the usual. Growth now looks like expanding your collections beyond the standard candle or wax melt, so that you can avoid the pitfalls of the seasonal rise and fall now the world is going back to normal. If you can be a brand that is all encompassing for the home, then you are able to withstand the test of time. As a brand we are not really concerned with following trends per say and that is actually the complete opposite of our USP, however I do see that generally, as far as candles and wax melts go, body sculptures, quirky shapes and pastels are really having their moment. Jar candles with a funny slogan or pop culture phrase also tend to be quite the go-to at the moment.”

Kayla:

Bold Crimson Boutique's owner talks about the industry

“The industry goes up and down economy wise week by week so it's really about getting your foot in the door offering all the latest and greatest promotions and products first, and making sure you very closely follow trends and holidays.The pros of running a business online like Shopify, is you really have all the tools you need at your disposal and really just have to ride your difficulties learn and push forward, it does not require you to have to store front and transport etc, of physical items. It makes it so it works with my schedule and plans as a wife and mom. Cons are the fact that it’s very expensive for overhead cost and getting started. It hurts that at 6 months people still aren't purchasing from my brand especially when I take valuable time out of my day everyday and see zero returns when I really put my soul into it. Need more assistants getting it smoother and making an actual income however for now I am doing one step at a time and hoping It succeeds before I have no budget left to keep it running.”

III. The Challenges

The challenges

“Cash flow in the early stages was one of the fundamental hurdles.”

The biggest obstacle that every startup faces is the lack of resources for an enormous amount of workload. “We were lucky to have two co-founders, however, we’ve had to learn every single aspect of the business ourselves, from finances to logistics, web developing, marketing, sales, advertising, team management and more! However, we have had so much support from our mentors and advisors, especially The City Ventures incubator we have been a part of since Day 1 to help us through the most challenging times.” - Thuta, owner of Leiho.

Jessica launched The Scent Corvus at the height of the pandemic in 2020, so there were many. The supply chain had been heavily impacted and there was a national shortage of raw materials such as wax and cardboard boxes. There were times where they weren't sure they could even get hold of the basic materials. On top of this, the store ran a cash-hungry business model, so cash flow in the early stages was one of the fundamental hurdles. But they were able to combat this by introducing a made-to-order model to start, progressing to pre sales which has helped them launch extensive product lines quite early in the business.

Kayla said her brand was a hot mess to say the least because she was letting others choose for her. They have stayed more true to themselves and have finally gotten followers and supporters of their boutique. Their next goal as a boutique is to get their potential customers to actually buy the products they’re adding to their carts.

Stephanie views traffic as her biggest challenge, even until now.

IV. The Progress

Let's learn about a typical day in the lives of startup companies, such as Leiho. “No two days at Leiho are exactly the same! On most days, we work remotely and will have morning meetings with the team to discuss our agenda for the day and work towards meeting our goals for that day, whether it’s working on an upcoming campaign, reaching out to new corporate and charity partners as well as building our brand awareness and strengthening our community. We also have regular outreach days where we distribute donations to our beneficiaries, who are either people sleeping rough on the streets or people staying in temporary accommodation in hostels and shelters at the charities we support.” (smile)

Stephanie from Leiho

“Our business is 90% subscription based, therefore 3 out of 4 weeks of the month is spent preparing for the following month’s new box.  And one week is spent fulfilling that box.  It is a fast moving business with constant demands for preparing what’s next!” - Stephanie.

Jessica from The Scent Corvus

Jessica shared, “I try to work Monday to Saturday with Sunday off. I am up at 7am as I have the school run but tend to get in my emails from 8am so that I am caught up from the afternoon before. Mondays is my content creation day. I don't really make or pack this day, I solely focus on content for the week for social media, my candle course and email marketing. Tuesday to Friday I am in the studio, a mix of packing orders, restocking the shelves or creating our subscription boxes. I tend to work until 4pm, get the parcels ready for collection at 5:30pm and do admin work all afternoon. It is a full week, let's put it that way!”

Bold Crimson Boutique

For Kayla, “Bold Crimson Boutique LLC is a solely online boutique that I run from my laptop and phone. I work all hours of the day, rain or shine. I create my content and run media pages, the website, products and inventory with my supplier, logo branding etc. You name it I do it. I work around my schedule as mom and to a little girl and wife to a retired US Army “73rd Airborne” veteran. I also manage all back office finances and budgeting ads etc.”

V. How has PageFly accompanied you in your journey?

PageFly Team

“PageFly has allowed us to design our website in more flexible ways that align with our branding and vision. We felt quite limited to the pages we wanted to create but by becoming a page fly member we were able to creatively bring our brand to life and make it more visually appealing. There are so many apps that can be integrated with PageFly and features too!”

For The Scent Corvus, “I use PageFly for extra pages that need a bit more pizazz than the standard Shopify pages. We currently have a new one in the works for our white label and private label services, a blank page just wasn't going to cut it and this is where PageFly really helps. I haven't had any difficulties yet, there is a little learning curve with the platform, my first attempt at a page was a little sketchy to say the least but like anything, give it time and it becomes pretty intuitive.”

The store owner of Pottery Awesomeness exclaimed “PageFly is by far one of my most used apps and also my favorite.  The customer service for PageFly is the BEST out there.  The LIVE chat feature is amazing.  The tech team that provides the customer service has literally never let me down.  I feel like I know some of them personally.  When I ask a question, a familiar name appears and I feel comfortable that my problem will be solved within minutes!  Not only that, every time I wish there were a new feature or integration, the team is already working on it.  The constant updates are amazing!  If all apps were run like PageFly, the world would be a better place!  Or, at least, many shop owners’ world’s would be better.  Thank you for paving the way and showing how it should be done!”

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