Starting a business is - besides becoming a mother - one of the most challenging and at the same time rewarding things I have experiencing so far.
Since it takes so much time of my daily life I thought sharing some insights might be worth reading for you. There also might be mums and women amongst us who are thinking of launching an own small business and simply don't know where or how to start.
Here are some guidelines and advises that I would love to share:
The first step of your small business journey should be to find your product/service that you want to market. To establish the first ideas you might get inspired by other/similar products or another business or even a single person. It is probably one of the hardest parts, though, to come up with an idea that has a market potential. It is essential to contemplate about the idea, develop thoughts by brainstorming potential downsides and upsides. Get help and advices from friends and family members to find out sweet spots or things that you might have overseen or not decently considered. Also be open for any kind of criticism and try to think out of the box. This might sound much of a cliche but it can't be more true. Put yourself in a potential customer's shoes and challenge your product or service from that perspective. What would such a potential customer expect from you, what would make him/her satisfied, or better, amazed and excited about your product/service. So simply be inspired and know what you want to offer.
After you have filed on your idea, start poking around the web and find out about competitors. Is there already someone running the same or similar business, how big is the potential market share, in what way are your products different or are they even unique? Research carefully and start planning around your idea. Educate yourself good enough. It doesn't require a college degree, but you do need to be aware of the ownership risks.
After you know what you would like to sell and what would be your potential target market or niche, come up with a financial plan: How much are you going to charge? How much will it cost to run the business? How profitable can you be? To be very honest, I didn't really have a clear idea about all these figures at the beginning. My journey started rather as a fun project while sewing some basic dresses for my little girl. When I got more and more requests from friends and the German community in Dubai I started to think about my project more as a business concept. At some point I made my own simple excel file where I could track my sales, my costs and profit. But most important, I wanted to see where my break even was, after I have started to take this more serious buying fabrics and other sewing supplies.
The next step, and before getting deeper into business operations I wanted to get an official license to be legally on the safe side. So decide on a legal structure for your small business. Evaluate what you need for your business by outlining advantages and disadvantages. Think carefully about what will work best for your concept.
I stared my business with a simple sewing machine and some fabrics. If your project requires some bigger amounts of investment start securing capital from your savings, borrow from family or friends or take a credit.
Now after producing and developing your products/services find your right Point of Sales. I had customers in my own little community and later started with official sales channels like Instagram and my own website. Other amazing online channels for small businesses - specially for handmade items - can be Etsy or Printerest and of course Facebook.
It all depends where you want to place your products. If you are seeking also offline channels then start looking for your right corners, like little shops that might take your item or service into their portfolio for smaller commission.
When making your first sales you will automatically start establishing your brand. To outline a unique brand, try to dig deeper by defining a Brand Mission. Define the values you want to incorporate with your customer base. Your vision and mission statement basically depicts the purpose of your small business. Find out what makes your business unique, and develop a brand around it. My business journey has started with little colorful cotton kids Dirndl - traditional German dresses, but later after many people asked me to offer more plain and simple fabrics I changed my portfolio and niche strategy specializing on kids clothes and accessories made from high quality imported muslin (gauze) fabric. So my advice: Go out and sell the heck out of your products or services.
Last but not least network as much as you can, with customers, bloggers, other small businesses and more. Just get connected to whatever inspires you or helps you get idea viral and learn. Take good care of your long term and loyal clients, spoil them with special offers. Make marketing campaigns per e-mail, social media or even whatsapp. Online marketing is easy to set up and can be a very effective tool to reach out when doing promotions or announcing new products.
In a nutshell: START somewhere, but just start, find something you’re passionate about and channel it into something that others might need and want too. Being devoted and passionate is what you need, to have the energy to go the extra mile every day because being a small business owner means basically to do it all by yourself from A to Z, and this 24/7, at least at the beginning of your journey.
I am still learning every day, talking to peer groups, customers and suppliers, making me understand my world better and better every day. It makes me humble but motivated to work even harder. Amazing my customers, getting positive feedback is the accelerator of my engine.
Evaluate yourself, your progress and your milestones. Determine where you are in contrast to where you thought you’d be, and think about what expectations you had. Reflect and adjust your current situation to were you want to go next.
Every way is unique, so was mine and so will be yours. Starting your own business from scratch is an exciting opportunity and rewarding journey, but it can also be challenging. There will be moments of frustration and moments of satisfaction. What was important for me is to stop once in a while, pause and reflect if this is the direction that i still want to go, do I still see myself and my vision in this project, does it make me happy, am I eager enough to achieve "more" instead of enjoying the current moment of success.
However my last piece of advice would be to cultivate a reputation of trustworthiness in your surrounding, be authentic and stay true to yourself and values.