Being a notoriously indecisive person, I was beyond shocked when I actually managed to start my business. I can honestly say that it has been the best and worst (in the best possible way that something can be the worst :S) experience of my entire life and it's still only the beginning.
This blog post is going to be me giving you guys a bit of insight into my journey, how I started, where I am now and what advice I would give to others who are thinking of starting a business.
In my previous post, From bad skin to skin care business… I wrote about my struggles with eczema and skin damage and how a lack of existing products that contained natural ingredients that repair skin without any harsh chemicals, inspired me to start my own business. And to be completely honest, this was a much simpler sequence of events than what happened in reality. I'll be the first to say it, starting up a business is hard as f**k. You need time, MONEY, patience, planning, determination and perseverance and even then success is never really guaranteed.
When I decided that I wanted to start up my business, I was sitting at home on the phone to my friend and it came to me. I'd had other business ideas in the past, and have even been involved in running businesses before but each time it was just never really right. When I decided on skincare it felt like something that fit like a glove, like my Cinderella "foot in the glass slipper" moment. So I scoured the internet for hours on end, wrote down all these amazing ideas, called my cousin Kenny - who is literally one of the most brilliant minds on earth and the best person ever - and started bouncing ideas around. For like an entire week I was super motivated and inspired, I couldn't stop talking about the business and brainstorming ideas and looking into different investment opportunities. Then, I stopped. Yup, you read that right. I literally just forgot about it because in reality, I didn't have the capital to start a business, I had rent to pay, a job to go to, travel to pay for, groceries to buy and obviously a fleek to maintain - all of which left me with little disposable income to start up a skincare business (it is literally so expensive to start up any business).
For a long time, the business idea just became like a lot of my other ideas - forgotten and pushed to the back of my mind. I had a life to live and things to do and I managed to convince myself that it was just a silly dream that was never going to come true, or maybe something that I would do in a few years when my life was more "together". I went back to the daily grind, but the whole time I maintained my interest in skin care and healthy skin so it's as if it was always at the back of my mind.
In July this year, I was on the phone to my best friend Debbie and we were talking about some money that I had. It wasn't a massive amount of money but it wasn't a small amount either, my plan was to use it to buy some designer bags (lol) and pay a couple months ahead on my rent. But she made a suggestion that changed everything "why don't you use it to start up your skin care business" and thus - check me out - The Glow Pot started coming together. I jumped into the deep end, got straight to work and I haven't looked back since.
The Glow Pot
At The Glow Pot we believe that natural products are the key to soft, even and glowing skin.
The Glow Pot is a premium skin care and cosmetics brand who are all about making your skin beautiful the natural way. Our products are made from natural and organic ingredients, without any harmful synthetic chemicals*.
Our skin care is focused on giving you the skin you deserve and the tools to achieve this, by not only providing the best quality products but also by giving you our well-informed advice on which products suit your specific skin type.
We cater to all skin types which means that our products are free of most common allergens and contain no harsh chemicals, so that you can have peace of mind that your skin is in good hands.
*All our products are 100% cruelty free and vegetarian friendly.
If you are interested in finding out more, please check out my website - www.theglowpot.com
Here is some advice that I have for anyone who is currently running a business or is thinking about starting one:
1. It is a journey, not a race: You are not in competition with anyone, do not compare yourself to anyone and don't put too much pressure on yourself to have everything in place at the start, just do as much as you can. I know that personally, I have loved seeing every bit of growth and progress that The Glow Pot has made and I'm excited for how far it will go. You might not have everything in place when you start but it's good to start from somewhere, once you do get started and some money starts coming in, then you're in a better position to add new things and expand your business as you go along. A small start is better than no start, delaying your launch because every little detail isn't right may just lead to frustration, procrastination and possibly just giving up. I started my business with 5 products, I made sure that I promoted and marketed these 5 products to the best of my ability and created a buzz around them. This meant that as new products were added to my brand, my customers were excited for them and happy that the range was expanding because they saw the results and positive feedback I had received for my other products. I plan to keep expanding my range a few products at a time because quality > quantity.
2. If you can do it yourself, then do it yourself: One of the most frustrating things in my life is waiting. I have very little - some would say no - patience, so things like waiting for someone to get back to me with a quote, or having to wait for someone to finish designing something before I can proceed with anything is a massive pain in my backside. Which is why I resolved to just do whatever I could do by myself. Not only does it mean that you are working at your own pace and to your own schedule, but it also means that you pick up some really great skills and experience on the way. I'm basically a website and graphic designer now (not really).
3. INVESTMENTS ARE GREAT: A problem that a lot of young people have when starting up or trying to start up a business is that we want to do it all by ourselves. Given how much money is actually needed to start up a business (especially if you are selling physical products), this is highly unrealistic without some kind of start up capital lump sum. There are so many resources available online for investment opportunities and so many people willing to invest. I've been fortunate enough to have been contacted directly by people who potentially would like to invest in my business but this isn't always the case. Looking into crowdfunding, angel investors and business loans - the Princes' Trust has a really good scheme for this.
4. Planning is KEY! - So I am a particular kind of stupid, the kind of stupid that thinks they can successfully run a business without a business plan. When I first started, I literally went so far out of my way to not write a business plan that it concerned people around me. This caused major problems for me when I was approached by investors because the first thing they want to see is - yup you guessed it - a business plan. So my dumb a** was up till stupid o'clock writing an entire business plan as it needed to be sent by 12pm the next day. Don't be like me, write your business plan as soon as you can. It is not a rigid and unchangeable list of rules that you must stick to, but it's an essential guideline and target setting tool that allows you to steer your business in the right direction. It also helps you see how far you've come, what you've achieved and what things you still need to do. Nobody will invest in you without a business plan, no matter how good you are at explaining things. Here is a link for a good business plan template.
5. Celebrate every achievement, no matter how small: One thing that has really helped me stay positive and motivated is the fact that I celebrate every single success as if it's the greatest thing ever. If I make 1 sale in a day or 100 sales in a day (I claim that IJN) I get super excited and I feel proud of myself. It's easy to beat yourself up about things when you don't reach your targets or expectations but nothing is set in stone, so be flexible with yourself. Just because you haven't achieved exactly what you wanted, doesn't mean that you haven't achieved anything. Rather than beating yourself and being negative, instead be positive and optimistic. It makes a world of difference.
6. There will be bad times, there will be really bad times, but you can not give up: As you sit staring at your website back office after 10 days of no sales, no orders, no interest and no money being made, it is easy to feel like it's time to give up. Don't give up. Well, if you do give up all that means - in my opinion - is that you were never really passionate about it in the first place. We see all these success stories about people who went through setback after setback and experienced numerous downfalls and failures but they persevered and succeeded against all odds - what we don't see is how f**king hard it is to actually get through these downfalls and failures. It literally sucks when you feel like you're making no progress, sometimes you hit a brick wall and you just want scrap everything and forget it all happened. But the trick is to keep going no matter what. If your tactics aren't working - change them. If your target audience don't seem to be interested in your products or brand - do some more market research, appeal to a different audience. If you aren't getting great feedback from your customers - ask them for constructive criticism and make changes accordingly. It's simple but it's not easy. If this is your passion, this is your thing and you want to make it a success then explore every avenue that you possibly can and if at the end of doing alllllll that, you still can't find a solution then yeah, maybe it's time to give up. But one day you'll see a breakthrough, even if it's just a little glimmer of hope and it will make it all seem worthwhile.
7. DO YOUR RESEARCH: Research is so vital that like I literally cannot even emphasize how vital it is. If you are selling a product then the chances are that there is some kind of regulatory body whose rules you have to comply to - find out who they are and what the rules are. Find out who your target audience are, where they shop, what websites they use, what things appeal to them, where your product will fall in the market, who your competitors are, how much you could realistically sell your products for etc. This will help you so much in terms of how to market and brand your business and also allows you to ensure that you are not putting your business or customers at any risk.
8. Have a contingency plan: I literally found out what this was on Monday, as in Monday of this week - but that is whatever. So, starting a business is great and all and initially if you start receiving a large amount of orders and start making some money you may fall into the trap of thinking that you should quit your full time hustle and rely solely on your business income. I am here to tell you that you are wrong and to do this would be entirely foolish (unless you have a large sum of start up capital, of course). Here is why - the money that your business makes within the first year or so should ideally just be channeled back into the business in order to expand it. Most business don't even make any profit within the first 18 months and if it does, you really shouldn't be spending any of it. It can be difficult to balance a full time job with running a business but if you can do it then please do try because that way, if the business doesn't make as much as you need you still have the money from your full time job to fall back on. I personally am not much of a job person, I absolutely hate working for someone else and would much rather be my own boss. However, I am currently still poor. Do you see the problem? So, my solution has been to temp with an agency for the mean time. This allows me to have a flexible work schedule - I call my agency and let them know when I am available and if I am busy with business stuff then I tell them that I am unavailable to work and manage my money so that I don't end up struggling during that time frame. As soon as your business starts making enough money that you no longer have to maintain a full time job then please feel free to quit immediately, but before that time it is always best to make sure that you are still receiving a secondary source of income because in case of an emergency (business or personal) you are still covered. This also allows you to put money from your job into your business and if you don't need to do this, you can still put some money aside for savings.
9. Everyone needs some help sometimes: Asking for help or requiring support DOES NOT make you weak or vulnerable. There is a quote that says "if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together", and I wholeheartedly believe in this quote. This isn't to say that you can't run your business alone, you probably can. But what I am getting at is that you don't know everything and you can't do everything. I owe a lot of my businesses successes to those around me and on my different social media platforms who have shown me endless support. They give me advice, they help promote my products, they give me incredible feedback and encourage me to keep going. You might not even see that a certain aspect of your business needs to be changed or that it's doing incredibly well until someone else brings it to your attention, be open to this. It's also great to ask for advice from those who have been in a similar position to you. I spend so much time asking for tips and advice from other business owners and those who have experience in certain fields - shout out to you lot for putting up with me - because I know that no man is an island. People are way more willing to help than you would ever imagine.
10. Enjoy the ride: Have fun with it! Have fun with your marketing, have fun learning how to relate to your customers, have fun with your website designing and your logo design and every other aspect of starting and running your business. It will be hard, there will be ups and down and people may not always believe in what you're doing but as long as you believe in yourself, your brand and your products/service, that's all that matter. Good luck!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this and that my tips/advice have been helpful. If you would like any more advice or just want to discuss anything I have spoken about then please contact me on twitter: @foamsxoxo or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading xo