Top 5 Mistakes I Made in My First Year of Biz
In my last post, I shared My Entrepreneurial Story So Far. Today, I'm rolling back the clock to my very first year in online business and let you in on the biggest mistakes I made (so that you don't have to!). This post is referring to my first online business (not this one!), where I sold unique personalized necklaces designed to represent the meaning of names.
Here's the top 5 mistakes I made:
1. Not understanding branding
I knew that I needed a logo, nice packaging + website, but I lacked understanding of branding as a whole. Branding goes way beyond the surface and forces you to define your target audience, your core values and more. I was way too general in my audience and therefore didn't craft a strong enough message. No matter what product you are creating, I encourage you to be specific and craft a brand.
2. Ignored warning signs
My product was unique, thoughtful and received 5 stars from almost all customers. Because of this, I ignored critical warning signs. I think this is normal - especially when you've poured your heart and soul into your product. On top of that, as entrepreneurs, we're told again and again to never give up. I agree - to an extent. You still need to be aware of warning signs. Is your business scalable? Is there a big enough market for it? Do people really want your product?
I ran into a few problems, specifically that there were 1000s of names and I couldn't design a unique pendant for every one. Also, the customer was not given any choice as to the pendant they would have to buy (like a usual retail shop would). Instead, they would find the matching pendant to their name and if they didn't like that specific pendant, (or their name's meaning), I would lose a customer.
Takeaway: It is totally fine to pivot! Just because you have started in one direction, does not mean that you can't change things up to make your business more scalable or to provide a better option for your customer/client.
3. Assumed that if I built it, they would come
Ahh! I'm sure I'm not the only one that felt the big let down when they realized visitors don't magically flock to your site. I soon realized that being noticed online (among the millions of websites out there) would require constant outreach and visibility. You must be consistently figuring out ways to get in front of your customers.
Takeaway: Have a marketing plan in place. Look at what others in your industry are doing as a starting point - then put your own creative twist on it.
4. Was not strategic with social media
For my first year in business, I simply posted a picture on Instagram with a few general hashtags, rarely engaged & thought I was “on Instagram.” I couldn’t have been more wrong! There is a strategy to all social platforms. Learn the best practices of the platform then get to work (you will probably spend more time on this than expected).
And then there was Pinterest - I ignored it completely! Face palm. Pinterest is powerful for driving traffic and sales (for free). If you are a product seller especially, focus your efforts here.
Takeaway: Sign up for Pinterest right now. Seriously, right now, go do it!
5. Searching for the marketing "secret"
When I first started out, I was in this constant research mode, always thinking that everyone knew wayyy more than I did and that there must be some "secret" to marketing that I was missing.
Now, I'm all for consistently learning, and it's something I make a point to do every week. However, I'm letting you know now that there's no "secret." There are effective tactics to growth, many of which I'm sure you know about already!
For example, I knew influencer marketing could work for my business. Could I say I really did it to the fullest? No. I did it maybe a few times and when my business didn't explode from this one action, I gave up on that tactic. Rookie mistake! As you will have seen, this is can be an amazingly effective tactic (and many brands have built their biz using it).
Takeaway: It can be annoying to hear, but it really is all about the action. Trust that you know what you're doing (more than you think you do) and do whatever you can to get the word out about your brand!
There you have it! My top 5 biggest mistakes in my first year online. What do you think? Can you relate? Let me know in the comments what mistakes you made in your first year of biz and if you made any of these mistakes too!