Anyone trying to build a brand or business from home will know all too well the hurdles involved in getting something to come to fruition. Whether you’re a home chef who is turning their passion for cooking into a viable product you can sell at the local market (or online!), or you’ve got an online store that can’t see to get anyone to take notice of, there are ways we can look to those already successful to help get inspiration.
I’m not talking about opening a book of inspirational quotes and trying to seek knowledge from “Live.Laugh.Love”. I’m talking about looking at how big companies succeed in helping their businesses get noticed.
I’ve scoured the web and got some unsolicited advice that would be noteworthy for parents running small businesses; looking at everything from packaging to how to start selling online when you don’t have vast resources.
I’m hoping you’ll be able to glean a little light that inspires, so let’s start with getting your products out there!
Big Company Tip 1: Let others take care of your “stuff”.
When you ask most people what Amazon is known for, they’ll say it’s that they sell books or that they sell pretty much anything. When you ask people what Apple is known for, they’ll say nice phones or a fancy watch that reminds you to stand up every hour.
But did you know that Apple pays Amazon a reported $30 million a month? They’re not buying a lot of cheap phone cases but use Amazon’s Web Services (AWS). Amazon is one of the biggest providers of servers in the world. Many companies actually use it because Amazon has the computing power that they don’t – even Facebook used to for a few years.
So what does that have to do with your little business? Well, when it comes to things like designing a website, hosting it, making logos and such, you can save yourself a lot of stress by getting it done externally.
For example, weigh up the amount of time it would take for you to design complete branding that fits on your website against the money it would cost someone on a site like Fiverr or Squarespace to do it. Making small payments on your weak points saves you time and money in the long term.
Think of it like babysitting for your business. Someone is taking care of a or b to give you time to work on c-z.
Big Company Tip 2: Create a spark through design
I love Cadbury’s chocolate. We all know what a bar looks like (big shiny purple tasty goodness), and even though it’s always been in a purple wrapper, there is a surprising amount of work that goes into getting it to look a certain way when sitting on a shelf.
The company who designs the packaging is called Pearlfisher, and they have a straightforward mantra on their website that I love;
“brands that ignite passion…will be loved forever”.
If you’re making any kind of food product (or any product for that matter), you need to let your personality shine through in the packaging. People want to feel happy when they look at what you have to offer. Someone cooking a homemade hot sauce will have an easier time selling it if there’s a sense of your passion and story in every bottle, rather than a fancy label that does nothing for the imagination.
Brands like Coca Cola do this all the time when they put people’s names on bottles. Starbucks even does it every time you go in and give your name with your order. People like to feel a part of your story, so taking the time to pop a note in when getting an order ready helps make a much more positive connection than a Thank You card with no name.
It’s the kind of connection that can have them coming back as a repeat customer.
Big Company Tip 3: Act Smart, Not Big
So you don’t have the budget to hire a media company to spend a day taking photos of your business or your product. So what? You don’t need them anyway!
Etsy themselves have created a complete guide of how to act smart and get products on their site noticed. Take a page from their book and act quickly when working with what resources you have on your website or store.
Big Company Tip 4: Let the big company deliver your stuff
I’m going back to Amazon for this last tip, but oh boy it’s a good one.
For any business that sells a physical product, fulfilment is the biggest bug-bearer and making sure deliveries get out there on time can become stressful. So (again) act smart and let the big guys do all the hard work for you.
Small businesses can register for free on Amazon and start selling their products directly to customers. Amazon will come to your door, pick up all the order and ship them without you even needing to leave the house.
There can be a small monthly fee involved depending on how much you’re selling, but it dwarves having to do it all yourself when the alternative is loading up the car and having to drag it all into the post office every week.
It makes running a physical store less stressful and gives you more free time, which is something every parent always needs.
Bonus Big Company Tip: You should be happy
Did you know that people working at Google can (at any point in their day) go to the gym, grab free food, watch lectures, work wherever they like and even do yoga?
All the big tech companies invest time and money in making sure their employees are happy at work.
Take heed of that and always make sure your little business has positives that still outweigh the negatives. If you don’t enjoy doing it, you might want to reconsider it.