Over the last fifteen (15) years I’ve attempted many different business ventures from selling apparel (T-Shirts/clothes) on the side corner to Amway to paper towel distribution, etc. all with the intent of making some secondary income to supplement my primary income.
It was in December of 2012, however, while scrolling through Amazon for a gift for myself that an idea hit me. This idea, which was one of my more successful ones, ended up teaching me these six (6) things about entrepreneurship, conventional business and retail sales.
Don't sleep on an idea
Solve A Problem
Understand Your Buyer
Don't Be Conventional
Stick With It (Longterm Mindset) - graphic idea - marathon
Don't Sleep On An Idea
It's funny how we sometimes second guess an idea especially when it comes from our own mind. But, we’ll be super pumped and be ready to move on an idea of others. It's almost like we are not willing to credit ourselves with being BIG thinkers.
We are all big thinkers and I honestly believe that fear is the mother of all entrepreneurial failures. As soon as the idea came to me I immediately started second guessing and shooting it down with questions and statements like;
Why would people want to buy?
Yeah but....there are watch stores already out there!
People, don't look for watches online (funny I said that while I was looking for a watch online)
This type of thinking kept me back for a few days to be honest, but I summed up the courage, because I felt I was onto something. This is the fuel that should fuel most if not all entrepreneurs.
Don’t ever discount your idea until you try it.
Everything we sell solves a problem - Lyndon Brathwaite
Solve A Problem
What really excited me wasn't the fact that I was going to sell these really cool timepieces (watches) to people at an affordable price. It was that fact that I realized, there were people just like me, searching for gift ideas at Christmas time, that possibly didn't have the time or a clue as to what to get. That's where I was going to help or make a difference.
As much as I was supplying a commodity (The Watch), that commodity came with a specific meaning or value when delivered. It was my job to help the customer slowdown and think about what gifting that timepiece would mean to the recipient.
The "service" of me helping the customer make that decision at the convenience of a phone call, short visit, etc. was my value proposition to the customer and surprisingly price in 90% of my interactions was not an issue.
Customers don't like being sold, they like being guided - Lyndon Brathwaite
Understand The Buyer
While I could have taken the traditional "what you see is what you get" approach. It's not the experience I wanted to give, plus, I realized that my sales got better the more I paid attention to the customer.
A timepieces comes with a certain sentimental value based on occasion, person, style, etc. and one thing I realized was that each transaction had a certain uniqueness about it even if clients bought the same models. Each person's interest in a timepiece was for completely different reason.
Once I understood this I was able to start looking at crafting my messages and brochures differently for certain seasons/occasions (Mother's day, fathers's Day, Birthday, Anniversaries, Etc.)
Paying attention to the customer, helped me develop the right client profile, buying persona and a consultative sales approach to my sales.
The Digital Era Changes Everything! - Keron Rose
It's amazing when I look at how simple it is to do business online now, that wonder how even more successful would I have been in 2019 as opposed to 2012 if I stuck with it.
The two mediums I used between 2012-2014 were, email marketing and facebook posts. At the time I felt that this was so powerful because I never had to physically drive around to move it show product nor did I needed a physical location. This made my cost extremely low and allowed for more flexibility.
It also allowed me to reach and engage with more customers in a faster timeframe as answering their questions/comments online. Technology actually allowed me to create an Inbound sales strategy as opposed to OutBound.
Based on what your business model, starting a business in 2019 isn't as laborious as we once thought. The power of the internet gives us so much leverage with customers locally, regionally or internationally. My one main point would be to invest in a website and use all of the social media platforms to develop a sales funnel that meets your customer and drives your business’ growth.
Don't Be Traditional
Each time I walked through the malls and into a watch store I felt a sense accomplishment because I saw these traditional retail outlets were waiting for customers to enter, the sales reps were just there sitting behind the counter doing nothing while I was scouting looking for timepiece ideas to offer to new/existing clients. The model I was using at the time was still new, online stores/sales was new to even me but it did exist.
Between 2012 - 2019 we have seen retail chain after retail chain close their doors internationally. Locally, we are seeing a bit of the same on a macro and micro level all because many are being very traditional. Companies are yet to adopt a strong customer centric online approach and that's hurting their business to the point of closure.
Every time I considered if I should look for a physical location, my business model showed that it was not necessary.
Stick With It (Longterm Mindset)
The last point is really to stick with it. Far too often as entrepreneurs we get demotivated when things do not go the way we like. But, it all comes down to consistency, performance evaluation and patience. In sales it's the same thing once you are putting in the right work the results will begin to show.
I closed my doors to the timepiece business in 2014 for no other reason than to start another venture which is currently my consultancy firm OPAAT-SWY. In hind sight, I should have kept it running, because technology over the years only got better. Which would have allowed me to improve on my business model and sales funnel possibly automating most of the process and expanding on an additional stream of income.
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