I’m no where close to my goal but I’ve learned a lot from starting a business in my closet.
I want to share with you a few important lessons that I’ve learned:
1. I paid a marketing company for leads. I paid per referral and it was the best way to start marketing my organization services to high end clients. Now, I only work through referrals but it was worth every penny for the leads generated.
2. Customer service is number one, especially as a Black owned business. I send customers a follow up mail flier with additional discounts for referrals and offer a discount for future services. I want my clients to know how important their business is to me. I will refund a service if someone isn’t happy or offer to redo the job. It’s not personal if it’s business.
3. I paid a company to help generate traffic on social media. I had thousands of followers within a few months. But I had absolutely no feedback, only likes and follows. So we canceled the service. It takes longer to grow an authentic following but good things take time. And it’s taking forever to clear out all the bots.
4. I’m not an attorney or an accountant. To ensure your business is handled properly, hire a professional. If you don’t have one, ask your fellow entrepreneurs for a referral. Delegate what you don’t know to a professional. And there’s always Legal Zoom to help you get started. They also offer payment arrangements to help work within your budget.
5. Barter your services. My first red carpet hosting job was for a charitable event. I did the event Pro Bono and included my manager, his date, my two girlfriends and my assistant instead of taking a salary. They all came to support the event, made donations and invited others the following year. See how that worked out!
6. Everyone is not going to support your service. Don’t take it personal. I don’t. Not many of my friends have thousands of dollars in their closet that they can declutter or wish to have organized and color coordinated. Not everyone listens to podcasts or understands how to download and subscribe for an episode. Not everyone appreciates my Southern dialogue on a podcast. Most importantly, a lot of people do not shop resell or have a desire to have someone else’s used items. I get it! So appreciate the customers that do use your service and offer them courteous and professional assistance. I have over ten thousand followers on Poshmark that make a purchase at least once a week. That means when I wake up, something has sold from my closet. I am grateful for that! I do not stress over social media likes and follows, they do not pay the bills. And I don’t have a traditional “business page”. I post my personal experiences so that those who support me also have an idea of who I am. Besides, no one ever really “likes” a business page.
7. Your network is your networth. Having a great support group is important. Contact your alumni, your Greek organization, the charitable groups that you volunteer for, and let your church know that you have started a business. These groups help spread the word. Partnering up your services is also a great way to get added support. My friends have all posted and shared my ads through their social media accounts and my family have referred me to their neighbors and coworkers. Also, having girlfriends who are entrepreneurs is encouraging because we share business ideas and feedback as well as keep each other inspired.
8. Paying for ads does not always pay off… but I learned in Marketing class that advertisement cannot be measured and any ad is considered priceless. How do you measure feedback from a billboard? You don’t. All it takes is the right person to see your campaign to hire you. So don’t be discouraged by the analytics or lack of response. (Imagine paying thousands of dollars on a billboard while people speed by on the freeway.) Run an ad and hope someone wants your service but don’t consider it as the best way to grow your business. There isn’t one way. Just find what works for your services and keep using that method. Until then, try them all!
9. Don’t give up, take a break. Give yourself a vacation and redirect your energy for a few days or weeks to consider how much you love your business and why you started it in the first place. I have done closets for years, for free. I absolutely love what I do, so I do not stress about meeting a financial goal at this time. I find new ways to love what I do and that always brings me the motivation that I need to succeed.
10. Don’t quite your day job. Again, finances can be unpredictable in the beginning. You’ll find yourself making a profit but will need to reinvest in your business to see it grow to it’s full potential. Websites, business cards, and marketing campaigns cost. In the meantime, keep your job so that your personal expenses are met while you hustle to grow your business. Honestly, I love working in corporate and I cannot imagine myself leaving. (Most people hate working a 9-5 but I absolutely love it!) Having multiple streams of income is a blessing and finding unique ideas to generate a profit is pretty cool.
The first time a client hired me to do a closet I was still in disbelief. I could not believe that I was actually hired to do something that I had been doing for free! After I was paid, I got in my car and cried. My client had just paid me hundreds of dollars to do something that I loved. It didn’t seem real. I thanked God for my creativity and His wisdom for giving me the idea and instruction to use my talent. I am still honored today and every time I am hired for my talent, whether speaking on a podcast, a red carpet or organizing a home. And thank all of you for celebrating three years with me. Cheers to many years of referrals and added success!