At what point did you decide to start your business and then focus on it full time?
I decided to start a business right about the same time I was taking evening classes and working part-time. As I became more involved with day-to-day business tasks and necessities to make a start-up business click. Suddenly, my passion grew for my business and everything around it. I became self-motivated, and imagined what it would be like if I spent all my precious hours to build up my skill in this field.
I quickly came to a decision once I finished my classes at a junior college to focus on my business full time. I listened to my heart and followed my vision I had for what used to be my side business. As long as you are motivated, passionate, and determined to chase a vision, only you will know if you can achieve those collection of goals. I just had no time to accept anyone’s suggestions for careers at the time b/c I trusted my skills and put my commitment, passion, and dedication to work.
After the first year of filing my 1040 Federal Tax Returns, I realized my potential for continued growth only if I would just dedicate my full-time schedule to this.
Tell us a little bit about the business itself and what you offer.
The field of “Cosmeceutical Science” was interesting and grabbed my attention. I first started off by conducting lots of research of other cosmeceutical and scientific companies products’ to get a grip and understanding of what was involved, indication of the products, popularity, and competition. I further researched other company’s popular selling products and sought out to find solutions to create, design, advertise, market, and sell my own brand.
Although, I didn’t have, at the time, the understanding of all the complexities in product design and development, this was a starting point and learning experience on my own. I knew eventually moving forward in the future with new ideas and hopes of expansion, I had to get a system down which included hiring companies to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to create a finished product.
Our cosmeceutical scientific product and services we offer are to promote skin health, and to treat various problematic skin conditions based on individual preferences and skin types. Every product has different indications. I conducted a financial analysis on predicted gross sales amount as this was important to give me an estimated cost per dollar on the product sold as well as a gross profit analysis. Factor in other expenses such as costs of materials and goods, services, shipping, time, state and federal taxes, listing and selling fees from selling platforms, sales tax if applicable, etc.
This was motivating enough knowing the sales opportunity was endless. Always consider the current and estimated growing trend of your ideas to determine if a presented opportunity is worthwhile pursuing, nevertheless you want to make sure you offer “more”, than your competition. For example, you want to maximize the customer experience to a point where the customer feels safe, secure, appreciated, and comfortable coming back for future visits to become a continued customer, analogous to residual income based on the customer’s loyalty to your company.
As a small company, how do you help streamline the process with sales and customer support?
I hired experienced developers to design a professional e-commerce site fully equipped with a 3rd party shopping cart and all the merchant processing tools available to where a customer purchasing online would have all the available payment options to minimize cart abandonment and possibility of not being able to pay. I designed the site with safety and security measures and partnered with some of the largest site security authorities in e-commerce to allow customers to feel safe, secure, and protected while providing confidential information required to process an online transaction. Today, online buying has increased, yet unfortunately, the compromise of confidential information. More tools were implemented such as more crucial information, revisions to company policies, company videos, YouTube (if possible), Google translate to cater specifically to their native language to name a few.
Once you begin selling products or services, often times you will receive redundant questions from customers. Keep a spreadsheet, or word document file listing the most commonly asked questions followed with a professional response. Keep the file open when it comes time to answering customer e-mails. Customer e-mails can really eat up lots of valuable time. Your time is valuable and you want to utilize it as you would decide. Cutting and pasting responses will take seconds (with a bit customization catered to each customer), rather than wasting time typing redundant answers or answering similar questions. You want to utilize your time moving the company in a forward direction every day by having a new list of priorities. You want to refer to your list of responsibilities and goals, work towards those goals, then mark it off your to-do list. The lesser amount of time you can spend talking to or answering customer e-mails, the more time you can spend improving your product, brand, or enhancing other aspects of your product or service. You want the customer to feel convinced “Immediately” once they visit your site. Let your site do most of the work. Remember, it took countless hours to produce it, so let it work for you. Receive the order transaction, provide an exceptional product / service, and customer service!
Other channels for growth is through distribution. What has your experience been with that?
Some selling platforms will automatically accept you as a vendor, others require applications for acceptance into their selling program. Once again this comes down to professionalism. If required, provide samples of all your product, service, or a presentation on your company and what it can offer. Be prepared, provide a variety of marketing materials coupled with a professional letter on company letterhead and address it to the appropriate target audience. Send or present this packet of information to those interested in retailing your brand.
Your brand will be heavily considered for purchase if first, you have a quality product, and second, if you can present it professionally enough in a convincing manner! Follow-up is important. Politely follow-up with the potential client with an e-mail or phone call after your initial meeting to see their interest level and if they’d like to conduct business. It is up to you to determine whether they are truly interested, or just playing the role of someone who refrains from kindly telling you “no”, or “not at this time”. Remind them your product is the best product in the market for why they are interested and list all the benefits they will receive if they move forward. Stress the point that you offer the most competitive pricing and the best quality product. Continue attempting to contact them semi-aggressively until they elect to take themselves off the newsletter or if they tell you. Stay professional at all times.
For international customers inquires, shipping needs will differ from country to country. Set up an account with a specialist on a 3rd party shipping company and bargain for the bet wholesale rates possible since essentially the low rates will be passed down to the customer, and with better / lower shipping rates, the more likely they will want to move forward due to the overall lower prices. Let your customer know you are providing them wholesale shipping prices which are the lowest possible just for them!
As for getting products into retail stores, you want to be careful about this. I tell you this because retail stores will want to purchase your products for dirt cheap. You always want to offer a good price for bulk purchases, but not too low where your profit levels are just not there, or that you compromise the quality of the brand.
Remember as a business owner you are also going to be in charge of the company’s finances, so you need to carefully examine all the profits & loss, and spending reports. Become familiar with your federal and state income taxes (if applicable), as well as all fees associated to incorporate your company, business licenses, business expenses, the list goes on and on… Make the best decision possible in every category. Ask for advice from family or someone who has experience in business. Also, just as important it is to take on business responsibilities, make sure to have a fine balance between work and leisure. Remember, your time is valuable and nobody can tell you better how you should spend your time. Spend it wisely and make it count!