5 Mistakes I Made When Starting My Small Business
Like many entrepreneurs, I jumped into my small business excited and ready for all the possibilities. Owning and running a small business like Malt & Stone is a double edged sword, which was something I learned very quickly. While you are chasing your dreams, being your own boss, and setting your own hours, you are also the only person responsible for making all of those dreams a reality. It means late nights, it means sacrificing a night out with friends, and it means learning from your mistakes. My philosophy as an entrepreneur and small business owner, is to be genuine and transparent to all those that I encounter on my journey. Part of that transparency is helping other women who want to start chasing their dreams by sharing all the knowledge that I gained when first starting Malt & Stone...especially the mistakes! We learn most from the mistakes we make, and I hope that you can take the mistakes I first made as an opportunity to grow or start your own small business.
Here are the 5 mistakes I made when starting Malt & Stone:
This is the first step you should take if you’re looking to start your own small business! Figure out what licenses you need to sell or make your products. Doing this first will prevent you from bumping into any issues when you’re trying to make that first sale and of course reduce any issues moving forward. Taxes and end of year fees being collected by the IRS was a real point of worry for me. If you do not declare a certain amount of money for your business license there may be issues with the IRS come tax season. Of course, making an appointment with a CPA or tax professional may be a good idea when you start your small business so you know what steps you need to take!
Invest in the More Expensive Tool
I made the mistake of going for the cheaper tool at first; and this can be anything from a steamer to a website. Invest in something that has better usability, better customer service, or is just easier to function in general. Remember that time invested is more important than an initial lump sum. In other words, the cost of purchasing the item is justified if it’s something you’ll be depending on and using every day.
Focusing on Cute Shipping Materials
As consumers ourselves, we know that the packaging of an item is the first impression that we get of a brand. The cuter or more high quality packaging, the better experience we have with an item we purchase right off the bat. However, it is a mistake to spend too much time or money investing in the cutest possible or most expensive packaging when you are first starting out. Find packaging that suits your aesthetic and is within your budget when starting your small business, from there you can always upgrade!
Do Your Research on Sourcing
Depending on your business, you may have secondary companies that you work with to purchase wholesale items or supplies. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Especially if your products are marketed a certain way--”made in the US” or “sustainable”--make sure your brand is actually delivering on those promises. In my experience, many wholesalers say they are “made in the US” but actually just ship out their wholesale items from a US-based location when the items are actually made in other parts of the world.
Have an Elevator Pitch
While you, your friends, and your family may know your business’s philosophy and products, new customers will need a run-down on what you’re all about. Make sure to have a concise explanation of what your business does and what makes you unique. Imagine you’re at a pop up or a networking event and you get the question “so what do you do?” You need to be able to illustrate your story and your company’s mission in a quick and articulate way (and the next part is important) that your new customer can REPEAT to the next person they speak to. Word of mouth is the best way to market your business, and your elevator pitch is the start of that!
I hope this was helpful, if you use any of these in your small business I’d love to hear from you!