3 facets of business you need to plan for in order to grow strong
by Christie Browning
The great part of starting a business is the creative aspects of taking your ideas and putting life into them to form a company. From colors to graphics to the name you pick -- it all shapes and defines your business and ultimately impacts your success.
But beyond the pretty, creative stuff that sometimes seems more important and might be more visual, the behind-the-scenes facets of your business can make or break your success. What are these exactly? I am so glad you asked!
Laying out the logistics
How are you going to fulfill orders? What's your process for setting up a new client? How do you structure your deliveries? What's your turn-around time for producing custom orders? These may seem insignificant questions as your business gets started because the demand isn't there just yet. It's tempting to just feel your way through and respond simply when an order comes in because it's manageable. However, I bet you don't intend to stay at that level. I bet you want to grow and get more orders and have more sales and bring on more clients!!!
As I have coached women in business over the years, I have seen a common approach to logistics -- a fake-it-until-you-make-it approach. Once the business gets busy or grows, then these businesswomen decide that the logistics will be important. But all too often, logistics become a bigger part of the puzzle than they anticipated. A couple of not-so-happy customers get upset when deliveries don't arrive on time. Or a mad rush at the holiday means an overwhelming amount of orders that create a backlog for shipping and fulfillment. Because logistics were spelled out, customers assumed orders would be shipped for the holidays. Assumptions and expectations can create quick issues for a growing business.
The lesson here -- logistics are important on day one! Take time to think about the business growing and scaling. How do you want to realistically handle the ins and outs of your business? Do you lean on a digital calendar online for clients to access and schedule appointments? Are you going to create a deadline for custom orders at the holidays? Are you going to use third-party services for packaging and shipping? All of these questions and so many more are good to have answers to as you get started. Of course, you can revise these along the way, but a starting point is the key for your new and growing business to be successful.
Put it on a platform
Where is your business going to operate online? Online exposure is huge for businesses! Are you going to launch your own site, join up on Etsy, sell on Ebay, lean on social media? All of these platforms are out there just waiting to showcase your products and services. But where do you begin and how do you decide?
Start by measuring the time you have to devote to the platform. If you are short on time, creating a website from scratch may be too much for the moment. However, joining a ready-made platform such as Etsy means you can launch a seller page within minutes and be selling your products in the same day.
Next, determine what your level of tech savvy-ness might be. If you aren't super confident when it comes to online design and using website templates, setting up your own site can be overwhelming. Now, there are tons of tutorials and most web template and design services have great tech support. Anyone can learn how to do this stuff, but you have to know what you feel comfortable with. If setting up your site freaks you out.... you'll probably never get it launched. So do what you feel comfortable with! Ready-made shopping sites like Etsy and Ebay are easy to join and provide support for new sellers.
You'll also want to look at the pros and cons on platforms. Although these ready-made online shops like Etsy are great, they come with a cost and a percentage of your sales are going to go to them for the courtesy of using their services. The other negative to these sites is that your product or service is living on the same platform as other crafters, designers, artists, etc. So it's likely that someone else is there doing what you do as well. It's hard to create a loyal following on these sites.
The other option is launching your own site with platforms such as Squarespace, Webly, Wix and Wordpress. These platforms allow you to connect your domain to their templates to create a custom site for you and your company.
Pencil in your policies
Much like logistics, policies work best when they are predetermined and not created on the fly when you are faced with an issue. How are you handling refunds? What about items that get damaged during shipping? Do you have a cancellation policy? Do you need to create a minimum purchase plan? How about a customer loyalty program or a reorder plan? Do you offer any product or service guarantees and how will you support those? These are all great policies to think through now, even if you are just starting. Brainstorm some ideas. Think about policies and procedures at your favorite stores or companies that are similar to yours. Do a little research. The time you take now to establish these policies will come back to you in great rewards!
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