It’s been awhile since we have posted on our blog; so to kick it back into gear, I am writing about 10 things I wish I knew before starting Al-Lex.
1. Staying positive is very important.
Starting your own business is scary. Sometimes you’ll have big wins and sometimes you’ll have big losses. It’s important to celebrate every win, even the tiny ones. But it’s equally important, if not more important to not dwell on the failures. Failures happen a lot; learn from them but don’t beat yourself up about it.
2. Engaging an audience is HARD.
Starting a business is hard on its own, but an online business seems so much harder. Having an online business means you’re not selling products, you’re selling your brand and people happen to buy products because of it. We are still learning how to best support our online customers and help them get to know us better as people and as a brand.
3. Packaging matters.
Happy mail is the best mail, we all know it. Online stores have an advantage with that, EVERYONE loves getting a new package. However, if you want to be different than all the other packages your customer is getting, make the unboxing an experience. We have really been focusing on this in the past couple weeks. If you haven’t ordered in awhile, test it out and see how much our packaging has improved!
4. Growth is a STEEP uphill climb.
Growth is hard. Getting people to follow you is hard. Branching out of your business comfort zone is hard. Some days I feel like growth is a flat, vertical wall that we have to climb. But with that, we celebrate every new follower we get. We are so thankful for everyone who supports our dream. And even though sometimes growth seems impossible, we really do see growth every week, even if it’s just one more website visitor than last week.
5. It’s really hard to balance everything.
Working full time, going to school full time, volunteering at church AND owning and operating a business makes life a roller coaster and it is certainly never boring. It’s hard to stay focused on life when you always want to work on your business. It’s important to manage your time wisely and plan ahead, especially when you have a lot on your plate.
6. Networking can do amazing things.
Meeting people in your industry is awesome. For one, you get to make new friends who have similar passions as you but you also get to learn from them and see them grow on their business journey. Don’t be afraid to ask successful business owners questions because it can help improve your business a lot!
7. You have to RUN a business, all the ins and outs.
Don’t get me wrong, I love running my own business, but when we first started, we didn’t realize how much of the “backend” work we would have to do. It’s not just making designs and shirts, having photo shoots and fulfilling orders. It’s paying taxes, staying up to date on ALL expenses, tracking miles, counting inventory, checking analytics, pulling reports, posting exciting content every single day. It gets exhausting some days, but it is well worth the investment of time and money because we are doing something we love.
8. Pricing is SO important.
We put so much time into our shirts. We spend HOURS making designs, we spend HOURS assembling the shirts, we spend HOURS taking product photos and we spend HOURS promoting all of our products. Time is money and it’s easy to forget that. We price our shirts based off of how much we paid for each piece that goes into each shirt but also the time that goes into each shirt because our time is valuable. We have to price our products so that the time we put in will pay off, and you should too if you are starting a business!
9. People will ask you how it’s going ALL THE TIME.
It's really awesome to have a support system. It’s fun to tell people that were doing great when we really are. It can feel disappointing when were not though. The question itself is a great reminder that people care how we are doing, and that in itself is a victory.
10. You will never know what the consumer wants, EVER.
When we launched our first t-shirt collection, we were unsure of one of our designs, the KC Love tee. We thought it was too simple and there were too many Kansas City shirts in existence already. Boy were we wrong. That was our best selling shirt that collection and continues to be one of our best selling shirts to this day. We can’t be certain on what the consumer wants, so we just need to sell products that we are proud of and that we enjoy making.
Chasing your dreams is fun and can be so rewarding. If you are wanting to start your own business, my best advice to you is do your research and have fun with it.
I hope you enjoyed and learned a lil something!