It doesn't take a genius to see the whirlwind that COVID-19 has brought to households and businesses this year. Many of us adapting to working from home, being furloughed or made redundant.
The world of UK retail has transformed with more than 85,000 businesses launching online stores or joining online marketplaces in the last four months, according to research from Growth Intelligence. 2020 will officially be known as the year of the side-hustle.
We started this venture during the pandemic because we saw a need to familiarise ourselves with more small businesses making and doing wonderful things. To support those striving to make a difference, to fanfare the ambitious, the talented and kind. We feared it was going to be complicated, hard and time-consuming but when building something you love you don't notice any of this. If you have a great idea - run with it, you never know where it may take you, and there is so much help out there, but this is where we think you should start...
1. Think of a good name, then own it
You have your idea, great, now to think of a name. Word-cloud the keywords that denote what you stand for, what you do and what you want to achieve. How does your product solve a problem? Then go to Instagram and see if it's available - can you find a version that works? Are you going to build your business with just a Facebook page for now? That's a great place to start but if your plan is to develop a website, you can look at the likes of Google domains or 123 reg and purchase a domain for as little as 0.99p for your first year.
2. Create a brand image
What does your identity look like? Make a mood board! This can take time but fortunately there are some great tools that can help. Go to Coolor and create your perfect palette.
3. Build your website
If you choose to launch with a website straight away, there are a number of website building platforms like Wix, Squarespace, Wordpress & Shopify - that are very simple to use - you don't need coding skills or have to pay someone hundreds to build it for you. But what is your budget? How much do you have to make to cover your 'operational costs'? All websites come at a cost but you don't always need the most expensive plan to build your presence online. You can build a Wix (non-transacting site, like ours) from £8 per month or a Shopfiy (which allows you to sell online) from about £22 per month.
4. Design your assets
Get yourself on Canva (you can try their pro version for free for 30 days) then its £10.99 per month and will allow you to design all of your marketing materials; from presentations and posters to social posts and videos . You can also sign up to the free version of Planoly to help share your story on Instagram.
5. Source sustainable packaging
If you are making and selling goods you're going to need quality and sustainable packaging - in-fact we insist upon it. As champions of using British suppliers - (follow us and we'll share these in another post shortly), to keep costs and our carbon emissions down, it's important to source these in the UK. Try looking for those that are recyclable (we hear stickers can be a tricky one, but we'll help you there too), or where possible re-usable.
6. Create your content plan
Content, content, content... it's all anyone talks about and there seems to be a million ways to do it. (It doesn't help that LinkedIn has just released their version of stories now too), but it's super important to spread your message far and wide. We manage a 'shared note' to help keep our ideas in check and use our phone diaries to sync announcement launches.
7. Know your audience
Do you know your target audience? Follow some #tags on Instagram or Facebook. Try thinking about your buying habits - how do you shop, what do you search for? Chances are your consumers will do the same if not similar. Don’t over complicate things, go with your gut and do what you believe will work then expand it from there. It’s all trial and error and you have to start somewhere.
8. Spread the word
Tell your friends and family and ask them to share your story and your business to get it out there. You don’t need huge marketing budgets to make it work, just a network of amazing people prepared to support you! Social media connections and Instagram followers, ask these guys too. This year is all about supporting each other so go for it!!
9. Keep an eye on your costs
These can get away from you if you're not careful. make an admin spreadsheet - yawn we know! But when Dragons Den come calling you are going to be thankful you know your outgoings like the back of your hand.
10. Enjoy it!
This is your business! Congratulate yourself and celebrate all the milestones, even the first order, the first 100 followers. You are a business owner, a founder, an entrepreneur. For now this is all that matters. Registering your business and bigger marketing campaigns can follow, but your first few months at least should be about networking, awareness and fun. This is the time you establish your identity and message.
We are loving seeing all of the new businesses that are thriving out of this pandemic. As sad as the situation is, we're firm believers in the saying..."It's what we do next that counts".