It’s no secret that transforming your passion into a serious business venture is more of an intimidating leap into the unknown than a few simple steps. Building an idea into a successful brand in today’s saturated market is no simple task. Consider that 50 percent of small businesses fail in their first four years, leaving many people’s dreams shattered.
However, with a solid business plan, a lot of research, and a niche that’s personal to you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t follow your dreams. There will be setbacks, and there will be doubtful spectators, but what kind of world would we live in if everyone with a great idea was too cautious to make it a reality? By persevering and never losing sight of my end goal, I was able to transform my passions and hobbies into a successful company. Here are a few tips that I learned along the way:
Invest Time Into Building an Online Presence
Whatever the concept or industry, establishing yourself and your message online before an official launch can work wonders for your brand. Before starting my business, I worked as a wedding photographer and soon realized I loved finding clothes that were both flattering and photogenic for women. As a result, I started my own fashion blog and received feedback from my readers that they wanted to hear about more feminine, beautiful clothing. This allowed me to connect with my audience and develop my own ideas in terms of who I wanted to target and what I wanted to say to them.
Starting a blog that’s relevant to the industry you’re entering is a great way to establish yourself as an expert on certain topics, influence future purchases, and create relationships with people that are based on more than just selling your product. Regularly putting out valuable content can also help you identify a style and voice that’s unique to you, setting your brand apart from the rest.
Standing out online is hard. Therefore, giving back to your potential customers, the vast majority of whom browse the internet more so to learn than to buy, not only establishes your brand with them, but builds trust too. In addition, the SEO value and increase in traffic generated by blogging provides significant value. Google loves valuable content, and small businesses with blogs actually experience 126 percent more lead growth than their non-blogging counterparts.
Undoubtedly, social media was an extremely useful tool in helping me build my image and connect with others in the industry. If you want to establish your individual style and message with millennials, opt for Instagram, as 90 percent of its users are under 35. And for networking, connecting with influencers on Instagram is a surefire way to boost brand engagement.
Instagram’s potential as a marketing tool shouldn’t be underestimated either. Sixty percent of people say they learn about a product or service on Instagram. Consistently engage with the influencers and communities within your industry, and you’ll be well on your way to building social media hype around your brand.
Don’t Be Afraid to Combine Concepts
Finding a concept that you love that also fits into a gap in the market can be tough, but it’s certainly not impossible. That’s why I founded my company, as I noticed a demand for elegant, feminine clothes that were reasonably priced. After the success of my online store, the idea of creating a concept space that combined a boutique store with an inviting cafe that encourages people to share experiences through shopping, eating, and drinking came about.
Having always been a foodie, I wanted to integrate this passion into my business. While travelling in Japan with my husband, I found inspiration in a cute cafe that was also a flower shop. It was a beautiful space that people could spend all day in, and I wanted to provide the same kind of experience for our customers. Enjoying something delicious in a stylish yet relaxing environment is something that I felt was missing in the market.
Whatever your passions, combining them in a creative way that fills a niche not only makes business sense, but also means you’re less likely to give up on something you care about. Make sure to research the discussions taking place around the industry you plan to enter so you’re aware of upcoming trends and moods. Using tools like Quora to ask questions to online communities can be amazingly useful in gauging response from your proposed niche.
Aim High … But Don’t Take on Too Much Too Fast
As the company grew, we started to encounter some obstacles. It was time to take a step back and reassess. Being a perfectionist, I was initially taking on a lot of the responsibility myself, doing everything from accounting to payroll to buying. Unsurprisingly, we soon ran into challenges managing inventory and maintaining daily operations at the necessary rate to support our growth.
While it’s important to grow, it’s more important to grow smart. Don’t take on more than you can handle physically, emotionally and financially, or you’ll be left exhausted, which is ultimately counterproductive. In fact, this isn’t uncommon for businesses that are just starting out. In fact, 77 percent of small business owners say they feel the effect of burnout at work.
We’ve spent the past year building a stronger team and learning to delegate a lot of responsibilities. The benefits of this are countless: as the brain’s decision-making powers are overworked, we stop being proactive and become reactive. Relieving some of this responsibility not only helped to make business operations run smoother, but it also took a lot of the stress off myself. I was finally able to focus more on my family and personal life.
Lastly, remember why you started in the first place — because of your hobbies and passions! It’s important to never lose sight of doing what you love. Nurture those creative channels. For me, I’m able to both relax with my family and gain inspiration by taking time out to travel and explore different cultures and cuisines.
With all this being said, starting your own business is certainly no easy feat. However, by finding your niche, laying the groundwork before you launch, and taking care to not take on too much too quickly, you’ll be on the right path to transforming your passion into a successful business. Nurture your creativity, establish the uniqueness of your voice, and invest in a solid team, and consumers will find it hard to not pay attention to your brand and its message.
Kim Le Pham is the founder and CEO of Morning Lavender, a fashion boutique curated for the everyday woman.