How to Start a Business at Any Age: Part 6

I’m still in business! I netted $28.20 since Feb. 22, when I launched. My gross profit was much higher, of course, but after I subtracted the base price of my shirts and mugs (Cost of Goods Sold), the money I paid the designers from Fiverr (Contract Labor), and what I paid for Facebook ads, it all comes down to “retained earnings” of $28.20, and I didn’t even keep those, because I promised 10% of the gross to SySTEM Schools, the STEM charter school for high needs kids in downtown Phoenix, so I gave SySTEM $41.00.

After six weeks, I haven’t myself taken anything from the business, InspirationsFromFrancine, but I’m not there yet. I’m still learning all the things I thought I knew from being a coach, but have learned in a new and deeper way from operating the business.

  1. Contract labor can give you a product that isn’t what you wanted if you don’t make yourself clear enough the first time
  2. Facebook ads don’t really convert for physical goods, unless you get your audience narrow enough, and that is amazingly difficult to do
  3. Your own friends will support you once, and then cease to engage. After all, how much stuff can they buy.
  4. My mugs sell better than my t-shirts
  5. Messages that are meaningful to me sell better than random messages
  6. The “sport” of internet marketing requires unbelievable focus, concentration and perseverance
  7. All those gurus who tell you how to sell using Facebook ads must be followed to the letter, which is incredibly labor intensive, for them to work

8. Each pivot brings me closer to the goal: I’ve changed ad strategies, product mixes, contractors and messages in an almost constant iterative process, which is right out of the Lean Startup methodology — and which really works. I take all customer feedback.

9. Money is important to most people, who do not have any to throw around. I throw more money around to support the endeavors of strangers on IndieGoGo than my Facebook friends have thrown toward me. This could depress me if I let it. I don’t.

10. Even micro entrepreneurship, like what I’m doing, is energizing and compelling.

My next move: after attending Laura Fitton’s workshop on inbound marketing, I realized that I was using my Facebook brand page all wrong. I was using it as too much of a selling tool and not giving anything back. So I am going to make a slow transition of it into an inspirational blog. I still think people need inspiration. I know I do.

NB: When I started, I named my page InspirationfromFrancine, and then named my ViralStyleStore “InspirationsFromFrancine.” I’m trying to decide whether the names should be the same for brand consistency, or different since all the items in the store ARE plural and the Facebook page is singular:-) Experts?

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