How did you push your business to grow?
I shared this a bit in this BTB post. Aside from what I shared there, leveraging social media has been a huge factor for EA! As I’m sure you’re aware, Instagram is king (at least, for now), so I made sure that we became consistent with utilizing that FREE tool to our advantage!
If you’re in a position of wanting to push your business to grow but don’t already have an audience to share with, I would suggest a few things to you.
- Develop strategic relationships with people you know or meet online! For example, reach out to bloggers/influences/shop owners and pitch ideas of how you two can work together to help each other out. The worst thing you’ll hear back is “no” (or nothing at all), so it’s worth a shot!
- Look into Instagram/Facebook ads, if the budget allows. That would be a great way to advertise to potential customers!
- Participate in local events. If you are selling a physical product, try to get a booth or table at a farmer’s market or creative market. If you think your goods would do really well with a pop-up at a coffee shop, retail store, or workout studio, pitch the idea to the owner.
What organizational routines and structures did you have to put in place?
I don’t operate well in disorganization or chaos. A cluttered space definitely causes a cluttered mind, for me, so I keep things pretty neat and tidy in my office. There’s a place for everything, which not only helps to keep my mind clear, but also contributes to efficiency. When I know exactly where something is, every single time I need it, I don’t waste time searching in drawers or cabinets for it!
In terms of keeping my thoughts organized, I use a physical planner to make notes about my weekly schedule – both work-related and life-related. I’ll write down workout classes, social commitments, which blog posts are going live on which days, as well as important EA dates, like sales, promotions, or other things. I also utilize the “notes” app on my iPhone and desktop all the time! That works really well for me to jot down ideas, keep a running list of things I need to buy, or flesh out a plan for an upcoming sale.
My assistant(s) and I use Google Docs to share ideas, collaborate on things, and keep up with what’s coming up.
I have a lot of information in a lot of different places, but these are the things that I’ve found to work best for how my brain processes things! It took awhile to develop a system (and could certainly be streamlined), but it’s working well for now, so I’m going to continue until that changes.
Do you handle all of your social media yourself?
I most certainly do not! Between running EA, writing and generating content for the blog, creating content and engaging with followers on my blog-related Instagram, and living my life outside of work, I don’t have the time! My social media assistant, Melanie, does 95% of the work on EA social media. I shoot the photos for Instagram, but that’s about it! She schedules the content, writes the captions, works on strategy, and so much more. She also handles all of the EA emails!
How did you know when to hire someone? How many people are on your team?
It was back in 2015 that I first started looking for someone to help me. I reached a point where I knew that I was holding my own self and my business back by not asking for help. I can do a lot of things, but I can’t do a lot of things well. I was looking for someone to help out with social media and marketing, as well as having an extra set of hands in the office for some packaging/shipping tasks, and another creative mind to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from. I was able to find someone who was a huge asset to me! She worked with me for just over 2 years and showed me that, like many things in life, it’s so important to ask for help and collaborate with others. She left her position at the end of last year (she’s pursuing her own business, which is amazing!), which is when I hired Melanie to take over the main tasks of the previous assistant. I also have an in-office assistant that helps me with a whole host of things. Aside from EA help, I have a talented woman that helps me with graphics and creative concepts for the blog! So, all in, between my two businesses, I have three people that work with me, doing different things. They’re all part-time and 2/3 are remote. They’re a gigantic help to me and allow me to focus on the things that only I can do, while being able to delegate to a group of trusted people that can do the rest!
Is Kate still in the business with you?
I took over the business in the summer of 2013!
When you started, was your goal to make a full-time income or did that happen by surprise?
I shared that it happened by surprise in this BTB post!
How did you know when to go full-time?
I shared that part of my story in this BTB post!
Do you ever go through slow periods? How do you make up for it?
For sure! The definition of a “slow period” has changed a lot as my business has grown, but they still happen! Q1 (Jan-March) is always the slowest of the year, as not many people are shopping just after the holidays. During those times, I’m focused on planning for the year – what products am I going to focus on, developing a sale/promotion calendar and plan for the year, and things like that. I also work on restocking after the holidays, since we usually sell out of a lot of items! After doing this for several year, I now anticipate less sales (which equals less income) during those couple of months, which means that I make sure to set aside a certain portion of income from the holiday season (the busiest season). Simply, I plan ahead for the slow season by making sure that I’m saving plenty during the busy season.
How do you plan for vacation time?
I just put up a notification on the website showing delayed shipping, letting my customers know when they can expect their order to be sent out. There isn’t much else that I do for EA for vacation – the shop stays open while I’m gone, so that customers can still shop and purchase things. I always plan for longer or extra work days, once I’ve returned from traveling, so I just set my expectations and mindset right!
What does your daily/weekly schedule look like?
It changes from day to day! I love the flexibility and variety that I am allowed. Since I have two businesses that I’m working on, my time is split fairly evenly between them. Nearly every morning of the work week, I head to my computer and work on fulfilling and shipping any EA orders that have come in. I don’t like the feeling of letting orders pile up, so I work on them almost every day, even if it’s just a couple to do. If there’s pressing EA business, I’ll spend my day working on that. It may be making/sourcing new products, shooting and editing photos for new arrivals for the site, updating the website, taking photos for my assistant for Instagram, planning out an email calendar, prepping for an upcoming sale or promotion, or something else. If I’m feeling pretty caught up on EA stuff for the day, I’ll switch gears and work of content and projects for the blog. That can involve anything from shopping for products for an upcoming campaign with a brand, planning a shoot, taking photos for Instagram, linking items, drafting posts, checking to see if any popular items are on sale or restocked, and more. There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that goes into both of my businesses, so I spend a lot of my days doing those things!
I typically start my workday by 7:30am and finish up by 6pm. Sometimes I’ll go to a workout class or run errands in the middle of the day, for a little break from the computer and to get out of the house. If I’m not traveling, I work Monday-Friday, just like anybody with a traditional office job!
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Behind the Business: Launching Elisabeth Ashlie