This lovely little logo is for a shop opening July 4th in Michigan. It will stock lovely homemade/handmade/imported oddities like Lula Bee’s own honey, caramels, rock candy, and wine making kits; as well as imported coffee from Costa Rica, Indian spices, milk from local farms, homemade terrariums and craft supplies.
It reminds me often when I finalize a logo design for a client that is about to venture out into the world and open up shop — why I love my job. I enjoy being there for you when your passion becomes profit. I want to see you succeed in your local area, that often might be struggling to keep the local business a float. It’s tuff. It’s stressful, I know! You get your logo, you open up your online shop or presence, then put your product on shelves. You start this new endeavor without knowing if it will succeed and for how long.
But I commend you for you taking that leap and saying to the world, “I’m here and I’ve got something to give back to you!” I have no problem chatting with my clients often about what they can do and who they can reach out to in their area to boost profits and shop awareness. Most of the time these artisan creators are experts in what they make, but they may be starting out inadvertently causing themselves more headaches then they need.
Yes, in a perfect world after you’ve made your physical shop the way you want it with nice shelving, decor, set up Wi-Fi, set up payment procedures, etc; you create the product, sell, and repeat. However, there are a few things in between that make sure this cycle stays seamless and always running on full power.
- Are your products branded? Lula Bee has a logo: which now represents the Lula Bee brand. Her bottled honey and wrapped caramels need her new logo on their packaging which is being printed as I write this. A good packaging design and the label will sell the product before the customer even has a chance to look at what it is exactly. Lula Bee’s other products like her DIY wine making kits and tea bags needs to have custom boxes and tea tags with her logo on them. Everything else needs a branded price tag or price sticker.
- Can people find out about you easily? Location is everything and if a potential customer can’t find you via Google Maps, you’ll lose traffic. Start off, before even opening the physical location creating a Google My Business page and get yourself verified on Google Maps via signing up for Google My Business. Whether you intend to have a website or not, this will drastically help you come opening time when people just hearing about you, need to google where to find your address. This also helps in SEO and online presence, but we’ll get into that later. Make haste to add info like operation hours as well. Which leads into the next important thing to think about.
- Will people notice your new shop when they drive by? A brand spanking new sign with your new logo is a must. Yes, this is an expensive asset — but needed. If you don’t want to pony up the dough for expensive signage just yet: a great window display will need to suffice. Either a giant window decal of your new logo or awesomely staged products in the window with signage near by will draw the eye of the passerby’er.
- Set your store hours and KEEP THEM! I don’t know how often I stress to my startup shop clients, that hours of operation is way to build trust with your customers. Let’s say you have, on a bad day, only 4 customers entering your store by Noon with no sales. You think, meh! I’ll just close up for the day and go home since I’m just sitting here while no one is coming in anyways. In the first year of opening up, some days are hit or miss — when it comes to traffic. Don’t fret — keep trucking along and make sure you have small tasks in between customers to keep you busy on slow days. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR HOURS BASED ON TRAFFIC! A new business that does this will find they anger more people driving by one day when they are open and trying to open a locked door the next day around that same time in the day. Those people whose first experience of your store is that one, will never come back. Ever!
- Build a Website or Online Store. The economy these days isn’t too welcoming to first-time business owners in their first 1–2 years of operating. So having an online store can really help move sales along during the slows months of local business (like winter in the Midwest). At the very least, have a website with info on your shop, contact info and form, and other features.
- Social Media is your friend. Now I know this is the bane of some people’s existence, but please open up to the idea of at least having a Facebook page for your business where people can find you on there and look up store hours and location. If you want to sell products (which, well, duh!) social media posts about new products you have in store or events you are hosting at the shop will spread the word that you are a professional business in this day in age. Trust me, there is a whole wave of generations that now think if an establishment doesn’t have a Facebook page, they’re not even open. Don’t just stop at Facebook though; Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr are all your friends too! Especially for shop owners, invest in a good camera or at least good camera phone to take photos of the product and shop itself to add to these social media pages often.
- Ask for feedback on how you’re doing! When being the new shop in town, you want honesty from your new customers about what you can improve on or what they like about your business. In the first few months hand out cards with purchases that prompt new people to review on Facebook or Google as well submit a comment card back to you. This will help gain the trust of new customers and also help you realize what you need to work on and keep up with.
- SCHMOOOZE… Network in your area. Join organizations, Area of Commerce, and volunteer to make friends in commerce and gain customers. Especially in the first few years of opening, if there is an event in your town, go to it. Always bring business cards or wear a branded t-shirt or name tag. If you sell food items like Lula Bee, offer to have some samples at the event that provides food or drinks. Set aside some product for non-profit auctioning events to get people interested in your products or become a sponsor of a non-profit to get your logo on their event info.
- Business Listings are also your friend. List your business everywhere! Yellow Pages, Yelp, TripAdvisor, skies the limit. For a great checklist to show you where to add listings, head to Manta.
- Be professional. This seems like common sense, right. The owner of Lula Bee and I have had long conversations and a few laughs recently during the logo design process about how astounding it was to find out that most “professionals” and business owners are well, very unprofessional. If you are a business owner, present yourself in a certain manner. Be honest with people — don’t fib about product info! No matter how comfy they are don’t wear sweat pants while the shop is open. While I don’t like that this is apart of our human culture, people associate how well dressed you are with the quality of your business or products. Especially if you are cute shop that sells niche items. Try to avoid any conversations with customers that would bring about different opinions like politics, people, etc. Do not gossip or bad mouth other businesses! Always be selling. Above all, respond to customer questions in person or online quickly. Even if they are negative be as polite and jolly in trying to rectify the complaint or need.
- ABC (Always Be Closing) Just a little retail slogan used to describe a sales strategy in which a salesperson or shop owner (and even freelancer) should constantly look for new customers, pitch your products to customers and complete the sale. Be persistent, but not pushy or pressure people into sales. Always start up conversations in your store about what they are looking for or interested in.
Just to name a few, for success! 8 Create can, of course, help in all these areas with competitive pricing and support. This list above all though is to help you succeed in areas, like most new business owners that you may not be too fluent in. Things take time to build confidence in your success and longevity of your business. Hang in there through the roller coaster of emotions of being a small business owner. And remember if you need to rant about the roller coaster ride, I’m always here to listen!