This month on February 12, marked 5 years in business for AromaSoy. It feels like crossing a pretty big threshold to have come this far. When you start a business, people are quick to point out how often businesses fail. Oftentimes female run businesses are treated more as hobbies rather than “serious” businesses. Well, my business DID start as a hobby, but that doesn’t make it any less of a business now!
As I reflected on these five years, I wanted to share with you all five things I learned that I hope may be helpful to you in some way.
1. Set your goals on paper
I started setting yearly goals (at the beginning of each year) in year 3, which made the biggest difference in the growth of my business. The key is to set realistic goals. For example, last year one of my goals was to add 50 new wholesale accounts, which then I broke down to needing to add 5 new wholesale accounts every month. And you know what? I did reach that goal! Here is a detailed blog post to help you MASTER goal setting the easy way.
2. Test the market before buying in bulk
At first, I didn’t test the market, I didn’t know which candles people liked or disliked. I started with over 40 candle scents, stocking up my shelves with candles that ended up not selling and wasting money on supplies and time on production. At the end of the year, I had so much inventory to write off! It made me cringe at the thought of wasting all of that money on supplies and my time (that I didn’t have to begin with, having a 1-year old by my side). Now, I only have 10 non-seasonal candle scents that are top sellers all year round and I can barely keep up with the demand and stocking up on, because they constantly sell out! So, less is more and starting small at the beginning is the way to go in my opinion.
3. Honor your work hours
It took me sometime to figure out how to balance work and personal life. When working from home, it’s easy to get sucked in to trying to work all day around the clock - there’s always work to be done. This was frustrating to me, my husband, and our son, because I was always on the phone replying to messages, or packaging orders at 7pm. I really struggled at the beginning until I came across the book “The Business Boutique” by Christy Wright. I love the part where she talks about blocking time, setting your work hours and clocking out at the same time every day. This has been the biggest change for me. By blocking time, I was able to focus on my business and double profits every year. So here’s my work schedule if you’re curious:
4:30 am - 6:30 am: computer work
6:30 am - 9:00 am: breakfast with family, getting lunches ready, school drop off
9:00 am - 2:00 pm: candle production, packaging orders, recording videos.
After 2:00 pm, I’m done. I pick up my son from school and it’s family time for the rest of the day.
4. Don’t be afraid to make changes that will allow you to scale the business
Buying supplies in bulk at the beginning is not always a good idea. Start small and test, test, test until you are happy with the supplier. Before I thought unique jars would sell well, until they didn’t sell well at all! Turns out people tend to like something simple. Also at the beginning I gave people the option of doing custom candles. Not doing custom options allowed me to streamline my inventory and take control of cash flow. For me it didn’t work, I couldn’t scale the business, so I had to acknowledge that it wasn’t working for me. That’s when I took the leap and began to focus more on wholesale buyers, which is now 80% of my income.
5. Get great branding
Really think about what you want the end product to look like in terms of branding. I got a logo designed professionally, and I was able to make cohesive packaging and everything else as a result. Shout out to Viktoria of @viksam.art for doing a great job for me! This is NOT something to cheap out on. Yes you can design your own logo for free but if you’re not a graphic designer it just won’t look like it’s supposed to. Paying someone $50-100 will be money well spent. Once I had my branding figured out, stores and businesses started finding me on Instagram to place wholesale orders! Game changer! Branding is crucial and I’m so glad that it was one of the first things I did in my business.
Thanks for reading!