All during the month of January, Lonesome Pine Quilts is celebrating it's 10 year anniversary. We will continue throughout the month to extend 10% off to our customers for 10 years of faithful patronage. Over that 10 years, I have learned a few things about starting a small business in Arkansas. Today I would like to share with you 5 of those things that I have learned.
1--Make a 5 year plan. And be specific in your plan. Set at least one goal for your business to reach every year, and then work toward those goals. Plan out the location, the name of your business, necessary license for your business, set up accounts with wholesalers for inventory for your shop, make a budget, and register with the state for monthly sales tax to be paid.
In year #1 for my business, my goal was just to get the store open and stocked with as much merchandise as my budget would allow. In year #2, my goal was to become a vendor for quilt shows in order to market my new business for possible customers.
At the end of my first 5 years, I looked back on my plan to find that I had met all my first 5 year goals for my business.
2--Set Back Money To Grow On. Before you open your business, make sure you have plenty of capital set back for growth. In the first 5 years of business, you will make very little profit if any at all because you are putting all the money you make back into your business to grow your inventory. So don't plan to make a profit in the first 5 years. Use your capital you have set back to subsidize your business those first 5 years.
3--Location! Location! Location! The old movie line "If you build it, they will come" is not necessarily true. Rather it should say "If you build it, market and sell it really well.....THEN they will come." If there are no other businesses that sell the same product in your area, there could be a reason for that. Maybe there is no demand in that location. But on the other hand, it might mean that the people in that area WOULD buy your product if someone was willing to take the risk. Someone told me once, "risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down." So with a lot of prayer, I took the risk, and with the Lord's help, I've been building my wings on the way down.
4--Keep New Inventory. I love going into shops to see what is new. If I go back to that store several times and it's always the same old products...I don't go back. I have learned that if you want to keep customers coming in, you have to offer them new and exciting products.
5--Don't Put Your Eggs All In One Basket. Don't put all your hopes just into storefront sales. Some days it's phenomenal, but some days you may not have a single person come in (especially when the weather does not cooperate). Look for other ways to market your business besides just brick and mortar storefront. Set a goal to create your own website. Market your products on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, eCommerce, and other online platforms. And don't just choose one. Open more than one online store. It takes work, but it keeps your doors open when the storefront is slow.
Before I opened my small business, I took a class on HOW TO START A SMALL BUSINESS IN ARKANSAS. In that class, the teacher told me that most small business close in the first 5 years. But that if you could stay open 5 years, you could stay open 10 years. And if you could stay open 10 years, you could stay open as long as you want. Well, we survived 5 years and now 10 years, and we are excited about what's in store for Lonesome Pine Quilts in the next 10 years.