When I decided to start my online modest clothing business, the thought of it nearly terrified me, because I had never considered myself as someone who could self promote or represent a brand. But the desire to showcase my passion for sewing and designing grew strong as I was already running a successful business from home anyways, so I told myself, how hard could it possibly get.
I took a big plunged, created a business account on Instagram and viola I was like easy paezy or so I thought!
What I did not expect was the time and effort it would actually take to be recognized on a platform that had over one million business individuals doing the exact same thing I was planning to do. The more I tried to be consistent with networking, the more I kind of felt discouraged that I wasn’t growing a fast following, but that never deterred me as I kept on pushing.
When I noticed things were not moving as fast as I wanted, I became overly overwhelmed and discouraged and gradually l started losing faith in myself and my confidence began to diminish until it started affecting my creativity.
I would go on Instagram and spend literally hours scrolling and comparing myself to others…. oh how I wish I could take those hours back.
So I stepped away from everything and decided to evaluate the situation;
Here are few of the things I noticed l did wrong and how I am now gradually rebuilding by myself and my business.
Do your Research
Trust me when I say this is the very first thing you should before even telling anyone about your idea. I had this amazing idea of creating an online custom-made modest clothing business, because I noticed there was not a lot of custom-made clothing for Muslim girls and women to choose from in Canada.
I plunged into the idea without really finding out what it entails to start an online clothing business, especially a custom serviced based one at that… The branding, production process, the packaging, shipping, customer satisfaction, so many things that entails having a successful business.
Trust me, having your products online doesn’t actually make it any easier than having a physical store. You should know your capabilities, your limits, your weakness, the pros and cons of the business you intend to start. Sometimes we only plan for the perfect outcome, always forgetting that things could actually not go as planned.
So the first thing I would say is write yourself a business plan and list all the successes and possible obstacles you might face along the way. I know to some people writing down obstacles might sound as being counter productive or setting yourself up for failure, but trust me when I say things don’t always go as planned as we want them to, but at least you had a foresight of what’s coming ahead and planned out solutions to solve it, rather than putting yourself in a business coma.
Don’t waste your time on Social Media following popular accounts to notice you
I was so guilty of this, following some random accounts simply because they were popular and I wanted in a way to get noticed by them, thinking that would help my business.
Sadly it doesn’t always work out to be successful in the long-term, everyone is busy with their own hustling. Instead concentrate on the values you are providing you little amount of followers.
If you know someone or a brand isn’t going to bring value to your life and business, why follow them in the first place. Rather concentrate on your immediate niche, follow accounts that have and share similar interest and values as yours, eventually you will grow. Good things takes time.
Don’t loose yourself, remember your voice, your purpose, your mission, don’t get carried away with the highlights of other people’s business. Social media isn’t what it seems, your number of followers doesn’t necessarily equate sales or success, but the value and services you offer will definitely go a long way. If you are still following some accounts that are not bringing value to you, please unfollow them, it’s not worth your time.
Invest time in your skill/creativity
For me I was so much in a hurry to get myself out there I did not have a constructive plan of how things would work. I didn’t put into consideration that I would have to have a team to help build this business plan of mine. So time management and being good in what you have to offer your prospective clients is extremely important, as that helps in boosting your confidence about what services you have to offer.
Whatever it is you are doing, the ultimate rule for us introverts is for us to be the best as we can be in our skills, because most time that is what we are mostly remembered for as we don’t really like to promote ourselves when it comes to what we do. So make sure to have samples of your best crafts, that can at least help you promote your business to get the conversation going.
Be consistence in putting your content or business out there
Get a domain name, build a website, start a blog, there are a lot of free resources out there that teaches you how to start a business, go through them. Pinterest and YouTube are the two main platforms I learnt from that has helped me in building my website myself. It is really not as complicated as it seems.
The knowledge is out there, you just have to push yourself to be disciplined enough to make things happen. Having a business is not for the faints at heart. The next step is to be consistent in putting your content out there, even I, still struggle with this as I take too much breaks away from my social media platform which is my number one marketing place.
If you don’t put your content out, no one will know about what you have to offer. So overcome that fear of putting your business or content out and you would start seeing feed backs and that will hopefully motivate you to stay consistence.
Find your niche and get your tribe
Finding your niche can just be as simple as going through your social media platforms or local Facebook groups in your area to find people with similar content or lifestyle as yours and interact with them. They don’t have to be your potential clients but they can definitely help you in promoting or getting your name/brand out there.
Be real and sincere, create get bonds and connections, give out advice, help in giving out solutions to problems, trust me, we are all facing one difficulty in one form or the other, so find yourself that tribe that gets you, a place you feel you belong.
As introverts, good personal relationship and experiences will always bring us positive feedback. I have had many referrals based on the fact that a particular client was impressed I listened to what they had to say and gave them exactly what they wanted and advised them on what service options will suit them perfectly. So listen and connect and serve!
Get a good online accounting and marketing system
An example of an accounting system, where your client can pay for your service is Paypal. It is secured and they only take a little fraction percent of the total cost of product sold. I would advice you start small and gradually build your way up until you have enough cash flow to set up a better account system.
For marketing, you can have sponsored paid Ads to run any of your marketing post on any of your social media platforms. For as low as $3 per post on Facebook, you can get to a far wider reach than you depending solely on word of mouth to get your business out and this will also help you to create more quality content on your social media platforms to promote your business.
Setting up your business in the professional way from the start will make you more focused and push you to be proactive in decision making for growth.
Do not compare
Comparison is the stealer of joy, never ever feel the pressure of comparing yourself to someone else, find your own rhythm and stick to it. There are a lot of people out there that would like exactly what services you have to offer. Your chapter 1 is definitely going to be different from someones else chapter 10.
So there is absolutely nothing wrong with you being a beginner and making mistakes along the way. You can be inspired but never feel the need to copy or aspire to be someone else, simply become the best version of yourself and concentrate on what you and your business has to offer.
Focus on the long term
As introverts, we should always think of long-term goals for our businesses, because most time we don’t get recognized immediately for our skills or talent like extroverts, that can easily transfix the world with their charismatic charms.
Most times, it always seem like they get the most attention and the most opportunities, but that shouldn’t make you give up or start feeling jealous or sad.
Focus on you and you will start seeing results, trust me it will be okay, just never give up.
‘As introverts, we know more than we say, think more than we speak and observe more than people credit us for’
So when things starts to get overwhelming and confusing, step away from everything and take space for yourself and your sanity. Remember your wealth is from Almighty God, what is yours will always come to you and what is not yours simply isn’t.
This is a wide topic and I can’t possibly give its full justice, but this is the steps I have taken and am still working on to set up my business on the right path.
Are you introvert? Leave any advice or additional helpful information below that can help us all jump-start our businesses or careers. Or just our basically help us live our best lives in this extroverted world.
Thanks and God bless.