Author Topic: Should I keep the side business?  (Read 7748 times)

dz1087

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Should I keep the side business?
« on: January 03, 2015, 12:34:59 PM »
Last March I started a small side business selling eco friendly men's accessories.  I was rather discouraged at the time with my career and wanted a change and a challenge.  So, I built a small website, bought some inventory and started a few small advertising campaigns using some money I had leftover from a business trip. 

Anyway, to date, I have not sold one thing.  I have been experimenting with instagram, Facebook and Reddit for advertising.  The price point is definitely not mustachian, but is very high quality stuff.

At this point I could try to contract out some marketing services or fold it up and try to sell what I have on Ebay.  I've got about 1200 left in the account that the mustache in me wants to invest it, but the other part of me doesn't want to give up on this endeavor.

Murse

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 12:59:25 PM »
Let's start with why do you think it is not selling?

TerriM

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2015, 01:15:00 PM »
What about Amazon?  Is the stuff already for sale there, and how's your price point in comparison?

kudy

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2015, 01:18:20 PM »
I really like the idea of "failing fast," but I admit that it's hard to put full effort into succeeding/failing quickly when it's a side gig. I am in a similar situation, having started a side business; it's meagerly successful, but probably not enough to justify the time I put towards it. I think if I had an extra 10-20 hours to put towards it every week, I could prove it a success or failure within 6 months. Instead, I am left dinking around on it when I have time, and hoping for success in my limited time.

Specifically about your business: pricing is probably the hardest thing to get right. You've purchased inventory, so you've calculated what you need to make on each item to make it worthwhile - there's probably not a lot of flexibility in how much you charge. Therefore, you have to find the right audience... which is the incredibly difficult part of any business. Today's modern advertising options are pretty good at targeting based on demographics and interest, so if you haven't already tried, maybe try some twitter/facebook/adwords ads that target a very specific audience? Do you have competition that you can analyze and emulate? Can you find a few men's fashion related websites and buy direct advertising?

I work in web marketing, and I've noticed that new websites rarely get any search engine traction in their first year, so if you're able to hold tight until 1+ years online, you may start to see some organic search engine results (assuming you have somewhat unique products and aren't competing with the big guys).

If your current efforts are already bringing in a few interested website users, maybe take another look at the website itself? Does it appear trustworthy? If it wasn't your business, would you buy from yourself? Is there anything you can do to add trust? (secure certificate, add PayPal as a payment option, sell through amazon/ebay as well?). If the user doesn't feel 100% confident ordering, they probably won't.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 01:20:40 PM by kudy »

arebelspy

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2015, 02:30:03 PM »
Anyway, to date, I have not sold one thing.

Are you sure you're selling things that fill a need (or want)?

"Eco friendly men's accessories" doesn't sound like something that would generate a lot of interest aside from catching on as some weird niche thing under a certain brand name, if luck occurs.  Otherwise it sounds like a pretty doomed endeavor from the start.

Ask yourself if people actually want or need what you're selling, or if you're just hoping they do.
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dz1087

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2015, 10:18:40 PM »
Let's start with why do you think it is not selling?

Probably a combination of the website looking amateurish and the price point being high for the products/potential customers.

dz1087

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2015, 10:19:45 PM »
What about Amazon?  Is the stuff already for sale there, and how's your price point in comparison?

I've seen similar on Ebay and my price is beating most offered here in the US.

dz1087

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2015, 10:22:16 PM »
I really like the idea of "failing fast," but I admit that it's hard to put full effort into succeeding/failing quickly when it's a side gig. I am in a similar situation, having started a side business; it's meagerly successful, but probably not enough to justify the time I put towards it. I think if I had an extra 10-20 hours to put towards it every week, I could prove it a success or failure within 6 months. Instead, I am left dinking around on it when I have time, and hoping for success in my limited time.

Specifically about your business: pricing is probably the hardest thing to get right. You've purchased inventory, so you've calculated what you need to make on each item to make it worthwhile - there's probably not a lot of flexibility in how much you charge. Therefore, you have to find the right audience... which is the incredibly difficult part of any business. Today's modern advertising options are pretty good at targeting based on demographics and interest, so if you haven't already tried, maybe try some twitter/facebook/adwords ads that target a very specific audience? Do you have competition that you can analyze and emulate? Can you find a few men's fashion related websites and buy direct advertising?

I work in web marketing, and I've noticed that new websites rarely get any search engine traction in their first year, so if you're able to hold tight until 1+ years online, you may start to see some organic search engine results (assuming you have somewhat unique products and aren't competing with the big guys).

If your current efforts are already bringing in a few interested website users, maybe take another look at the website itself? Does it appear trustworthy? If it wasn't your business, would you buy from yourself? Is there anything you can do to add trust? (secure certificate, add PayPal as a payment option, sell through amazon/ebay as well?). If the user doesn't feel 100% confident ordering, they probably won't.

I've always felt that the website has been an issue.  However, i am very reluctant to spend more on it at this point.  Funny you mention paypal because that is my only POS.  I do that because with all the data breaches out there, i do not want to have that info anywhere on my site's servers. 

dz1087

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2015, 10:25:38 PM »
Anyway, to date, I have not sold one thing.

Are you sure you're selling things that fill a need (or want)?

"Eco friendly men's accessories" doesn't sound like something that would generate a lot of interest aside from catching on as some weird niche thing under a certain brand name, if luck occurs.  Otherwise it sounds like a pretty doomed endeavor from the start.

Ask yourself if people actually want or need what you're selling, or if you're just hoping they do.

I did quite a bit of market research before deciding on the current product lineup.  Non-mustache me about six months ago was all over this stuff.  The niche lies in the sorta hipster, sorta environmentalist realm.  I still think this niche is going to be rapidly expanding over the next several years, but I'm not sure I am going to be part of it anymore...

DCJrMustachian

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2015, 10:58:14 PM »
Might want to think about setting the price low, neutral profit or possibly even taking a loss while you establish your company and reputation and get testimonials/word of mouth business.  Gradually, once you have some volume you can either lower your purchasing costs or raise your prices.  Since it's a side business you really don't have to worry about immediate profitability, so nothing to lose by keeping it going right?

minority_finance_mo

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2015, 12:10:54 AM »
Be aware that you can generally write off losses on this side business at the end of the year, but it typically has to produce some sort of revenues (however meager) or the IRS will likely treat this as a hobby, not a legitimate business.


act01

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2015, 02:33:18 AM »
Do you have a Pinterest account? You could put up pics that link to your site. Have you considered Etsy?

dz1087

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2015, 08:29:12 PM »
Do you have a Pinterest account? You could put up pics that link to your site. Have you considered Etsy?

Yeah, I'm worried about getting spread too thin on the social media, being a one man show and all.

act01

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2015, 01:39:33 AM »
Do you have a Pinterest account? You could put up pics that link to your site. Have you considered Etsy?

Yeah, I'm worried about getting spread too thin on the social media, being a one man show and all.
Wait, by that do you mean you're afraid to get too much business/exposure from it? Or that it's going to be too much effort?

minority_finance_mo

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2015, 01:42:10 AM »
Do you have a Pinterest account? You could put up pics that link to your site. Have you considered Etsy?

Yeah, I'm worried about getting spread too thin on the social media, being a one man show and all.
Wait, by that do you mean you're afraid to get too much business/exposure from it? Or that it's going to be too much effort?

As someone who used to manage social media accounts for a company - yes, WAY too much work to actively manage all these accounts. If social isn't showing an ROI for you, move on. "Free" is not free if it's costing you more time than it brings in revenue.

minority_finance_mo

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2015, 01:45:04 AM »
Not making a sale in a few months doesn't necessarily mean you should scrap the idea, but it does mean something is seriously flawed with what you're doing now. Figure out what that is: is it pricing? Promotion? Does your website plain suck? Is the product something consumers want?

http://netmba.com/marketing/mix/

act01

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2015, 02:13:27 AM »
Do you have a Pinterest account? You could put up pics that link to your site. Have you considered Etsy?

Yeah, I'm worried about getting spread too thin on the social media, being a one man show and all.
Wait, by that do you mean you're afraid to get too much business/exposure from it? Or that it's going to be too much effort?

As someone who used to manage social media accounts for a company - yes, WAY too much work to actively manage all these accounts. If social isn't showing an ROI for you, move on. "Free" is not free if it's costing you more time than it brings in revenue.
I'd still encourage Pinterest, especially for a product. I'm talking about posting a few pics and let everyone else repin it... free marketing, more or less.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2015, 05:39:10 AM »
Can we see the website?

kudy

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2015, 09:17:13 AM »
One suggestion is to run three 5 minute user tests at http://peek.usertesting.com/

This will at least get you the opinions of 3 strangers, as to the usability and messaging on the website.

Le0

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Re: Should I keep the side business?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2015, 10:31:32 AM »
I think your target audience is Women buying for Men.

Setup a landing page on your site.

Go to Fiverr and get a couple video reviews of your product. Put them on the landing page. Get Women to do it.

Then run targeted facebook ads to Women pointing to that landing page.  Offer a deal for the first x number of sales.

Then follow up with people who buy and get some kind of testimony quote maybe a picture if they are ok with it. Then add them to the landing page.

Just My Suggestion. If you need help doing something like this, I can help but I'd have to charge something I have gotten very busy recently. But I am happy to advise away. 

 

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