Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
I was a police officer for 23 years in Columbus Ohio. I started my business because I enjoy being creative and bring unique items to market. Our niche is our laser cut road maps and custom drinkware.
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
We sell custom engraved drinkware, coasters, beer cap maps, roadmaps, custom licensed Ohio State products. We currently have 5 lasers, and a 5’x10’ CNC for our bottle openers and barrel heads.
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge is keeping up with demand. We have had a huge increase in sales due to the pandemic and more people shopping from home. Though sales have increased we have to juggle the increase of sales and adding new employees to keep up with demand. We recently added another full-time employee and one part-time employee to keep up.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I have always owned different companies throughout my life. I enjoy watching them grow and become successful. Being successful comes with the challenge of day to day operations and making sure things are running smooth. Most small business owners want to keep control of all aspects. Unfortunately, as you grow you need to hire help for payroll, office duties, etc. if you want to grow.
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
My biggest mistake as a beginner was advertising in print. We found that we didn’t get enough sales to cover the marketing of print ads. We went to strictly social media marketing and have grown our business tenfold. Some advice to anyone starting their own business is to be patient!! Most new business owners have a great idea and a good strategy. They spend a ton of money on equipment turn on the lights and expect to be a success overnight. It’s taken us 9 years to get where we are. Take your time!! Think big grow small.
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
We like to look at trends and add our unique twist to bring great products to our customers. We do a lot of research and development releasing products on our Facebook page to see what the interest looks like before releasing them to market.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Since I was 21 I had the drive to run my own businesses. I have owned a home theater design and install company, I’ve also invented and patented a product called WalkieClip. I would say I’ve made my mistakes over the years making me a better entrepreneur.
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
Our most effective way to advertise is by running ads on Facebook and Instagram. We also pay for advertising on Etsy which has grown our store by 800% We also give away our products for likes and shares on our social media platforms.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
The key to operating a successful online business is your photos. You need great photos if you want to sell online. I like to think about what I like when I look at something I want to buy. The photo usually sells your product. You have to spend money to make money. I’m not saying spend your life savings but make a budget and spend it wisely on advertising and good equipment.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I like to define my business’s success through our feedback from our customers. When you get great reviews nothing is more satisfying. I also look at it like this if you can pay your employees, bills, and make a good living you’re doing ok.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Our day to day starts with filling all online orders. Once online is complete we work on our walk-in traffic orders. By mid-day, we respond to emails and phone calls writing quotes for the remainder of the day.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Our 2021 plan is to add two products a day to bring our product line up to 200 products. We also want to make our presence larger on Amazon. We currently do well on Amazon but have room to expand.