Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Well, I’m an automobile artist, Stylist, and Illustrator. Worked for General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and a host of auto design firms. Naturally, like any artist, I wanted to get my works out to the public. Noticing many artists already in the field exhibiting and selling there work at car shows, I did the same thing. Of course, this was back at a time of no internet just plain old Car shows, and Galleries. Well, when the internet made its debut I followed the trend on the “how to’s” and “will this work” Needless to say I found it was the biggest thing ever to show and sell my work. I haven’t looked back since.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
The products I create and sell is Automotive Art Prints. I’m the guys that create the artwork, categorize the parts numbers, get the images optimized, and load them up on my website and various sales channels such as Esty. I like to be hands-on and in the know about every aspect of my online business. It keeps me sharp to make good business decisions.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
My best selling products are every print I produce but to pin it down the absolute bestseller of all, it’s the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Mustang. What makes the products stand out? There’s an old saying; “A picture’s worth a thousand words” The artwork speaks for itself and If it’s built on 4 wheels there’s a market for it. You just have to tap into it.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The joy of course is, getting paid for your own hard work. This is better than beating yourself to a pulp for other employers. The old way of working hard has made its transition. This is a country that still allows for the common man to make it if you have drive and stamina. The biggest joy is doing what you love for a living. As my work ethics speaks for itself, I consider myself a successful living artist, not a starving artist. The hardest part is staying on top of ever-changing technology. When you have an online business it is a MUST that you stay abreast of things emerging on the internet. I can remember when I scoffed at customers ordering products on a mobile device until I saw the sales figures on a friend’s online business. That was a slap in the face to wake up and stay alert or become a dinosaur in a few years. Staying focus is not a problem for me as it’s a labor of love. You are your own boss, your motivation is accomplishing goals, getting paid for your work, and realizing you made the whole thing happen yourself.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
I sell specifically to auto enthusiasts, collectors, auto museums & stores, and your command every car guy. Like everyone selling on the internet I use Google search terms, Etsy, Amazon, and of course my personal website. To me ist a give and take when it comes to results. You get a little bit here – a little bit there but it’s better than just sitting and waiting for customers to show up. As the statement goes “It takes money to make money” I just wish it took less money to advertise and produce more money in sales. I’m not satisfied with the results.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
My winning formula is simple, Develop your core customer base, and you’ll be successful!
Realizing the internet is a huge web of customers all over the world, if you narrow it down to who likes and who buys, treat them right, don’t scam them, or try to run the game on them, they will stay loyal to you for a lifetime. It’s no different than a car salesman. If a family purchases a car from a local dealership and they are treated like family, chances are the next generation of families will be loyal to them for as long as they’re in business. Develop your customer base, treat them right, keep them happy, and deliver the goods without fail. That is my winning formula!
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
1st. Setting up the business and the right sales channels, 2nd. Understanding the ever-changing technology. 3rd. Learn the protocols for advertising and shipping. If you don’t have will power to learn all this. it’s best to hire experts. I learn the old School way by trial and error and a “no-life” routine of studying all I could to learn how it works. It took me approximately 2 and a half years to totally master it but it was worth it. This is what I meant about being a hands-on guy. I know this line of thinking is “Old School” but its better than “No School” You will pay through the nose on stuff you could otherwise learn yourself.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
As an automotive artist, It doesn’t take much for me to get creative. I love cars so much that I live and breathe them. I actually started drawing them at age five. Events like Auto shows, Hot rod & Custom shows, auto museums, sciences, and technology centers are all the creative boosters I need for inspiration. The rest is a piece of cake.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
Yes, I ship internationally. For that, I have a separate shipping company that handles global shipping. For local USA shipping including Canada, I use Fed and UPS. Together with my print company, we handle all shipping detail in the house. As with art, all my products are packaged in a hard constructed 10 mil tube and ship the same day the order’s placed.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
As I earlier focus on setting up your business with a good web presence, you don’t need to be to fancy, just a clean uncluttered site. If it’s a retail site use a white background and space out the products. Learn various sales outlets and get a clear understanding of your market, don’t try to do too many things at once. Keep up with the ever-changing terms and technology of the internet. Learn the protocols of advertising and shipping.
Together all things points will result in a “well oiled” online business.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Focus on all the points I mention earlier and never give up. If you become frustrated just take a break and come back later after your brain cools. Make sure you read good information concerning startups. Get opinions from seasoned business owners first, don’t fall for every gimmick involving online businesses. Remember nothing is free and I can’t stress this one enough… Learn your market! Trying to sell anything you get your hands to everybody will result in failure. Master and conquer and one trade at a time, when things are running smoothly move on to your next project. Remember an entrepreneur starts off as one person and then braches off employees. The same with your business, one thing at a time.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
For me, its creative expression, freedom of my personal destiny, making customers happy from the products I sell, knowing my art hangs in many walls of an American household, my business – my rules, the love of what I do as talent, and of course Money. This defines business success for me!
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Well from the strict routine I had while working at General Motors as a stylist I took the same approach to my business. Up at 6 am and work till 12pm, take a lunch break, and 2 hours later go to the gym and work out- GM had a gym in the building. About 6 pm put in 2 more hours cleaning up invoices and shipping and the rest of the days is mine
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Plan a higher budget for advertising and to continue producing artwork that customers love. It’s the artwork that spells growth for me. I listen and understand what they want. Also, there’s an old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. If I offer a Ferrari GT308 sports car print but on the same website I’m offering a customized 62 Chevrolet low rider, does this coexists? Sure it does! What may seem like trash to the guy who lives in Dubi UAE is heaven to the guy who lives in Tijuana Mexico.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Learn the hard way?? Never – ever again will I be so quick to set up a sales channel with another website without reading all their fine print. In doing this I inadvertently deleted half of my inventory by mistake on Etsy because it was connected to this website that shall remain anonymous. This will seriously anger you because these types of sites love to promise you the world. In reality rape you of money that you could otherwise use for your main channel. This is what I meant by never doing too many things at once, thank God I could reload that inventory on Etsy.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Nope that about does it for me!