Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My name is Kate and I started Kustom Products Inc over 7 years ago as I saw there was a lack of depth in the customized gift market.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
As an online business owner, your responsibilities are EVERYTHING until you make some money where you can start offloading some of your tasks. Make SOPs on everything you do more than once, that way you have the ability to pass the task along to an employee/VA when the time comes.
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?
Our best-selling products really change per season, we source all of our products from suppliers and we create the designs and do all of the engravings in house.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
What I love most about being an entrepreneur is creating items/bring items into the marketplace that do not currently exist. The hardest part is being able to quickly pivot and curve with the economy and the current time of year, staying motivated and on track when shit hits the fan.
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?
We sell to customers as well as B2B, we use everything from PPC to Facebook Ads, SEO, and any other tool we can utilize.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
You will always face challenges, be ready to adapt and you will get past it. Take calculated risks and you will be ahead of the curve.
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?
You need to be in the market you create. If you sell surfboards and you are not a surfer that is not going to work well. Look at what other people/companies are doing to inspire you but also go out and talk to the customers. Just because a large company is doing something it doesn’t mean that is what the customer wants.
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?
We ship all over the world, in almost all cases our postage is passed onto the customer. For the times we do free shipping we raise our prices to cover the cost difference.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Does this depend on what kind of business you are in, com? SAAS? Get your foundation down and then build on it. Get your own website and direct your traffic there, not to an Etsy/eBay/Amazon store. Build an email list and start advertising.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Be ready and able to start working 80 hours a week at first, learn every skill you can when it comes to your business so you can have intelligent conversations when you outsource/hire to see if the company/person is a good fit for you. Don’t try and create everything at once. Start with one thing, such as your email list and get that set and then move onto the next project.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I define business success as creating a company that is sellable. If you cannot sell it and hand over everything for the new person to do without any issues then you do not have a viable business. Start your SOPS in the beginning.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Plan to grow vertical instead of horizontal. Find the 20% of products that are bringing in 80% of your money and add to those, do not try to add new products that are untested.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Note that Etsy has two customers, the sellers, and the buyers. The buyers in the Etsy shop will never be “your” customers they are Etsy. The same for Amazon. Etsy is a great platform to be on however you need to diversify and get your own website as well. Etsy at any time can change their policies, their cost, advertising, etc and if that is the only place you are selling you need to comply with it or you can get kicked off the platform. Do not have all of your eggs in one basket.