How to Start a Business at Any Age

by francine Hardaway on February 25, 2016

This post is the continuation of last week’s post, in which I decided if I was going to continue to coach entrepreneurs I would have to quit riding on the stories of my past businesses, the latest of which was started 18 years ago, the coaching business Stealthmode Partners, and start a business that embodies both classic and modern tools.

I decided to sell a physical product, which I had never done, and to learn the ins and outs of inventory, online sales, social sales, and Facebook marketing. Anyone with experience could have done this better than I, but I wanted to simulate the issues of the people I am coaching. I also decided to be very transparent, and to share my journey here and on Facebook.

Lesson One: you need some activation energy. Lesson Two: You need to give up your fear of failure. Lesson Three: You need to have a big dream. Mine is to spend the next five years making myself financially secure, after spending the last fifty years trying to do that for others. I also want to help others, which is the reason I’m sharing, and to help SySTEM Schools, the STEM School for high needs kids on whose board I proudly serve.

So here’s where it all started.

2/22 What do you know about social selling? Learn from me.…/inspiration-from-friends-starting-anot…

2/23 24 hours of selling on with only one sale means we have to tweak the product, right? Well, we can’t tweak the image right now within the platform guidelines, but we can offer different products, so here is the women’s v neck tee. I’ve taken advice from an anonymous source to add a women’s product, and from Ted Cook to change my messaging. The good thing about ViralStyle? No inventory. This is big.

So far no advertising, just social media. Ad campaign will startup soon:-)

2/23 Learning as I go, Probably should watch the videos on the ViralStyle site, right?I’ve had 722 visitors in 48 hours, and 50 clicks from my Facebook ads, and I’ve sold two shirts. They’re not exactly flying off the shelves. But I’m going to change the design soon. If you want one of the “classic” Version 1.0 designs, buy now:-)…

I am awash in learning. I’m so fortunate to be able to do this, and to pass it on. Last night one of the members of the Mesa Entrepreneurship Roundtable created a Rugby t-shirt during the program, and told me I had solved a big problem for him! This meets one of my goals.

Also through posting on Facebook I’ve been introduced to the founder of ViralStyle. I know that somehow this is going to work out well for me…it has already.

2/24 Day 2.5 of my new business, inspiration from Friends.
We now have 3 sales.
I’ve received much feedback, and I am floating on a sea of gratitude for all of it. I’ve deployed much of it.
I added a new shirt style for women, and some new colors for both men and women.
I’ve found out I can’t shift to a new design without starting another campaign, so I’ll wait until this one ends on the 29th.
I decided to give 10% of my profits to SySTEM Schools, the charter school for high needs kids that I’m on the board of.
I have pretty much broken even on my Facebook advertising, if you don’t consider the 10% I’m giving away.

If you’re an early adopter, you will definitely want V1.3, today’s version, of these shirts:-)

2/25 This morning while I walked my dogs, a friend of mine asked for a long sleeve t-shirt. So I added one. With three sales and over 1000 visits, I’m at a conversion rate others would be satisfied with (according to what experienced sellers tell me). However, that’s not my metric. Being old school, my metric is profits. So far I have spent $20 boosting a post, and $35 on Facebook ads. So I am running in the red. My profit as of now is $34.17, but if I don’t sell 50 shirts by Monday, the cost of the shirts begins to eat into my profit.

Dear Reader, this is how ordinary people start a business. It’s microentrepreneurship. Very little barrier to entry, and thus very competitive. But if I can just find that elusive product/market fit…(that’s what they all say.)

It is also how, if they don’t watch carefully, they can go out of business. I am testing a Minimum Viable Product: one message, one design. I’m now up to four different shirts. I have great analytics. and when this campaign ends on Feb. 29, I will put up a new design, same message. The week after, I will put up a different message. And the week after that, still a different message.

If I don’t break even by then, I will come to a conclusion about the t-shirt business and shut it down.

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up Eight

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