9 MYTHS YOU HEAR FROM BUSINESS & BOUTIQUE OWNERS
It seems to me that when you go into business, no matter what business that may be, there is always someone out there who feels like they know more than you. It's always nice to have someone as a "mentor" of sorts, but you tend to run into people who want to tell you what they think is the right way vs what just mainly works for them. No one wants to just be up front and tell you the truth about what is working and not working, they'd rather sound more successful than being honest. So, I'm going to tell you the top myths and truths I've found to be accurate in the business of boutique owning.
MYTH 1: You need a professional photographer.
No. You. Do. Not. Yes, it's SO nice to have someone take great images for you with their big expensive camera but it is not a necessity. I repeat, IT IS NOT A NECESSITY. I've been so blessed to have very close photographer friends but I would never ask them to spend their days shelling out time taking the images and editing. Some of the largest boutiques either have the owner photographing their images or one of their employees. When I had my own boutique, I actually took most of my social media and product photos with my IPHONE (yes you read that correctly!) They turned out perfect and professional looking. I've had other business owners constantly asking what my trick was - there is none. My tip: learn your lighting, learn what your customers respond to, and always make sure your images are quality before posting.
MYTH 2: You need a brick & mortar to succeed.
Absolutely not. Some of the best boutiques started online and either later moved to brick & mortar alongside their website or they stayed strictly online. Some of the most successful boutiques are online only. The best part: they don't have the overhead unless they need a warehouse of some sort.
MYTH 3: SEO is a one-step process. Just type in the keywords and boom.
I wish this were the case, but it's not. SEO is an on-going, ever-going, never-ending process of updating descriptions, changing headings, using alt tags, linking, linking back to your site again, and etc. etc. My tip: if you don't understand SEO, pay someone to help you. It's worth the money.
MYTH 4: You have to have a ton of inventory.
This could not be more false. You do not need a ton of inventory; however, if you are going to only offer a limited selection it needs to be enticing, eye-catching, and a must-have!! Steer clear of basic & simple items that can be found elsewhere (i.e.: Forever 21!) Find stuff that is unlike anything they will be finding elsewhere.
MYTH 5: You need a ton of money.
While you do need a pre-determined budget and a decent amount to cover start-up inventory, shipping, and additional expenses (supplies for shipping & marketing materials), you don't need a ton of money. Those who tell you to invest with over $50-100,000 are insane. It can be done, it only depends on what type of store or business you're wanting. I started my freelance business with $0 and I'm making more than I could've imagined I would. Kirstin Blowers of RiffRaff started her business with $100 (!!!!!) and now she is one of the Forbes 30 under 30. I mean, cmon! There could not be a more motivating story than hers.
MYTH 6: Owning a store is super easy!
HAHA! That's what I say to that. Owning any business is never easy. I even struggle with staying organized from time to time and falling behind on certain things that need my attention. I still have many, many nights where I stay up late to finish expiring projects and assist my clients with priority projects. Many business owners try to make their lives look cushy and fun while on the inside they're struggling to stay above water, fighting to get sleep every night. Know that owning your own business can be very exciting and so freeing, yet it keeps you busy and stays your #1 priority.
MYTH 7: You need to have advertisements on other sites.
This is something I constantly struggle with. Unless you can find a website with proven sales through advertising, I wouldn't waste my money. I can not tell you the amount of clients I have that come to me to vent because they're spending crazy amounts of money advertising on sites and seeing no ROI from it. If you are struggling to find the extra money to advertise, it's better to pass on that opportunity. You will see 500% more ROI from your social media outlets than you ever will advertising on a website.
MYTH 8: You can't sell X because someone else sells it.
You have the same opportunity as everyone else. You wake up just like everyone else, you put your clothes on just like everyone else. You are MORE than welcome to do business just as everyone else does; however, you need to be yourself. Do not become a copy cat stalking other business's programs & merchandise. Be original and your customers will stay true to you. If you consistently copy other boutiques, you'll never find your core group of customers. The best thing I ever did was to stop looking at my competitions' social media. Guess what? They then disappear.
MYTH 9: You don't need a professional website.
Unless you can build the site professionally yourself, I highly suggest hiring someone to build one for you. With so many boutiques popping up left and right, you need to do three things: stand out, look professional, and gain your customers' trust. There are a ton of boutiques who are becoming known for scamming and, because of their wrong doings, they are scaring customers to never want to shop online for fear of being scammed. If your website is anything less than professional and genuine, your potential customers are going to be terrified to enter their credit card information. They'll also be scared that your product is less than quality. BAD QUALITY SITE = BAD QUALITY PRODUCT and that's what your customers think. I've organized a ton of focus groups for retail (online vs brick & mortar) and I can tell you from personal experience, customers directly relate the professionalism of your site to the quality of your product. Psst: I also design awesome websites for boutiques & business owners in general! View more, here and view my work, here.
What is a piece of crazy advice you've gotten? I would love to hear! You can also join the discussion in our super secretive & informative Facebook group, here.