“So You Want To Be a Boss?” is all about my experience over the past 8 months since I launched Ofio. If you were wondering how I’ve been faring, I’m here to spill the tea! It’s been tough my friend, it’s been really tough, but don’t let me scare you away, there’s a lot of good too!
I launched on the 1st of November and I was very excited to make the big reveal and get my first sale. On the day itself, I had a countdown to 12 noon when I made the site live and I even did a few snapchat vids documenting my nervousness at the prospect of what I was about to do. The time came, and one minute later, shopofio.com was live. I had finally done it and with no turning back, I went over to my stats dashboard to watch the traffic pour in. An hour later, not wanting to keep an eye on the clock and my backend continuously, I went to the gym. When I got back, there was no sale but I had received an email. A lady had emailed to ask about the making process of one of my products and the ethics in the production line. I was nervous! My first email was such an important customer service question and I had to get it right! I calmed my nerves and replied, hoping she’d believe in my brand as much as I did. There was no sale that day, but the second day, I woke up to a purchase from the same lady and I was so happy that I got up and started dancing- that’s what I do when I’m happy. I spin around and shake what my mama gave me!
It was incredible that someone living far out in a country side that I had never heard about was my first customer. I had thought, how the heck did she find Ofio? I later found out that she was actually residing in Vietnam at the time and had bought the Serena Metal Clutch as a Christmas gift to herself(You can read her glowing review on the page). Wow, I was overwhelmed with joy and was pumped for the journey to come. Days later, a few orders trickled in and every time I got the notification on my mobile phone, I beamed with pride.
Months later I got several orders from Europe and overseas, collaborated with some digital influencers and was feeling good about things. Traffic wasn’t great, but I was making headway I realized when I looked at the statistics on how other small businesses had to wait for months for their first sale. I thanked God because I knew that if it had been me to wait for so long for that first sale, I surely would have cried!
However, I was very surprised by the people I received support from and those I expected but didn’t. When you go into business, you definitely learn a lot about relationships. It’s business, but you quickly learn that it can also feel personal, but you must try to not make it personal. Business is business they say eh? Anyway, what surprised me was that the people I least expected nothing from where the ones who were the ones quick to put money into Ofio(the first friend that bought my products was someone that I had been in university with and we hadn’t particularly kept in touch); and those that I thought would be cheering me with sparkling pompoms, were nowhere to be found. Another person who I had been friends with years prior but hadn’t seen at all since I was 19 said she had to buy one of my chokers because she believed in what I was doing, so where were the other people that I thought would be first in line? I was truly startled and it affected me months later when I got quite overwhelmed by running it all by myself. Business can truly be an emotional game if you do not stay onto of things and check yourself.
I’ve also learned that the phrase “build it and they will come” isn’t true, at least not about running an e-commerce store. I began to wonder, are my products not good enough? Why am I not selling more? But after more research and reading through many forums, I realized that even if you had the best product in the marketplace, without the right marketing strategy, nothing would happen. As you know the internet is a vast place and there are thousands of online stores, hundreds being launched in a day. So in order to be seen in this mine field of other competitors, I had to stand out and reach my target audience. This is what I’m still learning to do appropriately as the days go by. It’s definitely not easy to nab in one go and because I’m bootstrapping, finances are low and budgets tight, so this slows things down as well. Any digital marketer in the house willing to offer free consultation, please holla at me 😉
I’ve also had to deal with loads of emails from all sorts and have learned that people will do anything to get themselves out there, so why not I? I’d get emails from web designers, marketers and companies all wanting to sell me their service or product. This has encouraged me to be more bold and sell myself(in terms of my blogging & personal brand). Why do we wait for things to fall in our laps instead of going out there and working for it? As soon as I’m more settled, I’ll definitely be cold calling more startups to offer my creative services. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I must start somewhere. Also, truly believing in myself is key. I get shy to email brands thinking that my following count isn’t as high as others, but I know the quality of my work and unfortunately in the dense community of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, it’s not the best that always shines through, so we must knock on as many doors until we get what we want and deserve.
I’ve always been prudent with my finances, but running Ofio has made me step back more often and analyze the decisions that I’m making because every pound spent must be accounted for, although room for risks must be allowed in order to truly learn and know what to do for the future of the business. I’ve also had to go through the process of registering my business and handling tax. One thing I’ll advice is to keep your books in check! Don’t wait till the last minutes to start writing down your in comings and expenditures because 3 months down the line, you may forget about that bill you had to pay and believe that when the tax man comes calling, your excuses will be turned on deaf ears.
What I haven’t gotten used to is still when I get asked to be interviewed. I’m always truly honored and glad that people see the work I’m putting out there and appreciate it for what it is. Also because I’ve interviewed lots of people on this blog in my YAMI series and Spotlight, I feel it’s good karma coming back to me although it was never planned that way.
These past 8 months have been wonderful but very tough I must add. Business isn’t plain sailing, don’t let the glossy pictures and Instagram posts deceive you! It’s a lot of hard work and burning of the midnight oil. Also, lots of doubting, crying and hoping to get it right. I’ve been truly blessed to have been able to work with wonderful creatives, mostly friends who have helped with photography, modelled for my campaigns and helped in their own way to repost my pictures and online store. I just came back from a well needed trip and the friend who I went with became my impromptu photographer and by the end of the shoot(including the pics in this post), I knew that I had worn the poor girl out, but she never complained! I’m forever grateful for everyone I’ve come in contact with throughout this journey who genuinely care and are interested in my growth and can’t wait to collaborate and vibe with those I’m yet to meet . However, I’ve noticed some onlookers who never say anything, but I’m sure that they talk about me! lol
A lady told me that after first visiting Ofio , to her, it emanated peace and I am proud to have brought about such a thing. If I inspire you, I hope that I continue to do, and that in so doing, continuously motivate you to also work on your dreams.
Weakest point? The month I didn’t make a single sale!
Happiest point? When a customer all the way from St. Lucia bought my Lupita metal clutch and revealed that it had been an expensive buy for her and that she had used her allowance as she volunteers with the US peace corps, but it had been totally worth it!
People go into business to make money, but believe that I’m yet to pay myself for all of my efforts. I’m simply reinvesting everything that comes in back into the business in order for it to grow and be sustainable. I can’t wait for the day that I can cut myself a big fat check! But for now I’m simply sowing and doing my time, the harvest will surely come!
If I’ve missed anything else that you’d like to know, leave a comment below or email me and I’ll reply. Also, would you like me to do a series on starting a business, etc? Let me know!
As always, be fierce and fearless,
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