The entrepreneurial journey can often be marked by uncertainty and filled with loss. Gaining traction, developing a clientele, establishing revenue and forging strategic partnerships can be a bit overwhelming. However, there are certain insights, moments and snippets of advice that can lead to perspective shifts. Whether you’re a woman of color or a recent college graduate, may these tips help you navigate the revenue rollercoaster.
Here’s how I increased my revenue by $30,000 in just one year:
I started recognizing my worth
Low self-esteem is a heavy, merciless beast, and it’ll devour you unless you outmaneuver it. When I first started my business in late 2017, I didn’t actually think it would work.
I remember asking my husband, “Babe, do you think I can book at least five clients this year?”
Fast forward six months later, and I’d made $10,000. The good news: there was revenue. The bad news: that revenue hadn’t actually translated into a salary. The issue wasn’t clientele, but pricing.
The U.S. wedding industry was estimated to be worth $53.4 billion as of 2013, so why was my company barely breaking even? I couldn’t figure it out. Then I registered for a calligrapher’s business webinar. In that webinar, I found out that I was cheating myself out of thousands of dollars by only charging for product and not actually charging for my time as a designer. I was undervaluing myself, and it was costing me. So as soon as 2018 hit, I was determined to turn over a new leaf. I began adding a “design + assembly fee” to each invoice, and the financial impact was incredible.
I stopped using social media as my main source for leads
Let’s face it, selling large quantities of product, consistently, on Instagram can be incredibly difficult if you don’t have at least 30,000 to 100,000 faithful followers. Of course, there are Cinderella stories, like Supa Cent, a beauty brand that sold $1 million in one day by utilizing social media, but for the average entrepreneur, we have to think outside the box when it comes to engaging with our target market.
Unfortunately, Facebook Advertising is no longer considered innovative. So, it was important that I got back to the basics. I stopped scrolling and started looking for ways to meet my audience face to face. More specifically, I searched for local brands that I could partner with, to my advantage.
My intention was to leverage the quality of my product and customer experience to gain access to a large, established clientele. After many failed attempts, hundreds of cold emails and countless hours brainstorming, I was able to secure very strong partnerships with two local wedding venues. Thinking strategically about the deal and agreement terms was important but executing those terms would be more challenging. However, after working out the kinks, this proved to be beneficial for both parties, and that’s the true mark of a successful partnership.
I got serious about networking
I’ve found that networking works best when you are committed to building authentic relationships and real personal connections. The fun part is, those connections don’t always have to be forged in-person.
When I first entered the stationery world, I had no idea where to turn for help, but after a little bit of Googling and Facebook browsing, I stumbled across an incredible calligrapher’s group called, “Becoming A Wedding Stationery Boss.”
In this digital networking group, I found a wealth of resources and industry knowledge, which would have otherwise taken me years to acquire. From webinars to invoice examples, the group was an endless stream of wisdom. The most rewarding aspect though was establishing a long-term relationship with my print supplier! After working with their team, I was able to have a few of my designs printed and assembled, which I later displayed at my first bridal expo. Those designs had my table buzzing, and I landed six of my very first clients from that event.
Starting a business is incredibly challenging, and growing a business is even more cumbersome, but by recognizing your worth, and actively pursuing business relationships, you will inevitably reach new financial milestones.