The Business of Business
In the never ending quest to make KD better, I've been researching a ton of different things. Things like how to drive traffic to a website, blogging and social media strategies, how to make products more appealing online, benefits/risks of wholesale, etc. etc. To that end, I've been pretty shocked to discover that a lot of the 'advice' out there feels so skeevy and flat out wrong.
Do I want more website traffic and sales? Heck yes. Do I want to do that by spamming my mailing list with tons of fluff emails and junk "sales" with confusing converting strategies? NO. Would I love to sell my line to boutiques and get more people all over the world wearing KD? You bet! Do I think that carpet bombing small stores with emails, flyers and a "don't take no for an answer, EVER" attitude is the way to build the kind of relationships I'm looking for? Hardly.
I have to be honest, it can be a bit discouraging to see all this so-called advice out there presented in so many different ways to small businesses (generally with a link to an online 'hack your business class' for a low, low price of 3 payments of just $297 run by some self-proclaimed marketing guru I've never heard of, but I digress). I want KD to be successful because the clothing is well made, thoughtfully designed and timeless. I get that in business you have to play the game to some degree, and thus marketing, advertising and promotion are necessary for a thriving business. But I also think the methods used to do that stuff are totally under my control. In a world where brands are increasingly featured on best buy lists or awarded top prizes because they were the best at paying for advertising for that spot, it's really easy to get down about it all.
After all the time and research, I'm finding that the best advice is also the simplest. While that advice might not prove to be the most clickable of headlines, it is the most actionable (and bonus points for no creep factor!):
1) Have a good product.
If your product is something you can be proud of and stand behind, people will notice. Having a good product also helps with #2.
2) Charge what you're worth.
This one is really hard for me. I struggle with this one daily. It's a struggle in our world of increasingly cheap goods and a competitive market. But by making sure my clothes are priced in a way that reflects how they're made, I ensure that I get to keep having a good product (see #1).
3) Not everyone is your customer.
This is another tough one. Today's business advice seems like it is all about getting everyone to be your customer all the time. And yes, a goal of any successful business is to have an increasing number of great customers, but in reality my product just isn't going to be something that everyone wants/needs/or even likes. Putting aside arguments about things like manufactured exclusivity and luxury pricing, it is valuable to understand and embrace that not everyone is going to like what I make for an infinite number of reasons. So by trying to make KD appeal to the largest audience possible and compromising on the core of what I think makes a great product, everyone loses. Instead, I can focus on making a great product and building the business in a way that feels right and actually find customers who share those values.
All of these things take time. And hard work. And a lot of perseverance. Old school business advice sometimes tells us that just having a good product is enough. It's really important, but it's not everything. Having an amazing product that no one knows about isn't very useful. Today's business advice tells us to ramp up, buy followers and purchase tons of ads and sponsored content. The real way is somewhere in the middle. It takes time to build a successful business, get to know your customers, and to thoughtfully make all the thousands of tiny tweaks along the way as you learn. There just aren't any 'hacks' for that.
With all that being said, I think it's worth it to keep on learning, and as always, just keep creating.
What's the best business advice you've ever been given? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!