You Win Some You Lose Some
Apparently you guys love hearing about business related stuff so after the success of last weeks post all about Working In or On Your Business, I’m back again with another business balance post. Taking the step to branch out on your own is both exciting and daunting, you’ve got so much to look forward to and of course, so much to do! The highs and lows will throw you off balance more times than you care to count but the rewards are well worth it.
Let me tell you a story of a little company I like to call Quirk Design. Last year we thought we’d start getting our own products out into the market instead of just doing work for everyone else; We took the plunge and went to our very first creative market (Kensington Market). We put together a great looking stall, had all our products ready to go, big smiles on our faces and by the end of the day we had made a big fat $0. Yep, that’s right we made no money at all. Admittedly we did get some custom work as well as a few extra branding clients, but for prints sold that day we made ziltch!
I’m a glass half full person so instead of closing up shop, and never doing another market, I saw it as an excellent day. I might sound a little crazy but hear me out. Anyone who starts their own business is going to realise, usually very quickly that there are some major ups and some major downs, but those of us who can get through the downs with smiles and perseverance, are in for a much more rewarding time. Yes I know I sound super-peachy-keen and you might just want to slap the happy out of me!
This post came about because after Sunday’s market, I was questioned by some other stall holders and ones who had previously attended the market; and although I was lucky enough to have had a good day, some others barely made anything. Now this does happen; as I mentioned our first was a bust, but what I was surprised about was how quickly these businesses were ready to give up. Maybe it’s just me but I found this really odd. I know it can be incredibly demoralising, especially for those that have travelled so far, but as a small business, this is when we thrive. When there’s something not going to plan we can choose to be miserable or after a day or two (I’m usually a little kranky the first day), take stock of what’s happened and work out where the improvements can be made and carry on.
Unsurprising to all of you, I’m back with another list for getting yourself out of the business market blues.
First place to start is to look at the day itself. Where there a lot of people compared to normal, how was the weather, was the demographic right for your product? They might seem like simple questions but they an make a huge difference to your day. Sunday morning was wet and dreary, so it’s not surprising that it was a slow start to the day. There were also a couple other nearby markets on the same day which also doesn’t help since most people, when the weather is bad will choose to go to one only. This is not something that you can control, and it’s a risk you take doing a market.
Did you fill in your market review form honestly? You’d be amazed at how many people don’t and then like to complain about what a terrible day they had. The market itself has a big role to play in the success of your day, and whilst you can’t preplan what it will be like, you can take the time to accurately and honestly provide feedback to the market organisers so they can take on board your questions, complaints and ideas. Ask yourself, did you have enough space, did the layout have a good flow, did you feel like you were stuck in a dead zone? By answering all these questions, and probably a tonne more, not only will you help your own stall but you will certainly start feeling better about the day and realise that there are many factors involved and you don’t suck!
Your stall can make a huge difference to your market day. Our very first stall, although we thought it looked great, it was clear after the first hour that people just didn’t understand it, didn’t know what we were selling and were either walking straight past or too scared to find out what we were selling. While our idea of making it look like a little design consultancy was great, it wasn’t very clear to customers. We made a big improvement on our second stall and it sure paid off. People could easily see what we were selling, how much they were and would buy them.
Taking stock of your own stall is something you should be doing after each and every market. Pay attention to the way customers are walking past, stopping, what they’re looking at and the most common questions they’re asking you. Once you work out the way your customers are shopping, you can set up a clearly defined and designed stall.
Remember this! You are you’re biggest selling point! If you don’t like what you’re selling, if you look bored and uninterested, guess what? You’re customers won’t be interested either. I have actually seen stallholders fall asleep at their stalls and then wonder why they didn’t make any sales. Eye contact, smiles, friendly, positive attitude, all these things can make a massive difference on the day. Let’s face it if you have a choice to buy from someone who is friendly or someone who doesn’t care, who would you rather buy from?
Keep in mind though, that while you should make eye contact and talk to potential customers, don’t hassle them. Most market goers, like to browse, take their time, not be interrupted and if they are interested you’ll soon know. They hover a little longer, search through your racks in detail and will likely talk to you first. I’m not saying you should be a mute, but maybe back off from launching into a full sales spiel, instead say “hello, how are you? We have a special offer today for …” It lets people know you’re there to help without being overbearing.
At the end of the day, going to market or not is your choice and you will know what’s best for you and your business. But before you give up completely, take a minute to review your day and see where improvements can be made.
We’d love to hear about your market experiences, did you fall down and get back up? Lets us know in the comments section below.