Monthly Archives: June 2012
Let me start by saying I am not an expert financial wizard, nor is my business raking in billions of dollars that I can toss on my bed and swim in. I am, however, co-owner of a women-owned small business that began with very humble start-up money, at the worst time economically to START a business, that has consistently grown each year. So how is it that we have done so well?
1. Initially, focus your products or services.
Too often I have heard of businesses faltering, or worse, going under completely because they stretched themselves too thin trying to cast a wider net. When we began Wellspring Trading, we knew it would focus on massage therapy products because that was our main background. We offered both one-time purchases (reselling massage tables and chairs) as well as consumables (100% natural massage oils). But we started getting feedback from our customers…
2. Listen to your customers.
The feedback and inquiries we got indicated that not only were massage therapists coming to us, but non-therapists who wanted natural products. We found that many customers absolutely loved our golden jojoba oil for a hair shine, and our fractionated coconut oil for very dry skin. Once we realized the potential to introduce people looking for high-quality, all-natural, non-chemical alternatives to use, we expanded our customer base. Additionally, we’ve now expanded the products we sell to meet the needs of customers who had trouble finding those products elsewhere.
3. Excellent customer service is ESSENTIAL.
Set yourself apart from the MegaCorporations with teams of operators who know little about the products or services they offer. From the beginning, we promised ourselves that the highest quality customer service would be one of the most important aspects of our business, and we’ve kept that promise. In speaking with a customer about a massage table, I refuse to sell them the most expensive just for the sake of making the sale. I listen to their wants and needs, and offer the best suggestions I can. My goal is to make the customer completely satisfied with their purchase, which means less hassle for everyone later on. It’s also my personal goal to ship products that come from our warehouse within 24 hours, and our customers go out of their way to let us know how much they appreciate that. Lastly, always try to talk to a customer with a smile on your face – they can hear it through the phone!
4. Know your strengths AND weaknesses.
If you know you won’t be able to handle an aspect of your new business, don’t just try to ignore it – find a partner or hire an individual to handle it for you. I am great with customer service and shipping, but anything to do with finances or micro-details makes my eyes glaze over. My business partner, Marcia, on the other hand, has a background in accounting and is extremely detail-oriented, so we make a perfect team.
5. Look for ways to save money everywhere you can.
Setting up a business presence on sites like Facebook is free and easy for your friends and family to help spread the word. We do our business online only, which saves the overhead costs of leasing a brick-and-mortar storefront. We offer the convenience of a low flat rate shipping, and go with the least expensive shipping methods we can. Before adding a new product in to our line, we research it thoroughly. We also re-visit our suppliers’ prices regularly to make sure we are getting the highest quality products for the money.
Hopefully this give you potential small business owners something to think about as you consider your new venture. The last piece of advice I can give is to truly believe it what you offer – customers will get excited when you speak from genuine knowledge and happiness. It makes all the difference!
I am an enormous fan of Aliens. I was 12 years old when it was released, and it was just about the time I was seriously starting to notice not just boys, but older guys. With muscles. And uniforms. And very large guns. Thus my infatuation with Michael Biehn was born (*tweengirlsigh*).
But aside from that it was also a movie that struck my Girl Power nerve, because Sigourney Weaver is not only incredibly strong-willed, but can kick ass as well if not better than a whole squad of uber-Marines. Throw in an adorable little girl with a neat accent who is also pretty good at taking care of herself, and the movie was awesome as hell.
So I was kind of intrigued when Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was hitting the theaters. The precursor to Alien, it was supposed to give insight into “what happened.”
Starts out with a group of people poking around a remote region on Earth and discovering cave paintings that they say show a map to another system in space where something cool must be waiting for us. Ok groovy.
Then we’re on the Prometheus, and the obligatory robot is hacking around, reading things, watching movies, checking on the stasis pods, blah blah blah when they finally arrive at their destination. Then there’s a scene – very much a throwback to the scene in Aliens where the grunts are all sitting around getting the mission briefing – where Charlize Theron introduces the head of the company as a recording, who pretty much just says “by the time you see this I’ll be dead, so here’s the scientists to explain why you’ve been asleep in space for 2 years.” From that scene alone I already picked up a future twist.
They fly into the new planet’s atmosphere, almost immediately find a funky, non-natural structure, and set down to go check things out.
From here, it gets even more boring and predictable. They find interesting things, a storm rolls in and a couple of stragglers get stuck back at the structure while the rest are back at Prometheus being all excited about their finds. VERY predictable bad things happen to the stragglers, VERY predictable bad things happen to the excited scientists on the ship, VERY predictable twists happen along the way. But I cared very little about anyone who was killed, because very little time was spent developing the characters beyond the surface. The plot dragged on at a rather boring pace, which also lent to me not caring much about the characters. I was less than impressed by the origin of the aliens as well. *Yawn*
The movie is not a complete disaster, however. I thought Noomi Rapace was great – she played a very believable scientist who has a strong sense of religious faith and a survival instinct to rival Weaver’s Ripley. The sweeping landscapes that scream “THIS IS A RIDLEY SCOTT FILM!” do not disappoint, although I would have sacrificed a little of the real-life sets to add a touch more awe-factor that some CGI could have added.
If you’re a fan of the Alien series and want to be a completist about it, check it out on disc, but if you’re looking for something on par with Alien or Aliens (or heck, even Alien: Resurrection), you will walk away rather let down.