Time flies when you're having fun, or so I hear.
I know it has been a while since I've had a post and I'm here to bring you up to speed.
It's been a daunting journey from the start, no doubt, but these last couple of months have been filled with challenges.
Let me set the stage. You've been told you have this race to run. You don't know the rules fully, just a general direction. There's a time limit, but you aren't fully sure what it is. You know there will be obstacles to avoid along the way, but aren't fully sure of where the path is. You're now plopped into the middle of a forest trail and you hear the gong to let you know that "it has begun".
Well, that is kinda what it's like. I've been learning as I go and making mistakes but somehow managing to stumble upon the "path" every now and again.
Since I have gone live with inventory (April 1st), it has been a challenge of determining how to spread the news that No-MaTer exists. The paths seemed pretty cut and dry at first.
1. Get a website so that orders can be made online
2. Get into stores
3. Go to farmer's markets
4. Spread the word on social media and connect with the right groups to continue spreading awareness
I'm quite proud of my website and the sales that have happened! My SEO presence, search-ability, and tags have a lot to be desired. I am constantly emailed by companies pitching to "help" me fix this, but am not sure whom to trust. I connected with a referred company, but found that they had a rating of less than 1 star and many reviews indicating they were a scam. It is difficult to know whom to trust in this regard when SEO and search-ability will take months to even a year before your changes can take full effect.
I was able to get into a store! It is a mercantile shop, so unfortunately I'm not reaching my audience. This is likely to come to an end in a month as it is not worth the rent when a mercantile shop is not a normal place individuals do their grocery shopping. I have quested out to grocery stores to see what it would take for No-MaTer to get on shelves. High level, 1 year of provable sales of at minimum $2k/month. So, I am working with a distribution company to try to get there faster. I am trying to get into Whole Foods first, but it looks like they won't be accepting sauce applications until November. I will be trying to connect on my own and plead for special consideration as this is a very unique (and tasty) product.
Farmers Markets! Ok, so I was already off to kind of a bad start since most required entry forms and fees to be submitted by Feb 15th (and my inventory was delayed until April 1st). But I knew that some still would take late entries. Through some fellow entrepreneur connections, I was able to start a list of farmer's markets that I could try to apply to. I filled out the first form when I found I had to also submit my proof of business liability insurance, fire permit, state sales tax license, city sales tax license, and even a diagram of my booth setup. Well, I already had the state sales tax license...but not the rest. Heck, I didn't even know what size of booth I would be able to secure at the farmer's market. I decided to tackle the business liability insurance first. I technically do not need this since No-MaTer is a Limited Liability Company, but it is required for the farmer's markets that I was trying to get into. I reached out to my personal insurance company as I already have a great relationship with them. And they did work very hard to try to help me, but alas, I was denied. I'm still trying to get the underwriters to fully explain why, but something to do with my company name being on the label. If you are confused by that, welcome to the club. Without a better understanding of the reason for why they were not able to sign me, it is difficult for me to move forward with this. I will be reaching out to other insurance companies, and hope that they will not have an issue. But at this time, farmer's markets are slim to none that I am able to attend. However, I was able to attend a small market at my local grocery store and had some minor success! It is definitely time intensive and I really need to reapply sunscreen next time.
Social media is an outlet that most small business are using to spread the word of their product(s). For those of you who know me personally, you will probably already be chuckling as you know that I am not known for posting on social media in my personal life. This has been a huge adjustment for me, and honestly I'm not doing so great. I'm very much out of my comfort zone even doing these blogs! Haha But I strive to grow and get better. I even bought a selfie ring light tripod stand to aid in my growth in this area. Now I just need to make it happen...and often. Small businesses have the unique challenge of being not only product creators, but also content creators and marketers.
Now, with all of the above fun times, I have been feeling for the past couple months that I'm on the verge of great news. But it keeps getting postponed. Emotional rollercoaster aside, it has been difficult to blog when I don't feel like I have much to share for the time and effort that I have put in these last couple months. So, in the spirit of social media growth, I decided that I needed to just make it happen anyway!
I wish I had more uplifting news. I am still working towards the goal of spreading the news of this (in my humble opinion) wonderful product to my fellow tomato-avoiders! But it is not going to be a fast path to the finish line. It is taking a bit of doing to learn this race and tackle the obstacles and find the path forward to the finish line.
As I continue this journey, since I'm too stubborn to give up quite yet, I cannot say enough how much I appreciate YOU joining in it with me and supporting this adventure even by just reading my blogs. Thank you!
Oh, and tell your friends! :)
All the best,