How Small Steps Can Turn into Big Things for your Business
This is my first post as a contributor here on The Southern C, after being a long time Summit attendee, follower and supporter of this great community. I knew instantly what I’d share in my first post because it’s one thing people always ask me about in regards to my own business, heirloomed.
We’ve been fortunate to have had a few “lucky breaks” in our 10 years of business, including features by Oprah, Martha Stewart and a 5-seasons worth of product appearances on Food Network, to name a few. While I now know the “luck” was really hard work and a right place/right time series of events, these big things started as small steps that I could easily have missed or passed on if I wasn’t so deeply involved in my business.
I landed a multi-page story about our business in the pages of O, The Oprah Magazine thanks to a young writer who was just starting out and looking for her first big break. She reached out to me on Twitter (I’m dating myself here …) and told me that she enjoyed my blog, and that she wanted to pitch the story of my business. I gave her a “sure, why not, let me know if you need anything from my end and thanks so much” kind of response thinking she was going to run the story on her own blog or perhaps that we’d get picked up by a local publication somewhere. With no more communications 6-months later she emailed back to tell me an editor at Oprah Magazine was interested in running the story. It was clearly a big win/win for us both. Had I not spent hours a day blogging and tweeted, perhaps she would never have found me and shared our story. These small steps turned into a big game-changer for our business.
A few years later, I was up late one night working on my computer with the TV on. Especially at night I like the background noise of something on TV that I don’t have to pay attention to and for me that usually includes Food Network or the History Channel. I looked up for a minute just long enough to see a trailer for a new show that was starting called Southern at Heart, staring the most recent Food Network Star winner, Damaris Phillips. All of a sudden up pops a clip of her sporting our Linen Halter Apron, I’d know that neckline anywhere. I hit rewind on the TV just to be sure. Without a second thought I took to Twitter (again …) and tagged her in a simple tweet along the lines of “just spotted Damaris wearing our apron,” just happy to share the news with our Followers. When I woke up in the morning, Damaris had tweeted back that she loved her apron and had bought it at a local store in Kentucky that carries our line. So again, my “luck” popped up after having done tradeshow after tradeshow for years and years in an effort to grow our wholesale business, when all of a sudden a celebrity chef snagged one of our aprons off the shelf of a great little home decor store.
A few DMs and emails later, I sent out a package filled to the brim of aprons for her to wear as she was just getting ready to film more episodes. Damaris ended up wearing a variety of our aprons on nearly every episode of her show for the next 5 seasons. A reader wrote into Food Network Magazine and asked her where she got her cute aprons, to which she responded with amazing praise for our company and a website URL, and countless times the same on social media. There’s not a week goes by that we don’t get a handful of orders thanks to customers who have found us thanks to Damaris. And still today, we are working on a super exciting collaboration that will launch this holiday that I can’t wait to share. We connected ALL because a store in Kentucky decided to carry our line in their store and I happened to spot her wearing it on TV late one night. I’m so thankful for her support. Once again, small steps turning into big things.
I share these long-winded stories as just two of countless examples I have of seemingly small steps that have turned into big things for my business. Here are a few tips for taking advantage of the small steps for your business :
- There’s No Such Thing as “Small” Press – don’t discount anyone who wants to share your story. If you’re struggling to land major press, try seeking out smaller bloggers + influencers with a great niche, or local + regional publications. Sometimes these contacts are eager for fresh content, and more accessible to reach out to. Often times you’ll find after a few “smaller” features that a bigger editor will have found you, a few new stores want to carry your line, or another business owner wants to collaborate with you thanks to one of these features.
- Be a Big Time Expert in your Industry – if you have a clothing or accessories line, be sure you’re following and engaging with every fashion + style influencer around, staying on top of the latest Fashion Week trends, reading the pages of Vogue and popping in to retail stores to keep up-to-date and fresh. Constantly knowing what’s going on out there in “your world” helps you to take an expert approach to your business and industry, and gives you the opportunity to lead first. This is an easy one that so many folks take for granted but one of the biggest ways you can go big with your business.
- Set Your Goals, Big + Small – Setting small, attainable goals can actually help you reach your big goals faster. To grow by 60 new customers a month seems lofty, but to add 2 new customers a day seems more attainable and tactical. I like to review my small goals daily and my bigger goals on a monthly or quarterly basis.
- Constantly Stir the Pot – I use the term “luck” a lot but any good entrepreneur knows to interpret this as “hard work.” Constantly stirring the pot by putting feelers out into the world ensures your chances for success are infinitely greater. Schedule in time each day to make one or two new sales calls or pitches to editors. By the end of the week you’ll have reached out to 10 new people, 2 of which may respond and 1 of which might take you up on your offer. Sounds like a good week to me.
- Celebrate the Small Wins – Each time you make a sale, launch a new product or even make it through another day in business it’s one small step to growing your business. Sometimes as entrepreneurs we lose sight of the seemingly small wins, but day after day, customer after customer and sale after sale you continue to grow and this is a BIG thing.
I’d love to hear some of your wins – big or small!
Ashley Schoenith, founder + designer at heirloomed