Living the Entrepreneurial Life: Part Five

So the last thing that I was asked to talk about is how do you start selling products. This one is a pretty loaded question, simply because you have something that is awesome. You have identified your target market, you know who you're meant to help, who you're meant to serve, what you're meant to do, and the question is, how in the world do you get started? Social media is the quickest way. However, one thing that you have to understand is that every social media platform is not gonna serve you, your mission, and your message as well as you think. You have to ask yourself, what is the best platform for me to use? If you are offering a service, depending on what that service is, Facebook, maybe your thing, Linkedin might be better. If it's product based, Facebook is good, but Instagram is probably going to work better just simply because the audiences are different, so things to remember when selling your products is this: one, identify the outlet that's gonna work best for you. Second thing, concentrate on building your offline audience and clientele as well.

If you make jewelry, one, you should be saving to get into arts and crafts fairs. FInd somebody who owns a small independent boutique and ask them if you can set up a display in their store! Set up at bridal expos that come to town. See what you can afford to do, get over the nauseated feeling of when somebody tells you to go live, to share your products, to share what it is. Let's say you cook or you bake.

When it comes around to certain times of the year, people need to know who you are, what you have and what they can do to get it. Case in point, young lady lost her job and I asked her, "Do you have a skill that you can market online and make money from immediately?" And she said, well, I like to bake. I like to bake sweets. I said sweetheart. It's almost Valentine's Day weekend. Take pictures of what you do. Come up with a price list. Come up with pickup, delivery, shipping-- all of that, post it all and see what happens. And she said, okay, I'm going to do that. I made some stuff today and I have pictures in my phone. She posted those pictures along with all of her prices and and products and everything, policies, procedures, all of that. She made $300 in one weekend. Now you may say that that don't sound like much, but to somebody who's lost their job, that's whole lot of money. So that is leveraging social media, talking about things to do offline, vendor events, networking, pop up shops--see who you can connect with.

Build a street team! Ask those friends, families, loved ones, church members and even the enemies to wear your stuff, to order from you and post testimonials, to read your stuff and give reviews (if you're an author), to use your stuff-- get people who will support you and can support you both online and offline. My reading team is five ladies in four different states.

When I have something coming out, I let them know, I send them a copy and next thing I know, their own social media talking about "Lookie what I got. This was my favorite quote. This was my favorite thing about it." My sister has a mobile bakery. She's been making all of my cakes for me for the last umpteen years. I can't say how many she'll kill me, but every time she does a cake for me, I'm taking a picture of the cake. I'm taking a picture of us eating it-- everything -- and it goes back to Anything Sweet Bakery. Now a word of caution, as I said, with marketing, when it comes to selling your product, understand that you cannot go and set up shop everywhere. Every opportunity is not one that you should seize. If they don't appeal to your target market, if it's in a place where you're going to feel uncomfortable, if they can't answer basic questions about the venue, about the event, what's going to happen, all of that good stuff-- run. Because what you don't want to do is to have the brand that you're building in excellence tainted by foolishness.

So you have to watch who you, if I may, cast your pearls before. Now, one thing that I get asked as an author, as somebody who has a physical product that they create, how can I dodge processing fees. My thing to them is this -- any platform that you use to sellyour products is going to have some type of processing fee. So if you have a physical product, the only way you're going to avoid those processing fees is if you sell it yourself and only take cash. That's it. Even if you take a check, there are fees associated with that. If you're gonna take checks, be ready to drive hither and yon to get them cashed. Sometimes when it comes to having a product based or even a service based business, there are gonna be those unavoidable costs. Transaction fees are unavoidable costs. So there, you have to find your happy medium.

I know that in my first days of vending and selling products, people used to laugh at me all the time. They stopped laughing at me after like my third event, but they would laugh at me because I carry two cell phones. I have my Square reader in one phone, I have my PayPal reader in my other phone. I carry $40 in dollar bills to make change. And I'm not embarrassed to say this, but at one point, I had a literal check runner. If you saw something that you were interested in, I eliminated every excuse that you simply because I was just that deliberate in my preparation. I wanted to remove every block that you had financially as long as you weren't trying to haggle on my price. I wanted to give you what you needed by any means necessary. So one thing that you have to understand when it comes to selling your products...

Charge what it's worth, and I say that with every bit of love in my heart. It's okay to break even selling stuff, but it shouldn't be a lifestyle. And you may say, well, if I do that, they're not going to buy it. Okay! As the favorite Disney song says, Let it go! At the end of the day, if you allow people to haggle with you, you're the one that's going to end up frustrated in the end because that's what you will start to attract. People who want a hook up-- because, as we all are, when we get a deal on something, we go and tell everybody that we got the deal. Then others are going to think that they can go to that person and get that same deal— and then we get in our feelings because, when they charge us full price, we’ll say, “Well, you didn't charge so and so full price.” That ain't what it's about! So, charge what you're worth and stick to it because you're always going to have somebody somewhere somehow at sometime that is going to try to do something to knock you off track. You can't let them do it. Why? There's a difference between and genuinely not being able to afford something and not wanting to pay for it. Let me say that again for the people in the back-- there is a difference between genuinely not being able to afford something and simply not wanting to pay for it.

There is a difference. How many times have you gone into a store and you looked at something that you say, yeah, I need but whew I don't want to pay that. Do you need it? Do you need it? So as I close, I want you to understand this. Your mission, you and your message matters. At the end of the day, you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and smile and say that I stuck to my guns. I might've lost money, but you know what? I stood by me, my mission, my message, and my values. That's my story.

Tammie Polk

Tammie Terrell Mompreneur Coachin, 5405 Fox Plaza Drive, Memphis, TN, 38115