As you know I LOVE business! I somehow get a “high” from the peaks and the valleys that come along with entrepreneurship. Some call me crazy and others completely “get” me.
For the last couple of years I have been coaching and consulting with business owners on their endeavors. As you likely already know I have been guiding them through building and growing their brand as well as helping them legally protect it. I LOVE what I do! However, in watching and helping others build, it caused me to miss building my own businesses. This year I have decided to launch a few of my own new projects.
I thought via my blog and email newsletter, documenting my progress and the things that I am doing would help others that want to also build strong brands. In addition it would hold me accountable and help me to stay on track. Knowing that thousands of people on my email list are waiting to read about my progress (and possibly implement the same tools/tactics), it will MAKE me work and prevent me from getting off track.
The series will be called “Building the Brand”. Welcome to Entry one of Building the Brand… I hope you enjoy!
I have several brands I am planning to launch this year. However in mapping out my goals and strategies for 2017 I decided that working on one at a time would be the best way to tackle it. I outlined what I want to launch and determined which of my projects would be the most lucrative. WHY? Because the plan is to make money then use that money to fund the next project, then the next…
The goal is to have multiple businesses operating like a well oiled machines that eventually are all making money. MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME!!!
I visited Morocco in November. I was invited there to speak at the United Nations Conference. (Read more about the business lessons I learned in Morocco here) While there I took in some sights and immersed myself in the culture. It was quite the experience. My favorites in Morocco were the hot mint tea that they served and their leather goods. The leather…OMG the leather!! I hadn’t seen so many beautiful and high quality leather items in one place. Initially I just looked around in awe.
Seeing how the leather goods were made was amazing. Witnessing artisans prepare the leather, stitch the leather, dye the leather… I was speechless! If you know me then you know that is me being speechless is a very rare occasion 🙂
I purchased several bags. They not only looked nice but, the quality was way better than designer bags that I own and it was a fraction of the price. Bags that I knew would cost close to 1K in the U.S. weren’t priced close to that.
Of course my wheels started to turn. I knew that if I could get these bags to the U.S. I could sell them for a fraction of what others bags are sold. Once I sent friends and family pics of my new bags and they went NUTS. I knew that I was onto something. I crunched numbers and compared the amount required for investing for all the ideas I had for businesses. This bag venture became my first choice because of the return on investment (ROI). The margins were great!
From experience I know that in order to build anything it takes a team. One big reason why a team was essential for this particular project was because of the language barrier. In Morocco they speak Arabic, French and sometimes a bit of Spanish. There are some that speak English, but it is not their native language.
I have the skill set to build a brand, but I definitely needed someone that spoke both English and Arabic or French to handle the communication with the artisans.
I was sure to put together an English speaking team before I departed Morocco. The first member was the manager at the home where I stayed. He did such a great job taking care of me and showing me around the 7 days I was there. I knew he would be perfect! He gathered more. Before departing I also was sure that we were all using WhatsApp. If you are not familiar, WhatsApp is a texting app that allows communication between people anytime from anywhere. WhatsApp is essential for anyone that needs to communicate with others in a different country at no charge.
When building a new brand it is essential that a target audience is clearly defined. Defining the audience is part of the business foundation. If one does not know to whom they are targeting their product it will become difficult to market effectively. If it is not clear, everything else will be an uphill battle.
I knew my target audience/customer would be someone like me. I defined them as women (or men) 30 yrs plus that work in corporate America or as an entrepreneur. This person likes to travel, likes nice things and appreciates the value of a quality product. I then started to look up other travel and briefcase bag brands. It helped me determine exactly what I wanted my brand to look and feel like. It had to be refined, simple and conservative yet have a bit of a flair.
Deciding on a name took the longest. After days- maybe even weeks- of pondering I finally had a fitting name. The name had to be easy to pronounce and just as easy to spell. I wanted it to be easy to be found on the internet. A difficult spelling or hard to pronounce name would not work! Finally I decided to call the brand Mint Luxury Leather. I wanted there to be a story behind the name. The story was simple- I went to Morocco and fell in love with the leather bags and MINT tea. 🙂 Pretty simple, right? Simple but it took way too long to come up with! lol Follow the brand on Instagram
Although there are other brands to which to compare this still took some work. There were shipping costs to get items to U.S., dust bag costs (every good leather bag needs a dust bag for storage), cost for tags, cost for cards that outlined how to care for the bag, team to inspect items upon receipt, website/ e-commerce expenses and more. Although it is tempting to look at a “competitor’s” price and make yours the same or less, it is not always the best route. Mostly because you do not know that company’s expenses. The may have gotten the merchandise at a lower cost, they may have a less quality product..who knows! I had to get familiar with my numbers and worry only about that.
Many may ask why I had to have tagging or a dust bag or tips on caring for the bag. That answer is simple- it is because I know my target customer. I know these are things my target customer would expect and also appreciate.
Going the extra mile and creating more of an experience as opposed to just a transaction is what will be vital in my new venture. Experiences (if executed properly) create loyal customers. What can you do to create more experiences in your business?
In typing this blog entry I am realizing exactly how much work went into each thing I have done thus far. I actually had more, but shortened it b/c I did not want to bore you lol. In my next entry I will share more info on strategy and what I have and will do to increase interest and revenue generating plans. I will also share the first pitfall I experienced this week. The pitfall almost made me quit! I promise to share the good, the bad and the UGLY!
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