What I’ve learned the past 6 years growing a gift box company
It all started with a graduation party for my niece which put me on the roller coaster ride called - entrepreneurship. I had zero idea what I was doing but like Marie Forleo says “Everything is Figureoutable.” After reading her book I realized I lived that mantra. I may not know how to do something but if I wanted it I would figure out how to do it. I definitely acquired some bumps and bruises along the way but I’ve managed to grow this company into a profitable business.
It hasn’t been easy (did I say that already?) especially when you’re self-funded but this journey has been worth it. The self-discovery has been the most interesting, to say the least. I’ve learned more about myself than at any other time in my life. After being in business for 6 years I thought it would be fun to reflect on what I’ve learned.
Start before you’re ready.
Anyone else a perfectionist? I can’t tell you how many times I designed and redesigned boxes before launching so that they’d be perfect. One year in and the initial boxes we launched were obsolete. I am not saying to just throw something out there that you haven’t put some good thought into but you have to learn the balance of overthinking and analyzing. Put it out there and you will get feedback from your customers that will help you improve your product.
Patience is Key
TBH, I am still working on this one and it’s been the hardest lesson to learn. In today’s world, we want instant gratification and with all the podcasts and viral success stories of other entrepreneurs, we tend to feel like a failure if we don’t see results immediately. For most, it takes years - that includes Amazon. They didn’t see a profit for the first 10 years of business. Have patience, stay consistent, and identify what you can do to get your name out there. Many times this can be offering services for free or setting up a table at an event. One of our biggest clients we snagged from having a pop up table at West Elm in Seattle. In 4 hours we had little traction until literally the last 10 minutes when this one person walked in and loved our product. This resulted in over $30,000 in sales. It only takes on person to get the train moving down the track.
Get your marketing in check!
Even with a marketing degree I still struggled with this. When you wear all of the hats it can easily fall off the list but trust me it’s the most important. Get your strategy in check while you have the spare time.
- My recommendation would be to set up a content calendar! I use ClickUp so I can see all of our blog post, emails, social media posts all in one place for the month.
- Start building your email list. You can do this through ads, giveaways, and events. Social media is not the best strategy for keeping in contact with your customers. Instagram or Facebook can change their algorithm at any moment. You need to have emails and send them out as often as you feel you’re capable of doing consistently.
- Blogging - the best way to get Google to find you is to be consistently putting content out there for your ideal customer to find you. Use Ubbergest or Google Keyword Planner to find keywords people are actually using to search for your product then put those keywords in your blog posts.
Listen + Adapt
We didn’t start off with the boxes you see today. Our boxes originally had everything you would need to create an instagrammable party at home. We listened to our customers and evolved with what they wanted. This was critical during COVID. We were one of the only businesses putting virtual party boxes together that were not only gifts but had a party flare to make those virtual events a bit more personal and fun. Everyone was trying to figure out how to still host events and make them special. We filled that void.
In a perfect world, you would have no customer issues, and while you want to minimize issues they’re going to happen - especially when you’re shipping products across the country. (hello UPS 😉) The first few times sting but here was my approach:
- What can we do to make it right for the customer?
- What can we do internally so that this will never happen again?
- Move on.
I could go on and on about all the things I learned. This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you've been thinking about starting something - do it! What's the worst that can happen? The ride is worth it. If you’re a new business just starting out I hope this helps and I am cheering you on.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last 6 years. I am truly grateful!
P.S. To celebrate with you all gift boxes and shop the market items are 15% off for the entire month of September.