How to Grow Your Brand, Even Through a Pandemic

How to Grow Your Brand, Even Through a Pandemic

Let’s face it: 2020 has been a hard year. For many of us, it’s been filled with loss, uncertainty, stress, fear, and anxiety. It’s a time when a lot of people have lost jobs, lost profits, lost motivation, or lost the ability to work entirely.

AND it’s also been a year of resilience. Of listening. Of learning. Of compassion. OF GROWTH.

And while it may seem like personal growth is the only way to evolve this year, it’s not. In fact, there are a million ways to grow professionally at the moment and move the needle within your brand. It simply takes creativity, awareness, and resilience. Let us explain…

Focus on giving back to the community

Since the start of the BossBabe empire, we’ve recognized the importance of community and giving back. This is exactly why we believe in sharing our best strategies and tips through free resources like webinars, pdfs, ebooks, quizzes, and more! Sure, we could be charging for every resource we provide, but that wouldn’t be supportive… and we truly want our community to thrive during these times, without having to spend a dime.

So whilst it might feel contradictory to provide free resources, it’s not. In fact, above building a beautiful web of support, an active community can directly impact your revenue growth in the long-term. Don’t believe us? Listen to this.

Make it a goal to create ONE free resource for your community during this time. And ONE separate way to connect with more of your community (responding to DMs, building a private Facebook Group, hosting a virtual event, and so on).

Take care of your community and they will become raving fans!

Invest your time in growth

If your business has been hit financially, it’s OK to invest less money in resources. We get it and we definitely don’t suggest spending anything if you’re uncomfortable or feel maxed out. What we do suggest is investing your time.

Whilst you may have paid someone to learn about a specific hack or growth strategy in the past, it’s now your turn to step up and do the learning yourself. A great place to start? Natalie’s YouTube channel, which hosts TONS of free videos on monetization, Instagram growth, business strategies, and more. There are tons of learning to be done over there, so if you’re looking for some mentorship – that’s gonna be your new favorite corner of the internet.

Connect with others

Networking sounds very outdated, but we like to think of it more as connecting with likeminded people. Whilst we might not have the chance to meet up face-to-face with people or to attend industry events, there’s an entire world of people behind screens seeking connection. These people are looking for business partners, accountability buddies, and biz besties – so put yourself out there and connect.

Instead of grabbing coffee with someone in person, do it over zoom. Send a DM to someone you may not typically get to connect with; they likely have a bit more time on their hands now. Join (or start!) a Facebook group and spend time engaging. Become a member of The Société – the place where female entrepreneurs connect, build, and grow.

Cater your marketing to reality

Depending on your business, you’ll likely want to tweak your marketing focus and language right now. What do people really need from your brand? If you could only sell or market one thing, one thing that’s needed in our world right now, what would that be? Would honing in on that one thing make more sense right now? Would it cut down costs on your end, while increasing revenue in other areas of your business?

Ask yourself those questions and then take action to make changes. Be flexible and keep your marketing real and relevant. It’ll always pay off!

Create internal guides

A downturn in business or the economy is a great time to level up internally. Instead of laying around feeling sorry for yourself, take full advantage of this time. Consider creating internal guides that can either teach future members of your team how to do things within the business (so that you don’t have to later). We have our BossBabe Playbook that is the place of truth in our business. It’s packed with every process, system, tactic, and more. We document everything, so we can rinse and repeat every process seamlessly and with grace.

To hear more about what to include on your own Playbook and learn exactly how to implement this in your business, have a listen to this episode of the BossBabe Podcast.

One other smart idea is to create a loom video for every single task within the business – big or small. Once you have these templates and guides, you’ll be able to hand off even the smallest of tasks. And as you hand off the little things, you have more time for the BIG things – like bringing on more clients, creating a new service, increasing revenue, filling your launch calendar, and more. Once you’re out of the weeds of your business, the SKY IS THE LIMIT!

What’s one area of growth you can focus on this week? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

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The Journey of a Million-Dollar Customized Jewelry Brand — Podcasts

The Journey of a Million-Dollar Customized Jewelry Brand — Podcasts

Jacob Pazos, Hanna Zameni, and Scott Shin are the trio behind Revival Jewelry, makers of pendants that project images once a light shines through its gemstones. On this episode of Shopify Masters, we chat with Jacob Pazos and Scott Shin on their product development process, tips for crowdsourcing feedback, and ways to reach their target audience.

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to Shopify Masters.

Show Notes

Creating your niche: applying a modern twist to a traditional product 

Felix: Tell us about your product and why you wanted to create a modern alternative to the traditional locket.

Scott: There’s a real lack of modern lockets, and that’s how we market our product as a modern locket. A lot of times, you’ll find lockets are old fashioned and dated. Really, this thought came about when I wanted to have a personalized piece of jewelry for my mom when my father passed away, and this was maybe three or four years ago. She’s more of a hip mom, I’ll put it. She’s not going to wear an old fashioned locket, and so I had the idea of making a locket that she would wear. This came about when my sister came to me with an invention she had for a small gem, and it almost looked like a stone you would find in any jewelry. We got together and said, “Hey, why don’t we make some jewelry out of this?” She thought let’s try making some rings, but in my mind, I just wanted to make the one pendant for my mom.

Felix: So your sister came to you with an invention. This is something that she invented, or did she find this invention? What’s the story behind that?

Scott: She and my uncle came up with the idea. I wouldn’t say they came up with the prototype, they came with a lens prototype. But when she got together with me, we figured out maybe we can turn this into jewelry piece sets that someone would wear. Around that time is when I talked to Jacob. We were friends and I knew he grew up as a jewelry designer, and so it was perfect to have him involved. He can tell you about what his first thoughts were and how we ended up getting together.

A model shins a light through a pendent from Revival Jewelry that projects a hidden image.
Revival Jewelry is bringing a modern twist to the classic locket necklace idea. Revival Jewelry 

Jacob: I thought it was a great idea as Scott said. I come from a jewelry background, grew up around it, and started doing jewelry design at 13. I was very familiar with an array of different things of what people like, what they don’t like, and lockets were always that thing where I knew sentimentality was a huge indicator as to what people connect within their jewelry. Lockets have that sentimentality but are very low in terms of style, and they’re very antiquated, so it was always an older audience. When Scott showed me the concept, I immediately was intrigued because I thought, “Wow, this is not compromising style at all. If anything, we can now put this into any context.” My jewelry design light bulb just went off. Rings, charms, pendants, whatever you can imagine, it can go into and have the same level of sentimentality that people want to have in their jewelry and that connection with it, bring even a newer level of personalization that people can have in connection to their jewelry but also not compromise the style at all. So, I was in love with it immediately.

Felix: Can you describe a bit about what you’re bringing to the market, as in, what is the modern alternative? 

Scott: I would survey friends, my mom, and sister, about what kind of jewelry they liked to wear. They often shop at places like Pandora, so they’re all about what’s currently trending in jewelry. Those are the pieces that I thought maybe we can make and put a special image inside of it. That was before we thought we could take this to market and sell it and mass produce it. But we just wanted to see, hey, can we come up with a piece, a prototype that my mom or my sister would like? I threw some ideas at Jacob, and I don’t think they were very good. Really Jacob is the designer here. He threw a few sketches back at me and not only did we survey our family, but we took it to friends as well. When we hit that right, got the right response from friends saying, “Oh, I would wear that,” I think that’s when we decided all right, this is what we need to start making.

Felix: When designing the product, what did you start with and what kind of changes did you make along the way that made it to the final product?

Scott: We started with a piece called the Halo. That was the very first piece we came up with before we decided to start marketing it. The name behind it shares the sentiment of an angel overlooking a loved one, right? We have a halo with stones around it that encompasses a picture, and once we were able to put it together and get comfortable with the nuances of how to make it seamlessly because I knew nothing about making jewelry or producing jewelry. Jacob was the expert on that, so I did a lot of learning from him. 

Jacob: We started with the Halo. It was a very simple design. We were just throwing it out there to gauge reactions, so there was nothing really special to it. It was just this design that we thought was simple, likeable. It started, the concept was really taking off. at the time the design, people were like, “Okay, I could kind of take it or leave it, but I love the concept behind it,” so that’s when we regathered and said, “Okay, let’s actually now step out a little further and try to come up with some better designs.” What we did was we thought through the process of how can we create something that’s hitting different price points for our customers, because I come from a fine jewelry background, so it’s very different from what we’re doing here in terms of price per unit. I thought let’s create something that people can buy at $75-$80, all the way up to $200-$250. We ended up coming up with four designs. One very simple, just octagon without stones so that it was very light, not a lot of metal, didn’t cost a lot, so we could offer that to people at a lower price. The Halo was the next product, and I redesigned it and made it look a little sleeker, nicer. We added a little more weight to it. Women were saying it felt very dainty, the first model. We would have things also where we would just take this to women and show them and just get their feedback and say, “Hey, here it is,” and literally had parties at one time to just show them the product and get their feedback.

Scott: That’s where we thought we could turn this into a business. Because the reaction we were getting from people, immediately they were like, “Man, can you make one for me?I love this.” And these are people who wouldn’t normally wear a locket or anything like that, but some of them would look at the jewelry and say, “I love this piece,” not even knowing that it has an image in it and say, “I want it.” 

Identifying the marketing strategy to suit your business

Felix: How long did it take to get to the point where you both were like, “Wow, this is actually a product that we should start to try to sell online.”

Scott: We were both working at our jobs. I have a background in the semiconductor industry and I was working full-time before I decided to move into this. We were sitting there and saying, “Look, we have a product here, but there are a lot of different ways we could go about marketing this, right?” 

Jacob: If we’re putting it on a timeline, that started 2017. I remember you, Scott, came and initially had the idea with his sister. And so Scott had handed me some designs, early 2017, started making them for him. I was at one point like, “Hey, I’m not a fan of these designs really, but I think we can do better.” We kind of collaborated, that’s where we did the Halo. And then we showed friends and family those designs that weren’t that great. 

Scott: We finally decided that we were going to go direct-to-consumer as the route to spread the message and really market these things. We tossed around the idea of the jewelry party, and also selling wholesale to jewellers. But the issue is the party would have been great because it’s a product that you have to demonstrate for people to get, so it’s not just going to sell itself. But direct-to-consumer online provides you with a website that educates the customer, right? We have that opportunity to do that, and I thought that would be a great way to launch this, even though I’m not sure if Jacob at the time was too keen on it or maybe a few others thought you can’t really sell this online. But I thought, look, it’s the perfect platform because your website can have all the information showing them what it does. Not to digress too much, but that’s our strategy to marketing this is that 100% of our sales is online, and we use Facebook mostly to generate traffic- and Facebook paid ads. For us, I was trying to educate myself on how to do this because I wasn’t well-versed in Facebook marketing and all that. As I was learning about how to market this on Facebook, you’d go online, do your research and people would talk about building your funnel strategy, right? But to me, we take more of a send traffic to our website strategy, and really we’re sending them through the funnel on our website itself. Our conversion happens faster than the average product. Of course, it just varies on what you’re trying to sell online, so if you’re selling services that have a longer sales cycle or big-ticket items, obviously you’d probably want to have a multi-tier approach first on Facebook itself or through sending different touchpoints online. But for us, once we get people to our website, it’s pretty simple and pretty straightforward on how to order, what it does, and so we thought that was the best approach for taking this to market was direct-to-consumer online.

Felix: How did you identify that price point, $70 – $200, as the target market for your product? 

Jacob: The background I come from, it was a lot of custom design, it was higher-priced items, so I knew that those would be few and far between. It would have taken a lot more to gather sales if we were talking about a product that’s real gold and sell it for $7,500 a unit. It’s a lot of having to educate a customer and having to bring them along that funnel just of education alone. To me, it didn’t seem like that was the way to go at all, and Scott knew that as well. We talked about this as a more mass-market type of item. It’s things that when we got the responses, sentimentality played into that a lot of the different reasons people would put these photos in, from in memoriam photos to their pets. We realized this is more mass-market than higher-end stuff, so let’s create designs and be cognizant of that when we’re designing things so we can produce things that are that lower price point so that we can spread it farther for people and make it more available.

Felix: Are you guys also in the gifting market? Are there a lot of buyers that are buying it as gifts?

Scott: Yes. I see a huge percentage of our customers dropshipping it to their friends, as gifts for family members, for special occasions like birthdays, graduations. But that’s about half of our sales are in that and half our customers buy it for themselves.

Felix: How does that affect the way that you market the product either in your ads or when people land on your site? Do you try to encourage people to buy as a gift?

Scott: One of our main ads, it does show that it’s the perfect gift item. So we do have some of that messaging. This is a great gift, but we only recently started making card inserts for our customers because they’ve been requesting that a lot. Usually, we’re talking to our customers after they purchase the product. We’re always learning from our customers, in fact, that’s been from the very beginning. We crowdsource our designs. If you look at our website now, I think we have eight signature designs, and we’re continuing to build more designs based on what customers want. We’re constantly getting feedback from our customers on how to approach the whole gifting side of things as well because I think we along the way provided gift boxes that are nicer. All of our jewelry comes in nicer Revival Jewelry boxes now. Because they were always asking for jewelry boxes. Now, I was surprised to learn that it’s not a common practice for a lot of jewelers when you order jewelry online to send you a jewelry box with your item. When you order stuff, a lot of times it just comes plain packaged. We were very surprised. So, we decided to provide nice packaging when we send you an item as well.

Felix: Your business is customized jewelry. Can you explain the technology and the process that goes on when someone goes to your site and they upload a photo? What happens at that point?

Scott: You go to our site. All the instructions are right there on our page, so it’s pretty simple. Once you find a jewelry piece that you like, you click through to that piece, and then there’s a button that asks you to upload a photo. This is an important piece of how we market this. A good portion of our sales are mobile because people keep all their photos now on their phones, right? If you’re going to our website from your mobile device, it’s really simple to upload a photo that you have already there. We have a little tool that we use, it’s a Shopify partner app that helped us build that solution. You upload your image, then there are tools for cropping, rotating, and adjusting the image the way you want it. It’ll come to you how you crop it, so it’s pretty straightforward.

A model holds a necklace from Revival Jewelry while wearing a off-white top.
Deciding to sell direct to consumer was a pivotal moment for the Revival Jewelry Team to scale their business. Revival Jewelry 

Felix: So you worked with a Shopify partner to create the technology for this?

Scott: Well, no. It’s an app we use. That’s the beauty of Shopify is that anything you need, there’s an out of the box solution these days. We were wary about building a website because we thought, “Look, everything has to be custom-built, all the stuff we want.” But as it turns out, Shopify has a lot of out of the box solutions for whatever you could think of, and so we use a lot of that.

Felix: What was the app that you use for this?

Scott: The one we use is Product Personalizer, but there are a few others. But this one works well for us because we didn’t have a whole lot of SKUs to start.

Felix: How is the actual Jewelry made? 

Jacob: There are two parts to our production – processing and production fulfillment. The processing, we keep as a trade secret because we do have a utility patent pending on the lens itself. Getting the photo in, we have our own in-house lab where we do that. But as far as putting the pieces together, we have a 3D printer here. We print molds on all of our prototypes and then of course we send it out, we have some relationships with people who cast the jewelry. We use mostly silver, 925 sterling silver, but we also use gold. We stuck with silver and rose gold because silver is the one timeless metal that people use for jewelry, and rose gold is a current trend but that’s always been in and out as far as jewelry trends go. Now if we do get requests for custom pieces to cast in different metals, we’ll do that for people, but we do everything in-house. It’s difficult to use third-party logistics for us because it’s a customized, personalized piece, and so we fulfill everything here.

How to use crowdsourcing to optimize your product

Felix: You mentioned a lot of the products on your site are crowdsourced, how do you crowdsource the jewelry?

Jacob: Mostly through social media. We have a social media person, she will put out polls. Any time we have a new design, in fact, we’re working right now on some charm bracelets and charms that she’ll be putting out on our Instagram page and will send polls out. Also our email list is about 8,000, and these are people who are very actively involved and we’ll go to them to ask what they like. We’ll have maybe three variations of a design and then ask them, “All right, do you like design one, two, or three?” That sort of thing.

Felix: Are they physical products, or just mockups at the crowdsourcing stage? 

Jacob: Since I do CAD design with jewelry, it’s pretty easy. We’ll think up an initial concept and our team will sit internally and say, “Hey, what do we want to do?” So far, it’s been pendants only, and so for the pendants, it was “let’s create these.”We knew we wanted different price points, so I drew up some things and then we crafted it internally and then said, “Okay, this is good enough to send out. Let’s post it up.” I got renderings where it looks pretty realistic, the metals look real, the diamonds or CZs look real. It’s all computer imaging, but we just throw it up there on social media and would have the votes and everything like that and people would comment, “Oh, I like this,” or, “I don’t like this about this piece.” One simple thing was from the Halo that we first had to the Halo we have now, it’s very similar, but the common response was something as simple as the stone should be a little bigger. Making them 25% bigger changed the whole look and design of the piece, and it became a much better seller than it was before when it was just slightly smaller. Paying attention to details like that with customers is important. In our Facebook ads, we get comments of, “Oh, I would love to see blah blah blah.” And we get this amazing feedback from customers via email, Facebook, whatever, who say, “Hey, do you think you’ll ever come out with fill in the blank?” We definitely take notes of that. When we see something commonly popping up, charms for instance was one of them, that’s when we go back to our internal team and say, “Hey, what do we think about releasing charms?” That’s where we were at, and so I’m in the process right now of creating charm bracelets and charms for our customers, and that’s going to be going out soon for their review.

Felix: How often do you test these designs out?

Jacob: At first, it was not very often. Maybe once a quarter we would revisit our designs. That was because we were just getting focused on launching and getting the product to a point where we felt comfortable with it. We made little pivots where we had only silver and then okay, now let’s make all the pieces in silver and in rose gold, and then made little additions like that. Now we’re looking to release things that customers really want and men’s jewelry is things we hear a lot and charms are things we hear, so we’re trying to take that a bit more frequently where we revisit what customers want. We’re not trying to kill ourselves with the amount of SKUs we’re wanting to release, obviously. We’re trying to go about it as a systematic approach, but listening to our customers very carefully and trying to make sure we’re pumping out things that they really like and enjoy.

Scott: Our signature line is just going to be there, we imagine for a long time, but we’re always trying to add on to the signature designs by following different trends that are seasonal. We have about 19 SKUs, if you include chains. 

Felix: You mentioned that one improvement that you’ve made from listening to your customers was around the packaging and the jewelry boxes. Tell us about how this happened. 

Scott: We were hearing that a lot of people were gifting this., In fact, some people were asking us if they could pay for a box. So we realized we could raise the price, and we actually did. Our initial pieces, we made the mistake of designing them as necklaces that you couldn’t move the chains from. That’s one of the immediate feedback we got from our customers is that “Hey, we want pendants with removable chains.” When we made that change, we realized hey, it’s costing us more to do that but we can also pass that cost on because it’s reasonable. People will pay for that. As we did that, we also factored in the cost of having nice boxes. It wasn’t like we suddenly doubled the price. We thought we were going to get some backlash or people telling us, “Why did you raise the price?” We didn’t, people accepted it, and that’s great.

Felix: Did designing the jewelry box go through multiple iterations as well? 

Scott: We previewed the different boxes that were available and we designed one and stuck with it. We’ve gotten good feedback on it, so we haven’t really found the need to change the design., But of course, it’s possible we could come up with a different box for different occasions and events. That might be an idea, but right now we just have one standard box that ships with our pendants. Now, we do have l these paper maché type boxes that we send when you buy one of our non-pendant items. We have what we call our Pillar and we have a little piece that looks like a camera. We don’t ship those in jewelry boxes, they don’t come with chains. But sometimes we’ll put them in a box for the customer if they do order a chain with it, but it’s all mentioned on our website so they know what they’re getting.

Identifying your target audience and using Facebook ads to drive them to your website 

Felix: You mentioned you had to learn paid ads from scratch. Can you discuss how you learned and your Facebook ads strategy to generate traffic? 

Scott: I definitely encourage people just starting out to tackle it on their own and learn as much as possible. Early on I tried a couple people who were with agencies and said, “Hey look, we can help you guys out.” But I learned that they weren’t producing any better results than we were. A lot of the conventional wisdom out there is this funnel strategy approach, but for us, we know who our customers are. Just start with targeting who your customers are and build your audiences around those interests. We did that for the entire first year, and once we had around 750 to 1,000 customers, we started using custom lookalike audiences on Facebook. If people aren’t familiar with that Facebook works better when you have more data, so the more data you feed it, the better it works. But around the time when we had 750 to 1,000 customers is when that started taking off. If you’re starting a business, you should know who your customers are, right? Once we figured that out, we could target different interests. One of our biggest groups is pet owners. They buy our products a lot, so we would try to find pet lover audiences.

Felix: How do specific target audiences change your ad copy and the way you create your ads?

Scott: We could probably be doing better, but as far as the return on ad spend we’re getting, we haven’t seen the need to create too many ads. We have two ads, tell you the truth, and there’s one that’s been running for a whole year and a half now. Ever since we started marketing in March of last year on Facebook. That’s been running ever since and it’s been working well. Around the holiday season, the fourth quarter, we were seeing 11 to 22x. Right now, we’re closer to 5x, without having to change anything. We only have two basic video ads out there.

Felix: You mentioned that your main goal with these ads is to get them to your website. Are you driving them to your product page ? 

Scott: In the first year, we did spend a lot of money on buying cold traffic and targeting the top of the funnel. But once we started getting conversions, we switched to having purchase conversions, and ever since we’ve just been doing that and it’s been working pretty well and it’s still pretty popular.

Felix: So once you have enough customers, you’re able to switch over to a lookalike audience and set the conversion event to purchase? 

Scott: Yeah. And honestly, it worked so much better than we expected. We entered into some problems in Q4 when we hit Black Friday and we were so overwhelmed, we hired seasonal help. We were trying to scale production as fast as we could. We actually had to throttle the Facebook ads at that time because we were biting off more than we could chew. So, it was a learning experience.

A model in a green sweater is holding a Revival Jewelry locket while shining a light from her mobile phone to project an image from the gem of the pendant.
For Revival Jewelry is all about learning as they go when it comes to paid digital ads. 

Felix: How quickly does the conversion happen once they see your ad, click on the ad to go to your product page? 

Scott: Lately, it’s been shorter in the past as I review the analytics on Facebook, I’d say about a third of our conversions were within a one week period, and then a third were within the 28 days. Here’s the problem is that resets once you go beyond the 28 days because Facebook only tracks for that long, right? We suspect that it mostly takes up to a week. Right now, as soon as we run a new ad, we start to see conversions immediately because I think these are probably warmer leads. 

Felix: Yeah. What do you do to help that conversion? If they land on your site and it usually takes a week to buy. 

Scott: Honestly we let the Facebook algorithm figure that out for us. In some ways, I’m puzzled as to how someone comes to our website, and on the same day, we’re getting a lot more customers that will convert within the 24 hour period I’ve noticed. These are people who Facebook has already found and they were ready. We’ve had customers say, “You know, I don’t know how Facebook figured it out, but they showed me your ad and they realized this is something I wanted and I didn’t even know you existed.” It’s kind of funny how that works because in most cases, it does take a few days for people to think of what photo they want to upload, but we have a lot of customers that already had their picture ready and they just didn’t know we existed.

Felix: Have you made any changes to the product page or the website to improve conversions?

Scott: Yes. Initially, in our first month, we struggled a bit to get orders, and we learned that it’s because we had to educate the customer on how to order as well as exactly how the product worked. We put that all on our website and we do use a tool. It’s an app called It’s been helpful for us in terms of tracking the pathway the customer goes to once they come to our website. The main page pretty much has everything you need to make a decision right there. It tells you who we are, what we do, and then how to order. If you spend maybe 10 minutes on the front page, that’s enough time for you to make a decision, because this is really an impulse buy a lot of times. But in many cases, it’s because life events occur and they’re always happening, right? Someone’s always having a baby or there’s always someone graduating. Unfortunately, we also cater to people who have lost loved ones, right? They want a meaningful piece to buy for themselves or to comfort a loved one. I don’t think we ever dry up the list of potential customers.

Educate and impress your customer: the key to conversions

Felix: What are some tactics you use to impress your customers and gain their retention ? 

Scott: We always say we want to constantly impress the customer, delight the customer. Any time they contact us, if there’s a problem they have with our product, we try to get to the core of what the problem is rather than simply issuing a refund right away. But we have a very flex refund policy, and surprisingly, we have a low rate of return on our product. We have less than 5% rate of return, which is uncommon in e-commerce. Once people have the product, it’s just so personal. They also love our product. But we try to delight the customer by going above and beyond, so any time someone contacts us, they request almost anything within reason, we do for them. We constantly get customers asking us to overnight them a product, and we’ll do that whenever we can even though it may cost us 20 bucks to do. Or we’ll add an extra little gift for people because they want to add something more. –

Jacob: Just last week we had two separate customers who asked us to write notes for people, and so we went out and got some cards. One was a birthday and we asked them, “What would you like us to say?” And they typed up a whole message. We wrote one for a graduation. “We’re not going to be able to be there because obviously the COVID stuff going on right now,” but just things like that. We really try to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and go, “Hey, these are people. They’re more than just customers, and so how can we treat them like that?” We try to go above and beyond as much as possible.

Scott: We also always like to ask customers to share their stories behind their photos as well, because these are meaningful things to them. Just to have a listening ear, because one of our goals with Revival is to create a community for people as well so that they’ll have a place where they can share their stories. We’re really wanting to focus on that these days, so we’re building a social media strategy for that. In the first year, we let social media fall to the wayside because we were just so busy managing the business. Thank God we found someone to do our social media right before all the shelter in place orders went through here in California. Right now, we’d love to hire people but it’s hard to go out there. We do want to grow, social media is so important to us. We’re trying to do that but part of that is building more of a community presence where people can share their stories of the pictures they have in their pieces. That’s one way we delight the customer and also build customer retention. Then we have customers that have bought every single piece. In fact, some customers have bought three or four and they’ll put the same picture and give it to all their grandkids or buy it for their aunt. So, it’s interesting that someone would buy the same piece four or five times, and buy every single piece we have. 

Felix: Speaking of COVID-19, the pandemic, the lockdown, how has your business been affected and what are some ways that you’ve been able to navigate these times?

Scott: Well, it’s stretched our lead times, but we’re fortunate because we’re not using third-party logistics, which I think most 3PL warehouses are up and running anyway, but for us, we have our own warehouse. We’re spread thin these days because of that, but orders haven’t been affected. We thought initially should we scale back our Facebook ads because we did see a drop for a couple of days, this was mid-March, when we first were starting to hear the news. But within a few days, we started seeing orders continue to come in, and we had to think of ways to continue operating. Luckily, you can keep your warehouse operations going, and that’s all we really have. We’re able to social distance because we only have three people – we use a lot of contractors for different things, but we only have three full-timers right now. 

Felix: The first full year, you did $265,000 in sales, let’s talk about that. Where were these first customers coming from for you to be able to crack a six-figure mark? 

Scott: We thought we would first go to friends and family to sell this product, but all of our initial sales came from Facebook. In the first month, we only did $1,000. In fact, the first half, we didn’t do a whole lot. We did 60% of our sales in Q4. I think you’ll usually see that with new businesses. The beginning is slow to grow and it kind of snowballs. In fact, we’re still seeing that right now. Except for March, we continue to see month over month growth. But it was all Facebook. We do get a certain percentage of organic and non-paid shares and Google searches and whatnot, but a vast majority comes from Facebook for us.

Felix: Is there a lot of education around your product? How do you make sure that you’re able to educate your customers that this is a modern take on the traditional locket? 

Scott: Our initial ad shows exactly how it works. There’s a video, we used a model. It’s a friend of ours, she shows you exactly how it works. The first time you come in touch with our brand, you see what it is. Now, once you get to our website and you know that you can upload your picture and order the piece, even when you receive it, once you open the box, we have a card insert with instructions on exactly how to view your picture. In fact, our customers helped us learn that we can do a lot of different things with our piece, and later on, we started educating them more on how to do that, like we’ll tell people, “Hey, you can actually view your photo using your cell phone.” Jacob was the one who discovered that, but we also had customers that quickly discovered that. You can also project your images using a cell phone, flashlight apps. That’s something initially we didn’t even think of, so our customers have been discovering those things. But in any case, we are constantly educating the customer from our first ad they see to when you get on our website to even when you receive the product, we have another card insert with instructions on it. I don’t think there’s ever any step of the way you’re not going to know how to use it. Now, we do still get people who open the box, throw the card away, and they’re like, “All right, I’m having trouble seeing the image,” because some people look at it backward initially because they look at the front gem and don’t realize oh, you can actually look straight into the gem. Because it looks like an actual gem that would go on jewelry.But in fact, that’s the lens piece that you look in to find the picture.

A model in a white outfit is displaying a Revival Jewelry necklace.
Moving into the next stage of scaling, Revival Jewerly’s team is also scaling their ad spend while meeting seasonal demands. Revival Jewelry 

Felix: So, what has changed from your strategy, or what are you guys doing to go from low six figures to cracking a million?

Scott: Now the interesting thing is when you scale your Facebook ads, we’ve learned that when you scale from spending $100 a day to $1,000 a day, you’re supposed to see a diminishing return. But even up to $1,000 in some cases, we’ve seen return on ad spend accelerate. We haven’t reached the mark where it started decelerating yet. We know January and February tend to be slower, except we did have Valentine’s and so we had a little spike there. But we wanted to focus on scaling our production and expanding our operations. We started doing that, we were buying more equipment and things of that nature, but we put that on hold right now because of the whole COVID restrictions. But we plan to move out of our space that we currently have this summer, as long as everything goes as scheduled so that we can bring more people in. Because right now, we’re confident that we figured out how to scale our Facebook and as well as expanding other marketing – honestly the best return we’ve found so far has been on Facebook, but as long as we have everything scaled on the production side of things, we should be able to hit that number. Last year most of our sales were in Q4, 60%. A good portion of that was simply Black Friday through the end of the year. So, we want to be ready for Q4 this year by being able to have enough people and equipment ready to scale production.

Felix: What kind of apps, tools, or services do you use to run the business? 

Scott: Early on we used, and we still do, for reviews because that really helped us with conversions initially to build social proof that way on our website. We also use Product Personalizer. Those are our favorite ones. A tool called as well because we needed a solution for social proof that people bought our product, so you’ll see a little pop-up. Initially, we weren’t sure we wanted to do that because we thought it would annoy people, but it actually helps convert, so we continue to use that. Other than that, those are the ones we rely on. We do use Omnisend to communicate with our email list, and we need to definitely be more active with that because every time we do send out emails that have the highest conversion rate, even better than Facebook actually.

Felix: What do you think is important for you to focus on over this coming year to make another leap in growth?

Scott: We want to expand our marketing presence too. We’ve been testing the waters with some trade shows and building a presence and doing more PR sort of activities. We’ve never really tried influencer marketing, but we want to do that. But the most important thing for me is building the whole community aspect of our business so that we continue to build on our customer loyalty. We have big plans for that, for sure.

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Entrepreneurs Don’t Have the Luxury of Avoiding Comparison — Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs Don’t Have the Luxury of Avoiding Comparison — Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are supposed to be beacons of independence and representative of the willingness to go your own way. Yet everywhere you look, business owners are being asked to size themselves up against a never-ending list of figureheads for success. Why, in a calling so closely tied with self-reliance, do we find such an obsession with mimicking someone else’s life?

Due to the media’s doubling-down on this shallow entrepreneurial infotainment, there’s an anti-trend forming around avoiding comparison, full stop. Feel-good affirmations in the form of tweets and quote graphics are now equally forceful in insisting you should never compare your output with anyone else’s.

Here’s you feigning surprise that, in reality, both extremes have it wrong: 😱. While comparison admittedly comes with its fair share of emotional risks, the truth is it’s an unavoidable part of building a business. In fact, comparison can even be a useful way to grow.

Comparison as a thief of joy

Theodore Roosevelt’s belief that comparison is the thief of joy isn’t one I’d argue against. I’d only add an addendum: the wrong type of comparison is the real source of the problem.

Unhealthy comparisons act like a balance scale, where an ambitious person weighs their accomplishments against peers or personal heroes. This exercise will always leave you feeling like the perpetual silver medalist. There’s a countless list of candidates to be overshadowed by, and it’s easy to forget what you see in public is a hand-curated highlight reel of positivity. Everyone deals with mistakes, stress, and failure—they just do it backstage.

When you always feel like you’re coming up short, you’re sure to bankrupt your enthusiasm and motivation. But it gets worse: comparison can also be a thief of success. When you become “too inspired,” you move from forward-thinking ideas to a reactive to-do list: “We need to act on this—the biggest player in our space already has!” Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom their headquarters, a meeting is taking place on how said thing was actually a complete waste of time.

Despite myriad reasons to stay far away from comparison, I’m still not willing to abandon the practice completely. Comparing and contrasting the various traits of what currently exists in the world can be a wholesome way to learn with the right mindset.

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Comparison as a source of learning

Many entrepreneurs start new ventures with a competitive edge already in mind, and all entrepreneurs would do well to develop a moat that differentiates their business from everyone else’s. But if you plan to capitalize on what’s missing in the world, it pays to ask: How can you notice the gaps if you haven’t filled in the areas around them?

Knowing what’s currently out there is the best way to develop a keen eye for quality. From this growing library of experience, you can begin to see what’s tired and overdone, what’s fresh, and what’s missing.

The importance of keeping your finger on the pulse doesn’t go away after you’ve made your first few sales, or even your first thousand. Technology, customer sentiments, and industry trends collectively make “useful,” “novel,” and “delightful” qualifiers that are constantly shifting. Most of what you produce, from new products to marketing strategies, will eventually be copied and, ultimately, become commonplace. Even a purple cow can’t stand out once the whole herd goes lavender.

There’s also the matter of misplaced energy. As Marty Neumeier says in his book The Brand Gap, creative people “describe how [the world] could be. Their thinking is often so fresh that they zag even when they should zig.” That’s a nice self-congratulatory pat on the back, but the message is fiercely true: prioritizing the work to be done in your business also means applying creative rigor where it truly matters.

Sometimes “best practices” really are the best practice, and you’ll only come to know them by studying what other entrepreneurs are already doing. Why force yourself to innovate in an area of your business that you’re not looking to compete in? Why not simply excel by using what’s been proven to work?

Those who build

Businesses that attain any modicum of traction invite comparison of their products, their marketing campaigns, and, if they get big enough, even their stock price. When you start a business few things come cheap, but comparison you get for free.

So instead of fighting the current, why not apply this reality where it makes sense? Compare to learn, compare to earn. But always remember those who build—your kind—are uniquely suited to deliver what the world wants. You shouldn’t let comparison tell you otherwise.

Illustration by Cornelia Li

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How We’re Investing to Reverse Climate Change — Sustainability

How We’re Investing to Reverse Climate Change — Sustainability

One year ago, we launched Shopify’s Sustainability Fund to address a hard, irrefutable truth: there’s too much carbon in the air.

Our planet is in crisis. Humans are emitting too much pollution and we’re not yet doing enough to slow it down. Even if we stopped all emissions tomorrow, there’s still too much carbon in our atmosphere—so we need to remove some of it. As a company with a 100-year vision, Shopify has a vested interest in making sure the next century is worth reaching.

Today is the day we open our notebooks and share our progress from the fund’s first year.

We’re revealing how we spent the fund’s first $5 million on the most promising and innovative solutions fighting climate change—and the visionary entrepreneurs behind them.

We identified 10 industries we believe have the potential to reverse climate change, and we’re investing in each of them. None of them can do it alone—we need to invest everywhere: in solutions that are ready to go right now and in technologies that are still in their infancy but could have a massive impact in the long term.

Specifically, we need to invest in carbon removal. Not just emission reductions and not just offsets. We need to pull carbon directly out of the atmosphere and store it away permanently. That’s where we spent the bulk of our 2020 fund, and we’ll continue to do so in future years.

Kickstarting the carbon removal market

I thought it would be easy to spend the money. I thought it would be gone in the blink of an eye. Turns out, it’s not as simple as you’d think to effectively invest in ground-breaking technologies to reverse climate change.

Many low-cost nature-based solutions are available, like forest protection and coastal restoration projects. They’re important, and we’re investing in them, but they only reduce or temporarily store carbon—they’re not permanent removal solutions. Permanent removals ensure that stored carbon is not re-released into the atmosphere before we’re done reversing climate change.

Mountain landscape

The carbon removal market is brand new. There are precious few companies in this space. Most are in the research and testing phases. Even the ones that are ready to go have limited quantities of carbon removal available, and they’re expensive.

This brave new frontier still has tumbleweeds. There is so much open landscape ripe for development, ready for hungry entrepreneurs who are keen to change the world, and begging for brave investors willing to fund the process.

If you take one thing from this article, I hope it’s this: the world needs more carbon removal entrepreneurs and investors to support them.

Our approach

Instead of issuing a traditional request for proposals, we tried something different to select our investments. We did our own research, consulted with the team of scientific experts at Carbon Direct, and had lengthy discussions with dozens of businesses. This took a lot of time and effort, but it meant we got to meet high-potential companies in such early stages that they may not have felt ready to submit a proposal.

We invested in pilot projects. We bought unverified credits. We overpaid, significantly in some cases, for carbon removal. Since most removal technologies haven’t scaled yet, the process is expensive and so is the purchase price.

The only way to allow the industry to scale and bring down costs is to invest now, regardless of the price.

We chose to take risks, to bet on the entrepreneurs behind the companies, giving them the funding they need to innovate, perfect, scale, and show the world what their technology can do. In cases where we’ve purchased carbon removal methods that don’t work (and it’s bound to happen), we will have helped fund the research disproving it. That research will persist even if the company does not, and could lead to iterations, improvements, and breakthroughs.

Our goal is to:

  • kickstart the carbon removal market
  • allow new companies to prove their impact and scale
  • generate demand when there previously was none
  • drive down prices for future buyers looking to make a difference

How we spent the fund

We chose 10 industries that we believe can help reverse climate change and divided our investments into two portfolios.

Shopify's Sustainability Fund portfolio split

Frontier portfolio

Groundbreaking technologies and companies that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere. Our goal is to spend most of the fund in this category each year.

Read a case study profiling each of our Frontier investments:

Evergreen portfolio

Key solutions that temporarily remove or reduce carbon emissions. We need to invest in options like these so we can put them to use right now, while other permanent carbon removal technologies begin to scale for the long term.

Read a case study profiling each of our Evergreen investments:

We made 13 purchases across nine of our chosen industries. For more details around each, head to our Sustainability Fund page.

We’ve created an educational primer for each industry, outlining their potential and our investments within them.

View them all

Case studies

We’d like to introduce you to two of our investments: one promising engineered solution that has proven technology ready to scale and one wildly creative nature-based solution that we’re placing a bet on, helping to fund its research and experimentation.

1. Carbon Engineering

Carbon Engineering's direct air capture technology

Location: Squamish, BC, Canada

Founded: 2009

Harvard professor David Keith founded Carbon Engineering to investigate direct air capture (DAC), because it was becoming increasingly clear that even bringing global emissions to zero would not be enough.

Carbon Engineering now has proven technology that can suck CO₂ right out of the air. Their goal is to work with partners to build facilities that capture one million tons of CO₂ per year—the equivalent of annual emissions from 250,000 cars or the work of 40 million trees.

The fundamental value of our technology is that it can eliminate any carbon dioxide emission from any place and any moment in time.

Steve Oldham, Carbon Engineering CEs

Currently, Carbon Engineering is building an Innovation Centre in Squamish, BC, to refine their CO₂ capture process, with plans to build the world’s largest DAC facility in the Permian Basin in the coming years. Their technology can be located almost anywhere. That means they can build facilities in ideal locations that have low-cost clean energy to power the system or in spots where it’s easy to permanently store CO₂ underground. Even if natural gas is used to power the plant, all CO₂ emissions from the combustion process are captured and stored underground along with the atmospheric CO₂.

Carbon Engineering's direct air capture plant rendering

Essentially, Carbon Engineering’s technology pulls in air, uses chemical reactions to extract CO₂, then puts the rest of the air back into the atmosphere. It’s like a man-made tree but faster, taking up less land and delivering pure, compressed CO₂ that can be stored underground or reused.

Shopify has agreed to purchase permanent carbon removal from Carbon Engineering’s Innovation Centre as a demonstration of our belief in this method and to provide them with a new revenue stream so they can keep scaling their technology.

Read more

2. Running Tide

Ocean sunset

Location: Portland, ME, USA

Founded: 2017

Marty Odlin grew up on offshore boats near Portland, Maine. He saw firsthand the impact of climate change on the fishing industry, so he started Running Tide to help ocean aquaculture.

Running Tide grows oysters: a zero-carbon superfood that naturally stores carbon within its shell. But oysters are only the beginning.

Marty’s grand plan is to use the ocean as a lever to solve the climate crisis, and he believes one of the most powerful tools to do this with is kelp, a type of seaweed. Running Tide grows kelp specifically to sequester carbon and sink it deep into the ocean.

Seaweed kelp

Kelp is a powerful CO₂ storage system with the ability to grow many times faster than trees. Kelp forests can store up to 20 times more carbon per acre than land forests.

Running Tide plans to attach kelp to a biodegradable buoy with a timer. After six to nine months, the timer pops the buoy, flooding it with water and sinking it to the ocean’s depths. Marty calculates that kelp sunk 1,000 meters deep will store CO₂ for at least 1,000 years.

All work is important in carbon reduction, but some people have to try to kill the monster. Everyone should try to slow it down, but we should pick 15–20 technologies that might be able to stop the whole thing all by themselves. That’s what we’re trying to build.

Marty Odlin, Running Tide founder

Marty’s ambitious plan involves scaling this project quickly to grow as much kelp and store as much CO₂ as possible. The goal is one billion tons of CO₂ by 2025. He’s testing his technology with a pilot project later this year, with plans for verification in mid-2021. Shopify’s purchase enables Running Tide to recover and monitor research data from the ocean to assess the success of this innovative approach. We’ll also fund future deployments when the time is right to scale.

Read more

Calling all entrepreneurs & investors

If there ever was a market ripe for disruption, it’s the carbon removal industry.

The tidal wave of large companies and governments looking to invest in ways to reduce their carbon footprint has begun. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s a competitive advantage as a business. There are so many untapped solutions in every industry that have the potential to be brought to life with the right combination of entrepreneurship and investment.

Right now, that combination doesn’t exist. We need so many more entrepreneurs in this space. And we need more investors that are brave enough to get involved early to help them scale.

We can’t wait until everything is proven and economically feasible. We have to invest now, in the earliest stages, to make sure that these promising technologies become mainstream and don’t die at the pilot stage.

Our next steps

With our first year’s investments signed, we have established industry connections with experts across multiple fields. We’re excited to continue learning as we move toward spending Shopify’s 2021 Sustainability Fund.

There is more to accomplish. We’re sure there will be failures along the way. But we know what direction we need to go in, so we’ve started moving there and we’ll figure it out as we go. Not knowing what the end game looks like should never be a reason to avoid taking action.

Stay tuned for more news about our environmental investments and the most high-potential companies we discover along the way.

Know a company you believe could reverse climate change? Let us know at [email protected]

Illustration by Borja Bonaque

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Behind the Scenes of How I Built Over 2.5 Million Followers

Behind the Scenes of How I Built Over 2.5 Million Followers

BossBabe is a global community of unapologetically ambitious women. With over 14.4M uses of our trademarked hashtag #BossBabe + well over 2 Million followers on Instagram + a profitable 7-figure company, Natalie Ellis & Danielle Canty have built one of the largest online communities of ambitious women & female entrepreneurs.

Together, they have worked with over 5,000 entrepreneurs – from brand new entrepreneurs looking to make their first $100 to those at the 6, 7, and 8 figure mark start, grow, and scale their businesses.

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Five Success Principles Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Heed

Five Success Principles Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Heed

When you’re looking to make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship, it’s best to study the journeys of success stories who have come before you. History is a great lesson, as when studied carefully, we can learn from the mistakes of others and refine our approach to perfect our craft. Most importantly, we can learn the success principles that really matter and should always be abided by as we progress toward a profitable business. 

The mistake aspiring entrepreneurs make is thinking they can simply “jump right in” to the doing part of things while ignoring principles like mindset, planning, and identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement. In other words, it’s great to have all your bases covered, as well as knowing your blind spots.

As I’ve built my own business as an author, professional speaker, and executive coach, I’ve realized that five guiding principles have made the difference between pro and amateur. The truth is, there’s so much more to succeeding as an entrepreneur than just the power of your product or customer service. You need to consistently practice what you preach and get better each day if you want to survive and thrive. Here are five success principles to practice if you want to create a business that has what it takes to succeed for the long haul.

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1. Planning + Execution = Achieving Daily Goals 

This is both a success formula and a principle that is very simple in nature, yet profound in impact. You need to have a plan in order to successfully execute. The problem with many entrepreneurs is they think they can begin without a strategy. Sure, they’ve given things thought and they’ve dreamed about it for months or years. But it takes a lot more than just an idea to succeed. 

Dr. Kelly McGonigal, Stanford University psychologist, points out that creating a framework for goal setting is pivotal. In other words focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. 

“That’s basically just brain chemistry. Any sort of avoidance is going to trigger inhibition systems, whereas positive goals are going to trigger approach and reward motivation.”

plan to reach goals

The first step to planning is carving time into your schedule. Build-in dedicated time on your calendar to actual planning. It’s not sexy. Most people won’t brag about it. Yet, planning is what the world’s most successful entrepreneurs do. From there, you’re able to build out the dream day you want. You then have the blueprint in front of you and you can tie this to wanting to achieve, which makes the process better.

Motivation is absolutely essential, as a key part of emotional intelligence, and getting self-motivated takes self-awareness. To set achievable, high-impact goals, you must know what you want and you must fuse it with a desire to achieve it.

2. Two Things You Can Control – Your Attitude and Your Effort

This is the maxim that has meant the most to me in my life and it’s enabled me to write two bestselling books, work with executive clients around the globe, and deliver speaking engagements for industry-leading organizations. You can always approach every day with a positive attitude. This impacts the way you think and how you see yourself. 

You can always outwork the competition. You do not have control over the changes in the market, and certainly not a global pandemic. But you always have control over how you react. This is about adaptability and requires emotional intelligence and analysis. If you’re observing prospective clients shifting to different buying habits, then you must adapt and meet them where they are. You have control over that.

You don’t have control over a prospective client’s buying decision, but you can certainly influence their behavior by being prepared, understanding their needs and challenges, and offering a way to solve them. 

3. Know Your Greatness. Know Your Weaknesses

If you’re sitting here thinking, “I know I can do this. I’ve always believed I can do this. I just have to figure out how to build some momentum,” then you’re able to look yourself in the mirror with clear eyes and know you’ve got the goods. This is the exact thought sequence that played back in my mind prior to launching my leadership development business. 

I knew I had the goods. I believed it and other people told me. That was the starting point. The most important part was understanding why I felt that way, which further informed the things I was good at. Once I had the foundation for greatness, it was simply time to execute.

man sitting in front of a mirror

So, I turn to you and ask: What is your greatness? What is the thing (or things) that you do so well, that comes so naturally to you, that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the goods? This belief and self-awareness create MOMENTUM. It puts the wheels in motion to get you moving from aspiring to acting. Taking action is where it’s at. 

Then, know what you don’t do well. This is not meant to be a frustrating, cathartic exercise that leaves you down. Knowing your weaknesses is actually a strength! This means you outsource these things and find partners who can complete them for you. This means you stop pouring hours and hours of time into things you don’t know, or you don’t do well, and you instead use your time to focus on the things you do well to increase your productivity.

In turn, you increase your likelihood of succeeding. 

Last, when it comes to knowing your strengths and weaknesses, remember this: You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. As you go through this thinking, don’t fret about what you don’t do well. Don’t feel like you need to justify your talents and greatness to anyone but yourself. This will enable you to pour your energy, heart, and soul into producing your best product and effort. That’s what the marketplace wants and needs.

4. Create a “Recharged Cyclical Mindset”

What is this? It’s a mindset that has both a beginning and end for each day and each process. It’s how you approach every part of your day and rejuvenate your energy with powerful thoughts, visualization, affirmations, and fun challenges to enable you to compete and rise to every new challenge. So, what does it look like? 

Step 1: Gratitude 

Give thanks at the beginning of your day for the blessings you have in your life. Even if you haven’t yet attained the success you want, be grateful that you have the opportunity to go for it! Not everyone does  so never take that for granted. Saying thank you (orally) and even journaling these thoughts is a very powerful, therapeutic way to get you in the right state of mind.

Step 2: Creative Thoughts that Kindle Your Fire 

What lights the fire inside of you? You might get energized thinking about that moment when your new product achieves its first 1,000 sales. Maybe you’re excited about the actual process of creating, testing, and tweaking. If you’re aspiring to be an entrepreneur, you have the creative bug. You have the itch. Something inside of you is stirring with passion to do great things.

It’s called fire and to get into a recharged mindset, you’re going to want to think deep on the things that really motivate and inspire you.

image of brain and thoughts

Step 3: Visualization Tied to Purpose 

See yourself doing great things by walking play-by-play through the steps that it will take to get there. See yourself winning. This is always best when it’s tied to your purpose, which is your “why” for doing what you’re doing. Purpose ignites progress. See yourself making progress and use your progress to complete the mental mapping process for the future.

Step 4: Focus on What Matters Most 

This is two parts: 

  1. Execute and get in the mindset of doing what needs to get done
  2. It’s also a call to focus on the people and things that matter most to you in your life. Everything else is a distant second.

Step 5: Self-Reflection 

Look back at your day, not with criticism, but with pride and inspiration for how to be successful again tomorrow. What worked? What didn’t? And most importantly what did you learn about yourself and your budding business?

Successful entrepreneurs have a learning mindset. They dedicate time every day to learning about their product, industry, and the marketplace. Things can change in an instant. A self-reflection process enables you to evaluate and stay on top.

Step 6: Recharge 

Wind down and decompress. I literally decompress my spine each day using an inversion table. It makes me feel relaxed. I also get a healthy night of sleep and drink lots of water. You can have a meditation practice or spend 15 minutes reading uplifting literature. Maybe you just need to watch a show on DVR that helps you chill. Don’t burn out. Recharge instead. 

5. Build One New Relationship Every Day

The best leadership advice I’ve ever received is very simple: Start building relationships right away. This includes the relationship you have with yourself and the relationships you build in your personal and professional life. Let’s focus here on the latter. You will grow your ideas, you will grow yourself, and you will grow your business by focusing on building relationships. 

Even if you run an entirely online business, you still need the relationships that come from working with freelancers, distributors, partners, and clients. Take advantage of social media sites like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram. Find people in your space that you admire and ask them about how they became successful. Don’t hesitate reach out and ask!

Concluding Thoughts

The often-overlooked ingredients of entrepreneurial success are truly the principles that will guide you through good times and bad. The right mindset positions you for continuous growth. Setting goals works both your planning and execution muscles that need to work in harmony to complete the tasks at hand. You’re best positioned for success when you focus on what you do well and spend time continuing to lean into those strengths. Before long, you’ll see your journey unfolding in front of you in exactly the way you’ve always imagined.

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Christopher Connors

Christopher Connors

Christopher Connors is an author and executive coach. His books include The Value of You and Emotional Intelligence for the Modern Leader.

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The Top 10 Facebook Post Templates For Ecommerce Businesses

The Top 10 Facebook Post Templates For Ecommerce Businesses

Your business’ Facebook profile is like a mini version of your website that Facebook users can discover and interact with, so you want to put your brand’s best foot forward at all times so you can grow your following and in turn, grow your customer base. One of the best ways to create a beautiful Facebook page that users want to follow, like, comment on and share is by using Facebook post templates.

Facebook post templates are professionally designed digital assets that brands use to create beautiful, functional, and consistent Facebook posts that tell their brand story. These templates are created by professional graphic designers, so they’re beautiful to look at and optimized to encourage user interactions, but the templates can be edited by brands, typically via programs like Adobe Photoshop or Canva, so the brands can tailor them to fit their own needs and styles.

Note: Don’t know the Photoshop basics? Check out the beginner Photoshop tutorials on Skillshare to get started. We’ve curated the best Photoshops basics Skillshare classes in our Best Skillshare Classes For Ecommerce Business Merchants article, amongst other great classes for ecommerce entrepreneurs to take.

So no matter whether you’re creating cover photos and profile pictures for your brand’s Facebook account, or posts and ads to catch the attention of Facebook users, these Facebook post templates can easily be customized and edited (by you!) to suit your exact needs.

As with our 25 Gorgeous Instagram Templates for Ecommerce Businesses article, we sourced these Facebook post templates from Creative Market, a design marketplace that makes it easier for ecommerce business owners to manage all of the design demands of their business without having any formal graphic design training. We highly recommend checking out Creative Market for any and all graphic design assets your business might need like logos, stock photos, social media templates, fonts, and more, and we even have an entire Creative Market review dedicated to the service for those interested in learning more about the features and services Creative Market offers. Another service that offers hundreds of Facebook post templates that you can use to instantly create beautiful Facebook posts for your brand’s feed is Placeit—which we suggest checking out in conjunction with the Facebook post templates listed in this article.

If you’re ready to create beautiful Facebook posts for your brand’s Facebook page that look like they were created by professionals themselves, then check out these top 10 Facebook post templates.

The Top 10 Best Facebook Post Templates

Whitespace Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $16 Compatible With: Photoshop & InDesign

A classic design, these Facebook post templates are a good starting point for any ecommerce business. The Juniper Facebook template pack is a multi-purpose set of templates that includes plenty of whitespace and clean designs which makes them easily transferable from one niche to the next. Since the designs are so streamlined, they’ll give your Facebook page a beautifully professional look that’s sure to engage your visitors.

This Facebook template pack includes 16 design variations in both Facebook post and cover photo styles, and they’re fully customizable so you can edit all the images, fonts, colors, and elements to create the exact posts you’re looking to create. They are, however, made to be used as-is, so if you want as little editing to do as possible, these are great Facebook post templates to work with.

All of the images you see on the product page are included with the pack, so you’ll be able to use them in your Facebook posts if you wish. The fonts are not included with the pack, but they are free to download and the links are included with the Facebook templates pack.

You can easily edit these Facebook post templates in Photoshop or InDesign, and if you’re looking for a complete set of social media images that you can share across all your different profiles, then check out the corresponding Juniper Branding Bundle which includes magazine templates, portfolio templates, flyer templates, brochure templates, business card templates, Instagram templates and more.

Check out the Whitespace Facebook Post Templates


Modern Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $20 Compatible With: Photoshop & InDesign

These modern Facebook post templates are perfect for businesses and brands with a contemporary aesthetic looking for lots of variety with their social media images. This pack of Facebook post templates includes 32 design variations for Facebook posts and Facebook cover photos and also includes free unlicensed images and all fonts have links to where they can be downloaded from.

Each of the Facebook post templates can be edited to suit your own branding, such as by replacing any images, changing colors, using alternate fonts, and any other elements to create unique Facebook posts to impress your customers with.

These Facebook templates can be edited in Photoshop or InDesign, which is what makes the editing process so customizable and the quality of the posts so professional. For a more complete social media pack that not only includes the Facebook post templates but Instagram templates, blog image templates, Pinterest post templates, and more, check out the Lumina Social Media Bundle here.

Check out the Modern Facebook Post Templates


Fresh Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $20 Compatible With: Photoshop & InDesign

To create a beautiful and varied Facebook feed with pleasant images that are muted, understated yet eye-catching, these are the Facebook templates to check out.

Perfect for brands that err on the side of minimalism and are looking to cultivate a fresh and bright Facebook feed, the Naturalis Facebook post templates pack is likely to be exactly what you’re looking for.

This Facebook post templates pack includes templates for both Facebook posts as well as Facebook cover photos so you can maintain consistent branding across your entire profile, and the pack also includes over 32 design variations that can be edited and customized to suit your brand entirely.

This Facebook post templates pack is particularly unique because it includes over 50 professionally-shot, high-resolution images that are unlicensed and free to use by any brand that purchases this Facebook templates pack. Having this library of images to choose from can be exactly what you need to make a stellar impression on your Facebook audience by bringing high-quality content to your Facebook posts.

These aren’t stock photos that you’ll find anywhere else so if you’re interested in incorporating these images into your Facebook posts, you’ll need to get this Facebook template pack!

Check out the Fresh Facebook Post Templates


Dropshipping Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $15 Compatible With: Photoshop

Like we mentioned in our Dropshipping 101: The Definitive Guide to Building a Dropshipping Business article, dropshipping is a majorly popular business model in the ecommerce industry due to its low-risk nature and accessible start-up potential. If you operate a business via dropshipping, or you plan to, these Facebook post templates were created specifically for your business model!

These 50 ready-to-use designs were created to help ecommerce entrepreneurs drive more traffic and conversions to their site, so if that’s what you plan to do with your Facebook feed then you’re in the right place.

This pack of Facebook templates includes 50 ready-to-use templates that are fully editable and customizable in Photoshop, and they also include free fonts and images so you can use them as they are without having to input your own.

The designs are fully adaptable so they’ll work for any niche, no matter what kinds of products you’re dropshipping, and the images can be used for Facebook posts or Facebook cover photos so your branding can be consistent throughout your profile.

Check out the Dropshipping Facebook Post Templates


Contemporary Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $49 Compatible With: Canva

If you have no experience with Photoshop and you need Facebook templates you can edit without it, we highly recommend checking out these Facebook post templates that are editable with Canva. It’s a more user-friendly editing service that can produce very similar results to Photoshop, and this Facebook template pack has been created especially for Canva users!

This Facebook template pack is a great starting point for brands that want a little bit of everything as it includes 4 Facebook banner variations, 9 Facebook post variations, 4 Facebook Ad variations, an editable mood board template, how-to videos, and bonus tips and resources.

Create a cohesive Facebook feed with consistent cover photos, posts, and ads that tell your brand story and will get Facebook users liking, sharing, and commenting on your content.

Check out the Contemporary Facebook Post Templates


Minimal Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $21 Compatible With: Photoshop

These Facebook post templates have been tailored specifically to business owners and brands who have created a Facebook group and are using it as a way to build a community and grow engagement, traffic, and conversions to their site. Each Facebook template has been created with consistency in mind so that you can use this pack to create professional-looking content for your Facebook group without taking up too much of your precious time.

This Facebook post templates pack includes 10 Facebook cover photo designs, 10 Facebook post/ad designs, all font links for easy downloads, and an instructional PDF. While all the fonts, colors, images, and elements of the Facebook templates are easily editable and can be customized to suit your brand, it’s important to note that this pack of Facebook post templates does not include any of the images shown on the product page.

If you’re cultivating a Facebook group and want an inexpensive way to make it look as professional and put-together as possible, then check out these Facebook post templates.

Check out the Minimal Facebook Post Templates


Editorial Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $16 Compatible With: Photoshop

This is an edgy set of Facebook post templates for the brand that’s bold and pushes the envelope.

This pack includes 10 Facebook banner designs, 10 Facebook cover photo designs, 10 minimal logo designs, 25 Facebook post banners, free unlicensed images, and free fonts; each of which can be individually customized and edited to match your own branding.

If you’re interested in a bundle that includes Facebook post templates as well as Instagram post and story templates for a more complete social media branding strategy, then check out the corresponding Agenda Bundle pack.

If you’re a brand with a big personality and want that to reflect in your Facebook posts, these are the Facebook post templates for you.

Check out the Editorial Facebook Post Templates


Simple Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $35 Compatible With: Photoshop

For Facebook templates you just want to be able to set-and-forget, this is the Facebook template to check out. This set comes with 250 Facebook post templates that are pre-created with free fonts and images so you can use them as they are or edit them to suit your liking, and you can use them as Facebook posts, banners, or cover photos because the dimensions are easy to edit and infinitely scalable to any size you like.

If you’re a complete beginner, this pack of Facebook post templates also comes with a video tutorial on how to use the product and also a social media cheat sheet so you can edit and scale the images to the dimensions you need.

If you just need Facebook post templates that are low-maintenance and no-fuss, check out this pack for great-quality templates in a large variety of styles.

Check out the Simple Facebook Post Templates


Professional Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $19 Compatible With: Photoshop

This is the ultimate kit for business owners and brands that want to put their best foot forward with a totally pro-looking Facebook profile.

This bundle includes over 162 templates and it has it all: Facebook Ad banners that comply with Facebook advertising rules, Facebook post templates, Facebook cover photo templates, and a bonus of 5 birthday card templates that can be personalized and sent to friends, followers, or customers on Facebook. Each of the templates is fully customizable and includes free unlicensed photos and free fonts as well.

This pack truly has it all and if you’re the type of brand that posts frequently or doesn’t want to repeat the same type of post too often, this pack has a wide variety of templates to choose from so you don’t have too many repeats.

Check out the Professional Facebook Post Templates


Elegant Facebook Post Templates

Powered by Creative Market

Price: $18 Compatible With: Photoshop

This pack of Facebook post templates includes 15 designs in three different sizes (for Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and Twitter posts, respectively) which gives you a wide range of template options to use across your various social media platforms.

You can maintain consistency across your Facebook profile with these 15 editable and customizable templates and the pack also includes free fonts that you can use in your posts as well. This pack of Facebook post templates does not include images so keep that in mind, but it’s easy to add your own in the editing process with free and unlicensed images you find online, like the ones from our 200+ Curated Graphic & Brand Design Resources article.

Check out this pack of Facebook post templates for beautifully designed posts you can use across your various social platforms to grow your following and engage your audience.

Check out the Elegant Facebook Post Templates



Beautiful, professional, and well-designed Facebook posts can help you quickly grow your following, which can help you get more traffic to your website and subsequently, more conversions. Use this roundup of the top 10 Facebook post templates to find the right templates to suit your brand so you can create compelling images that tell your brand story and cultivate a beautiful feed that Facebook users will want to interact with.

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Here’s Why This Entrepreneur Shut Down a Six Figure One Product Store

Here’s Why This Entrepreneur Shut Down a Six Figure One Product Store

We all know the feeling of wanting to quit our jobs, get out of the nine-to-five grind, and start a brand new venture. 

It might be an inkling that comes and goes, or maybe it’s a desire you’ve had for years. Whatever the case, the idea of being totally in charge of a project, the hours you work, and where you work are some of the most enticing things about entrepreneurship

In 2019, Mitchell Sandridge felt this same pull and eventually gave up a steady career working for an Australian charity to go all-in on ecommerce. 

It wasn’t easy, but Mitchell was under no illusions that it would be.

Over the next 18 months, the Australian entrepreneur took a slow, careful approach that saw him scale a store to over $1 million Australian dollars, before shutting it down to get his business in order. 

Mitchell has had some phenomenal success since starting in early 2019. But building one stand-out store was never his only goal. Instead, he’s put in time to create systems that can be replicated over multiple stores, giving him a solid foundation to build a suite of online brands.

We sat down with Mitchell to hear how he did and to learn some of his techniques.

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Changing Careers and Going Full-Time on Ecommerce

Mitchell Sandridge entrepreneur

In early 2019, Mitchell lived in Sydney and worked a typical nine-to-five job in the fundraising team for the Heart Foundation of Australia.

Part of his job included managing a well-known fundraising initiative called Jump Rope for Heart. With schools all across the Australian participating in the program, his role involved a lot of travel.

With the monotony of the 40 hour work week wearing him down, Mitchell started using his spare time while traveling to look into alternative careers. After going down a YouTube rabbit hole, he came across dropshipping and began learning everything he could about ecommerce.

“I used that time to learn and develop my skills, and I slowly but surely built an online business.“

Mitchell’s first store – a niche store – sold small, home decor products. It was the perfect testing ground for the skills he’d picked up from videos and articles. The store had moderate success but also taught him some valuable lessons he was able to grow from.

“I had a bit of failure at first, obviously. I thought, ‘oh yeah, you can just put a product online, and that will sell.’ Obviously, that’s not the case. It does require a bit more work.”

“Once I started giving it more effort – actually putting the work in – that’s when I found some success.”

Finding Winning Products With Viral Potential

Mitchell used his first store to test everything from products to sales and marketing techniques. Although he says the store wasn’t much of a success in terms of profit, it allowed him to firm up his skills and paved the way for his second store.

Despite his store being in the home decor niche, Mitchell used it to test items from various categories that he believed could be winning products. Rather than searching for winning products that other dropshippers were already selling, he took a very different approach, which led to him finding an unexpected winning product.

“My approach to product searching and testing is, I look for products that have the potential to go viral and have a wow factor. I saw [his winning product] on AliExpress… There weren’t too many orders actually, so it hadn’t been tested before. They weren’t in much demand. And I thought, ‘Oh, you could make a pretty cool video of this.’”

He immediately put the item, which is from the children’s clothing category, on his home decor store and tested some ads. Soon the sales started rolling in and he knew he was onto something.

“Once I saw I was getting sales with that, I’m like, ‘This actually has potential!’”

With his product a proven winner, he focussed his energy on building a dedicated one product store that he knew would convert better.

Immediate Success and Scaling

Mitchell launched his one product store in September 2019, and pretty soon, it was apparent that this store would be more successful than his first.

Mitchell’s a big believer that original content sets a store up for success in both the short and long term. This feeds back into his belief that a winning product needs to have the potential to go viral within the target market. When he started his one product store, Mitchell made an effort to get a lot of original content.

“I think one of the biggest reasons for my success was just creating original footage. So I would hire influencers and also people from Fiverr who I would send the product, and they could film footage for me. And that way, people on Facebook that haven’t seen it before, it catches their attention.”

By using photos and videos created especially for his store, Mitchell established his brand as the go-to store for this product, making it hard for the copy-cats that would inevitably follow. This included things like setting up email funnels and using well-branded emails to keep the store on customer’s radars.

Mitchell Sandridge abandoned cart emails

Mitchell continued scaling the store throughout October 2019, and by the time it reached November, things got crazy.

Massive Success Exposes Problems

In the lead up to Black Friday, Mitchell’s store had some monumental moments.

On November 9, the store had its biggest day, making over $17,500 in sales and leaving Mitchell with around $3500 in profit from just 24 hours of work – or around $4700 in Australian dollars.

The success and money were more than Mitchell could’ve hoped. When he’d started, he was hoping to make $100 in profit a day.

Mitchell Sandridge Nov 9 sales

Mitchell continued scaling and prepared for a massive four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. He secured an agent who sped up the processing time, but with 300 orders a day it had become a big operation. The massive popularity of the product exposed weak points in his business.

“[The store] really took off in November. And I was also having a lot of issues through Facebook ads and suppliers.”

Mitchell considered bulk ordering products and sending them to a fulfillment center in the US to minimize shipping times for his customers, but it was too late by that stage. He wanted to avoid disasters and wanted to keep the momentum he had gathered. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible.

Many of the products ordered over Black Friday weekend were supposed to be Christmas gifts, but despite his supplier promising they’d be sent in time, many of the items were late.

Mitchell Sandridge BFCMHitting Pause and Regrouping

At this stage, Mitchell realized the best thing he could do was stop his ads, get things under control, and build a more robust system.

“We did have some problems throughout November and December. The agent promised me that orders done before Black Friday would get there by Christmas, and a lot of orders weren’t. So I did take some time out, just to get everything back [to normal] – like refunding those customers who were disappointed.”

Eager to keep his customers as happy as possible, Mitchell got his virtual assistants (VAs) to focus a lot of energy on customer service. And with customer service under control, Mitchell was able to focus his energy on problems elsewhere.

“I hired some great people from the Philippines through Fiverr, and they were like life-saving actually. They were just making sure every email and every comment got replied to and just keeping customers informed.”

Outsourcing and spending money on VAs is something Mitchell learned while running his first store. And he thoroughly recommends it to others who are scaling stores.

“With the first store, I was scaling without a plan. I didn’t have the system in place. I didn’t have customer service in place, and I couldn’t keep up with the demand. As soon as you are reaching maybe 20 or 30 orders a day, you want to look into getting a VA to help you out. Because customer service is something you can always delegate as long as you have a system in place. Your time could be better spent elsewhere.”

In the end, between Mitchell and his VAs they handled all customer queries and complaints. Although he expected people to be mad that the product was shipping from China, this was almost a non-issue. Additionally, he found that if customers were aware that shipping might take 2-3 weeks, they were generally content to wait, highlighting the importance of being upfront with customers before they buy.

Preparing for Relaunch and Looking Long-Term

Mitchell sales numbers

After working through the backlog of orders from November and December, Mitchell could finally turn his attention on setting up permanent changes to help his business long term.

Before pausing ads, Mitchell’s store made over $686,000 in sales in just three months. He knew having robust processes would only set the store up for more success. After months of work he’s now planning to bulk order his product to the United States to help get packages to customers in a more timely manner.

By setting up these systems for his main one product store, Mitchell’s also putting things in place to help future stores. He still has his old home decor store and is also working on a new store.

Ideally, he’d like to get the stage where one of his stores is almost autonomous and can focus on building others, ensuring he always has a stable income.

With such an ambitious plan in mind, it’s clear that Mitchell’s in ecommerce for the long haul. And while he’s already starting to move away from operating under a dropshipping model, he’s thankful for all the skills his dropshipping stores allowed him to develop.

“I think ecommerce is the way forward for a lot of people. There’s a lot of money to be made. I think dropshipping is a good entry into ecommerce, but then I think maybe after two or three years, you want to take it to the next level and build a sustainable business. Once you get confident, you’re like, ‘I have these skills for life.’ Like ‘I’ll always be able to advertise to someone and sell products.’”

Mitchell’s Tips for Beginners

Mitchell Sandridge entrepreneur skills

Mitchell’s careful approach has helped his store become an established brand. Soon he’ll be moving onto doing the same for other products. Looking back at his journey, he believes a few things helped him achieve all this.

Have a Good Mindset

Without the right mindset, Mitchell’s sure none of his success would’ve happened. He’s adamant that anyone wanting to make real money or progress with a business needs to have their head in the game.

“I think number one would come down to mindset. Before I found success, I was just [half assing] it. I never went the extra step. It wasn’t until I actually ordered the product to my house. I sent the products to other people, going the extra step that a lot of people don’t do. They just copy and steal videos.”

Write Down Daily Goals

While being an entrepreneur gives you free rein over your day, Mitchell tries to plan his out as much as possible to get the most from his time.

“I would always plan out my day in advance. I’d plan out the day the night before, write down what things I needed to accomplish the next day. That way, you don’t wake up and feel like ‘Oh, what am I doing today? Am I going to do the ads? Am I going to do this?’”

Mitchell’s daily lists mean he works with intention. As a result, he doesn’t waste time and only needs four or five hours a day to get everything done.

“I like to use the Pomodoro technique, where you focus for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. For each Pomodoro, I would choose a section or category for my business to focus on. I’m not a workaholic by any means at all. I like to wake up and then go to the gym. Come home. I only work maybe four or five hours a day.”

Reach Out to Others

Being an ecommerce entrepreneur can be a lonely career path. But Mitchell’s found that most entrepreneurs are more than willing to help others out when they can.

One example of this was when he needed help finding a dependable supplier for his store. Mitchell found good supplier who he’s been able to build a relationship with after simply reaching out to a few YouTube dropshippers and asking for recommendations.

Having a Game Plan

Forming a solid business plan is a fantastic way to start your business right. It clearly shows your path forward and is a massive help when you have periods of feeling unmotivated.

“Don’t get me wrong. There have been times like Christmas and January, where I was feeling down. I was not motivated to do anything. I think it is okay to take time out for yourself. You don’t need to grind 24/7 every day of the year. But when you want to put your plan to action, make sure you have a decent plan to start with. And as I said, writing down what I want to achieve tomorrow has been a big thing for me. I’m not sure if other people do that, but that’s how I piece out what needs to be accomplished.”

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Allanah Faherty

Allanah Faherty

Allanah Faherty is a content marketer at Oberlo. Allanah is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs through useful and interesting content, as well as movie trivia and cats.

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An Entrepreneurship Journey Full of Learnings

An Entrepreneurship Journey Full of Learnings

A lot of the time, being an entrepreneur can seem like a leap of faith into the unknown. And it’s understandable to be flooded by fears and insecurities before such an uncertain adventure.

Most of the time, these smaller fears all lead to one big one: Failure. However, Rafel Mayol has learned that giving up on your dream is the worst failure you can experience.

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Rafel Mayol’s Story of Success

Rafel Mayol is a young entrepreneur and founder of the online store Wiohair and the website, to name just a few.

When he got started with his first project, Rafel jumped into an unknown world with minimal information. Of course, he thought his business plan was infallible, but soon he found himself in several unexpected situations that kept success at bay.

Things might not have turned out as he thought they would, but he never stopped believing in himself throughout it. And most importantly: He never gave up.

Like many great successful entrepreneurs before him, Rafel saw an opportunity to learn where others only saw failure.

A Successful Business Based on Trial and Error

One of the most prominent fears entrepreneurs have is the fear of failure, Rafel explains.

“I tried three or four different businesses over two years that flopped for different reasons until I eventually hit success. People don’t even consider failure as a possibility. They get caught up on what others may think or are ashamed for wanting to give it a try.”

“Instead of being so afraid of not reaching your goal on the first try, you really should be scared of staying in your comfort zone for the next 20 years. Staying where you are is a defeat in itself.”

When you decide to start a dropshipping business and don’t even know exactly what dropshipping is, it’s perfectly understandable not to feel confident. This is where Rafel is a huge advocate of education.

“A lot of people trying to start a business see this investment as an unnecessary cost. However, it’s of the utmost importance. Investing in your own education is key in your future success.”

Investing in products that don’t end up yielding the desired results is another thing that often makes people feel unsuccessful. As Rafel is quick to say, “you have to keep going and try again if you want to fulfill your dreams.”

He adds that while it might be hard to part with your hard-earned cash, spending money to test products is necessary.

“Part of your budget must be spent on testing and trying new things. That’s how you become experienced. I failed a lot of times because I didn’t follow a strategy, but I ended up using a method that works.”

Each Entrepreneur Must Find Their Method

From the very beginning, you have to keep in mind that not everything works for everybody. Each person must come up with a unique method adapted to the way they work.

This is achieved by trial and error – getting things right, getting others wrong, and learning from those mistakes. Often, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do.

“I would rather start a business with minimal investment and reinvest whatever benefits it may yield than spending €50,000 right off the bat on inventory I’m not really sure I’m going to actually sell. Part of the fun comes from playing around with the different variables and getting better at it.”

“Be aware that there is a learning curve you can’t avoid if you want to achieve success.”

Though this observation might seem obvious, it’s easy to forget. Rafel knows first hand what starting a business, failing, and starting over from scratch entails.

“Success as an entrepreneur is never guaranteed 100 percent. Getting enough sales to cover investment and yield benefits depends on many factors.”

Starting a Business

Like many other entrepreneurs, Rafel didn’t start his own dropshipping business overnight. He first got started by working for a few years as an affiliate marketer. It was during this time that he realized the person making the most money was the store owner. And after this realization, he decided to start a business of his own.

Without much experience or a lot of capital, Rafel wanted to start a business that didn’t have a high initial cost. With a low barrier to entry and low risk, dropshipping was the answer.

“In my opinion, dropshipping is a great way to start as an entrepreneur because it gives you the possibility to prove you know how to sell, how much you know about marketing, and that you can solve problems that may come up.”

Finding Your Niche

When entrepreneurs start a business, they often make the mistake of creating something they would like. As a consequence, the only possible customer ends up being the store owner themselves. Rafel believes it’s essential to be aware of this pitfall beforehand, to avoid an easy mistake.

“The most important thing is the existence of demand. Many times, we find it hard to separate our hobbies and interests from what clients really want.”

This is the reason why when choosing what products you are going to sell,

Instead, Rafel suggests your store should target specific groups, but be mindful of narrowing your audience so much that you miss out in the broader market

“You have to find specialized dropshipping niches without falling in very small micro-niches where the chance of attaining significant growth is very little. If the product is too specific, it will only reach that specific audience interested in it.”

For this reason, before you start a business, you should carry out market research. Doing this will help shed light on finding winning products and getting them in front of the right people. After all, there’s no point in having a fantastic product if you’re targeting the wrong audience.

After gathering this information, you will know the niches with the least competition, and therefore have a higher chance of finding your spot in the market.

The Reality of Dropshipping: Profits vs. Sales

It’s a common mistake among new entrepreneurs to confuse their profit with sales, and falsely believe that high sales will always translate into big profit.

However, a company can have high levels of sales and yet barely have any profit. This is because the profit margin is not big enough, meaning that the costs are very

“A good online store has a profit margin between 20-35 percent after covering expenses such as advertisement, product cost, shipment, and other fees. If the margin is less than 15 percent, you need to start worrying.”

So, what’s the right profit margin to shoot for? Rafel has a pretty simple formula that’s served him well across his stores.

“You always have to keep a profit margin when you sell. The product shouldn’t cost more than a third of what [your customers’] paid for it unless we are talking about a high priced product. In that case, we could be looking at [a cost of] 45 percent [of the sales price].”

Rafel firmly believes that if you want to profit from the products you sell, you need to try to be close to the figures above. While setting prices can be intimidating, he’s quick to tell other budding entrepreneurs that they should not be afraid of setting high prices for their products. After all, it’s a standard set by every successful business that’s gone before.

“Multinationals do it. They sell their products at prices that allow them to have a great profit if compared to the production cost.”

It’s also important to remember that we’re not only talking about what we pay suppliers when we talk about costs. You also have to consider all other things – operations fees, taxes, advertisements, etc. All of these things quickly add up and chew into your profits far more than you initially expect.

Creating a Brand

Deciding on a name for your store is one of the most important things when it comes to creating and bolstering your business. It can often lead to big things in the future, such as branded products or packaging.

For these reasons, reinforcing his brand is always Rafel’s primary goal.

“I always sell all my products with my own labeling and branding to build my brand. If possible, I do it in-house to keep the costs low. The idea is to work towards something big in the long term.”

To get to that point, you need to continually re-evaluate your business interests and reinvest part of the profits to continue strengthening the brand. It can be tempting to take the profits and run, but if you want to build a long-term brand, reinvestment in these things will pay off majorly in the future.

Advertising is the Key to Getting Sales

While many crucial factors go into running a business, Rafel believes the most important thing when you are starting is the right mindset. He compares it to going to the gym to lose weight.

“If you sign up to it, but you never go, well, you are never going to lose weight.”

In Rafel’s experience, the same happens with a business. If you don’t aim for success and leave your comfort zone, there’s no way you’re going to make it.

“You have to be more scared of being in your comfort zone for 20 more years than not reaching your goal on your first attempt.”

In Rafel’s experience, people usually think that the most important thing to start a business is money. However, he wants to dispel this notion and thinks new entrepreneurs should focus solely on their customers.

“The key [to success] is marketing and engaging clients. The more you know about your customer, the easier it is to sell the product.”

And, one of the most direct ways of addressing your audience? Through advertising.

“A thing that really surprises me is that people are willing to spend €5,000 on a course, but when you tell them, they have to spend €50 on ads they are suddenly scared. I usually advertise five or six products and play around a bit to test different options.”

This strategy allows Rafel to see which product generates the most interest so he can invest more. it’s important to analyze all types of data when running a business and this certainly includes ad analytics. For example, look carefully at what your audience does after seeing your ad.

“If people access the store through the ad, but end up not buying the product, the problem is the store. Instead, if people are not even clicking on the ad, then we can safely assume the problem is the ad itself.”

Rafel has tried everything to boost sales in his stores but says that the better results always come from investing more in advertising.

“I’ve tried influencer marketing to promote some of my products, but nothing beats a good ad.”

Another good idea is to use that data to analyze your niche and compare it to your competition.

The ultimate goal is to gather information and data to design more effective ads that have a greater appeal to your audience. With that said, Rafel warns that there are some things to keep in mind, such as how audiences in different places will react to your product.

“If you are thinking of trying your luck in a different market, be aware that some products may work in some countries but not do that well in others.”

Outstanding Customer Support

While all of the above is necessary, Rafel believes there’s one thing that sets your store apart.

“If you really want results, you must have good Customer relationship management (CRM).”

The use of CRM enhances customer support and customer loyalty,  indirectly translating into an increase in sales. This is one of the reasons why Rafel uses Shopify.

“Before Shopify existed, everything had to be tailored specifically for you. This meant you had to hire a company and contact them if anything went wrong or there were changes to be made.”

One of the perks of dropshipping with Shopify is that it’s been created for entrepreneurs’ needs. This means that you, the store owner, don’t need any programming or coding skills to start.

“I look at the total costs. Shopify charges 1 percent, which is way less of what a developer would charge for the same service. In addition, you have the certainty that the platform will always be up and running. It is one less thing I have to worry about.”

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Entrepreneur Courses That Show the Reality of Dropshipping

When Rafel first started in the business world, he didn’t know what entrepreneurship truly meant. No one within his family or friend groups owned a business, so he paid to take courses to learn about it.

Rafel failed several times before he found success, which is something that goes hand in hand with being an entrepreneur . However, once he had a method that worked, he decided to share it with others.

“My first idea was to cater these courses towards companies, but I was discouraged by the growth I expected in that field. That’s why I started to teach individuals.”

And after catering his courses to individuals, his students soon found success.

“Sooner than I expected, I had 40 students with up to €10,000 in sales.”

His mentoring company has grown ever since, and now four of his former students teach alongside him.

Rafel thinks that his course has helped others succeed because everything he teaches is based on his own experience. He also rebukes traditional education because it does not prepare people sufficiently for entrepreneurship.

“Traditional or conventional education is great to find a job but not to start a business. Teachers have never done it themselves and, therefore, they can’t teach others how to do it.”

With so much to teach his students, Rafel takes them through each step of running a business. However, one of the main things he’s sure to warn them about are the naysayers. Rafel always warns his students that, the moment they say they want to start a business, somebody will tell them they are going to fail and should not risk it and remain in their comfort zone.

“I always tell my students that doing nothing is the biggest risk you can take. You are an ordinary person that has decided to do something extraordinary. If people criticize you, take that as a sign that you’re doing things right.”


Ana Barbero

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5 Consumer Trends Accelerated by COVID-19

5 Consumer Trends Accelerated by COVID-19

How much of “the new normal” is here to stay? Based on our research, buying habits, like everything else, have changed—maybe forever. 

In the past few months, I have bought plant-based cheese online, had prescriptions delivered to my door, purchased virtual yoga classes, and picked up beer curbside—all for the first time ever. Sound familiar? Turns out, I’m no exception.

53% of North American buyers said that the pandemic has changed the way they will shop going forward.

In June, we surveyed buyers in Canada and the US and asked: “How have your buying habits changed since the spread of COVID-19?” Participants shared how they shopped and spent their money in early 2020 and how those behaviors compared to the first three months of the pandemic’s spread in North America (March to June 2020). 

As the dust settles and we return to wearing pants in lieu of everyday sleepwear, some distinct patterns have emerged. Our research shows a marked increase in online shopping, an appetite for virtual experiences, more adoption of local pickup and delivery methods, and widespread support for small, independent businesses. Gift card purchases are up, too, as are payment plan purchases.

The consumer trends defining 2020—and their long-term effects

Perhaps more surprising than any individual shift is the evidence that these emerging trends are here to stay: 53% of North American buyers said that the pandemic has changed the way they will shop going forward.

What does this mean for you as a business owner? Here, we’ll dig into the data and explore five consumer trends spurred by the pandemic, why they’ll have staying power, and how you can successfully adapt your business in 2020 and beyond.

1. Increase in online shopping

Lockdown orders across North America saw many retail stores close temporarily or indefinitely, while others scrambled to shift to an online-only strategy. The spillover effects have forced buyers to adjust their habits, too.

Data visualization depicting stat: Over half of buyers (52%) say they've shifted more of their spending online during the pandemic

52% of buyers say they’ve shifted more of their spending to online compared to earlier this year. For some, online purchases became the safer option—and their preferred choice—even as stores have reopened: 51% of those surveyed said they felt uncomfortable with in-store shopping during a pandemic.

📊 What our research shows:

  • In total, 83% of buyers said they made at least one online purchase during the first three months of the pandemic.
  • Of those, 60% said they shopped online more in that period versus the beginning of the year, and 6% did so for the first time ever.
  • 18- to 34-year-olds reported the biggest increase, with 68% of this group saying they spent more online during this period and 9% saying they were new to ecommerce.

Why it’s here to stay

81% of buyers said they planned to shop online through the end of 2020—roughly the same number of those who reported doing so during the pandemic. Even as many states and municipalities begin to reopen, shopping online remains the preferred option—and, with improved delivery and pickup options, the more convenient option, too.

The takeaway

Even if your online store was originally opened as a temporary measure to weather the shutdown, consider making it a permanent part of your strategy. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that a crisis provided the perfect sandbox in which to experiment with new sales channels and delivery options. How did you fare? What can you learn from customer feedback to improve your online experience?

40% of buyers said an easy-to-navigate website made their online shopping experience a positive one. For new businesses and retail-only businesses entering ecommerce for the first time, be sure that your online experience is optimized toward current buying habits. Earn buyer trust by sharing your story and making a great first impression with a professional, welcoming homepage. 

Within product pages, clear photos, accurate descriptions, and personalized shopping experiences—such as fit guides, tailored recommendations, and quizzes—can help customers make informed purchases when they can’t visit you in person.

💡 BFCM tip: No one knows exactly what Black Friday Cyber Monday will look like this year. But you can take decisive steps based on what you know about your business. If sales have already started shifting to your online store, now is a great time to forecast demand to ensure you’re ready to handle a larger number of orders. You can also start setting realistic expectations with customers around shipping and delivery times.

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2. Support for local and independent businesses

If a global pandemic has inspired anything positive, it’s a sense of togetherness. Communities everywhere have stepped up to close the social distance and provide support to the most vulnerable.

Data visualization depicting the stat: 57% of buyers seek out local, independently owned businesses to support

Another phenomenon is the increased support for small, local businesses that have been hit hard by lockdown restrictions. Of those who reported shopping locally, 79% said they did so to support their communities or protect local jobs.

64% of parents of school-aged children said they are likely to seek out independently owned businesses in their communities.

📊 What our research shows:

  • 46% of buyers in the US and Canada said they made purchases from local, independently owned businesses since the pandemic started.
  • Of that group, 34% reported doing this more often than they did pre-pandemic.
  • 57% said they specifically seek out local, independently owned businesses to support.
  • Parents of school-aged children are the most supportive demographic—64% said they are likely to seek out small businesses in their communities (vs. 54% among non-parents). 

Why it’s here to stay

61% of buyers said they plan to buy from local and independent retailers six months from now—significantly more than those who reported doing so in the first three months of the pandemic. That signals this trend is not only here to stay, it’s actually picking up steam.

Data visualization depicting the stat: 61% of buyers said they plan to buy from local and independent retailers six months from now

The takeaway

Buyers have a clear appetite for small, independent businesses with unique offerings and personalized customer service. Lean into these strengths in your communications: how is your shopping experience or product special?

66% of those surveyed indicated that they learned about local businesses through recommendations from friends/family.

But first, make sure local buyers can find you. 66% of those surveyed indicated that they learned about local businesses through recommendations from friends/family, while 37% cited social media as a source. For retail stores, attracting passerby traffic is key—42% of buyers said they find out about shops in their area by walking in their neighbourhood. 

📍 How to find and attract local buyers:

📍 Retail-specific tips:

  • Ensure street-facing signage is clear and attractive (and includes your COVID-19 safety precautions).
  • Join your local BIA to partner with other local businesses to pool resources on community-wide promotions or campaigns. 
  • Optimize local SEO for online maps, and keep your Google Maps listing updated to reflect current hours and information.
  • Incentivize reviews (on Google, Yelp, etc.).

💡 BFCM tip: If you plan to run a Black Friday Cyber Monday promotion in-store and anticipate increased traffic, rethink your COVID-19 plan. Do you need door security to maintain safe occupancy? What other measures can you add or increase to ensure a comfortable and safe experience for customers and staff?

3. Demand for curbside pickup

Curbside pickup has been a lifeline for countless businesses, from grocery stores to vet clinics. It offers many benefits to buyers, too, being a convenient way to get items same-day without stepping in-store or paying for rush shipping costs—something that’s especially helpful for single parents or those with mobility issues. These are just a few reasons why 40% of buyers selected curbside pickup for online purchases in the first three months of the pandemic. 

📊 Of buyers who used curbside pickup:

  • 31% said they did so for the first time between March and June.
  • 72% reported choosing it more often during this period compared to the start of the year.

Why it’s here to stay

Our research shows the demand for curbside pickup will likely remain steady through the end of 2020. About the same percentage of buyers who used curbside pickup at the onset of the pandemic (40%) plan to continue to use it going forward (38%). Outside of safety concerns, curbside pickup proves to offer convenience to many shoppers.

The takeaway

If a significant part of your customer base is already local, or you plan to attract more local customers in the future, consider offering curbside pickup as an option at checkout.

Data visualization that reads: How buyers say stores can improve curbside pickup: text message updates (29%), greater number of pickup times (29%), time between order and pickup to be faster (28%)

When we asked buyers what would improve their curbside pickup experience, here’s what they said:

  • 29% preferred text message updates to let them know when their orders are ready for pickup.
  • 29% said that a greater number of pickup times would improve their experience.
  • 28% preferred the time between order and pickup to be faster.
  • 23% said their experience would be improved with better signage at the pickup location and/or accurate and detailed pickup instructions on the website.

In short, ensure the experience is simple, efficient, and convenient. And communicate clearly through onsite signage and throughout every touchpoint (confirmation email, text message, etc.) to make the pickup experience seamless.

💡 BFCM tip: Consider your bandwidth for BFCM weekend: can you reasonably accommodate curbside pickup if you’re expecting an increase in order volume? Be realistic about your limitations, and don’t over-promise.

4. Appetite for local delivery

In lockstep with curbside pickup, local delivery has increased in popularity as an alternative to shipping or in-store shopping. With the reliability and delivery times of carriers impacted by the pandemic and political influences (in the US, specifically), many businesses have taken their own measures to get products in the hands of customers. This has been especially critical for items normally unfit for postal mail, like perishables. 

Data visualization depicting stat: 31% of buyers said they bought something online and had it delivered locally during the first three months of the pandemic / 33% will do so in the future

📊 What our research shows:

  • 31% of buyers said they bought something online and had it delivered locally during the first three months of the pandemic.
  • Of those, 19% did it for the first time ever, and 59% said they used this method more during the pandemic versus the beginning of 2020.

Why it’s here to stay

The local delivery trend shows no signs of slowing down, especially as major carriers in the US warn of package delays and service interruptions. And in many areas, in-person shopping still carries risk, further bolstering its popularity. In our survey, 33% of buyers predicted they’ll choose local delivery through the end of the year—the same percentage as those who say they have already used it.

The takeaway

As we’ve shown, the trend for supporting local business is not slowing—capture some of that energy by catering to these buyers’ current habits.

Setting up a local delivery option at checkout is simple, but it’s worth considering what logistical challenges you might face before you get started. What is your delivery schedule? What are your delivery borders? Do you need to hire additional staff to complete the drop-offs? Will you charge a fee for delivery?

Make these details clear to customers before they check out so they know exactly what to expect. When we asked buyers to weigh in on how businesses can improve the local delivery experience—and encourage them to choose it more often—they had a few clear preferences:

  • 62% mentioned free delivery as a differentiator. 
  • 36% wanted to see free returns offered.
  • 32% said they’d value faster delivery times.

💡 BFCM tip: Consider adapting your delivery schedule to accommodate the rush. Perhaps same-day or next-day delivery is an unrealistic expectation to set. Whatever you decide, be sure that your updated delivery timelines are communicated clearly to customers during multiple stages of the purchase.

5. Shift toward virtual experiences 

Data visualization depicting the stat: 14% of buyers purchased a digital version of something that would normally be done in person

Shutdowns and social distancing measures have arguably impacted service-based businesses the hardest. Gyms, salons, and art studios have had to scramble to jumpstart or improve their digital strategy and, in some cases, create new products from scratch. For example, yoga studios and cooking schools have creatively pivoted to video production in order to deliver virtual classes on demand. One Italian grandmother took her in-person cooking classes online after the pandemic wiped out tourism in her village.

Other businesses that relied on face-to-face interaction with customers have found digital ways to connect with customers through online consultations, AMAs, and events. When their plans for in-person events were put on hold in early 2020, beauty brand Then I Met You organized virtual meetups with customers around the world, hosted by founder Charlotte Cho.

📊 What our research shows:

  • 14% of buyers purchased a digital version of something that would normally be done in person.
  • Among the 18- to 35-year-old demographic, that number jumps to 27%.
  • The trend is clearly seeing an uptick: 63% of those who purchased digital experiences reported doing so more during the pandemic than at the start of the year.

Why it’s here to stay

Since consumers may not feel comfortable returning to “business as usual,” even as areas slowly reopen, the appetite for virtual experiences is likely to endure through the end of 2020. In fact, 14% of buyers say they will purchase virtual experiences in the future—the same number as those doing so now.

The takeaway

Digital versions of your product or service can broaden your potential customer base exponentially, as they aren’t bound to geographical or schedule restrictions. Digital products can also help to engage returning customers until you can safely open your doors again. 

Data visualization depicting stat: 37% of buyers say free online courses or educational content from a business would be relevant to them

Even if you’re not in the business of selling virtual experiences, you can still create digital content to help sell products, educate customers, and grow your community. 37% of buyers say free online courses or educational content from a business would be relevant to them. That number jumps to 57% among 18- to 34-year-olds.

💡 BFCM tip: Use increased BFCM visibility to launch or showcase your virtual experiences with discounts or free trials.

Pulling the future forward

None of us could have predicted what 2020 would bring. Though unexpected, the pandemic accelerated a shift in buying habits that was already happening, reinforcing our prediction that these consumer trends have staying power. Businesses that will survive a global pandemic are those willing to adapt to changing times—and meet buyers where they are.

Data in this article is based on research conducted by Shopify’s Market Insights team. Research data was collected via an online survey among US and Canadian consumers (n=1,000 US, n=500 Canada) from June 12–18, 2020. Fielding was conducted by Maru/Blue agency for Shopify. In this article, the terms “consumers,” “shoppers,” and “buyers” are used interchangeably and all refer to respondents surveyed in this research. “The first three months of the pandemic” refers to COVID-19’s impact in North America between mid-March 2020 and the start of the survey.

Research by Bianca Johnston
Feature image by Corneila Li
Data visualization by Valerio Pellegrini

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