Coming soon…20 steps to starting a direct to consumer business

A New Year -the ideal time to start your ‘direct to consumer’ business – what you need to know in 20 blogs.

Well here we are at the end of the year and what have you done? How about getting that business idea you have up and running in 2011? Read on….

I remember years ago when I was an employee, I just couldn’t imagine how on earth anyone could start a business and get going. There was so much that I didn’t know about and when I eventually did have to get on and start a company, because I was no longer needed by my employer, I had to learn by making mistakes, how do do it.

I have been asked for years to write down how to get started in selling something direct to the consumer, so now I have done it. In January, starting from 6th, I will produce a blog each working day until I have it all down. The focus will be on how to start a business selling direct to consumers at events and then how to build a customer base. The same principles apply for an online business too.

Once the Startup blogs are published, I will then have a go at all the new ways to start a business on the Internet. I will report back on how I am progressing, what has worked and what has not and what I did about it. I am especially interested in trying out ideas that all the blurb that goes with it says they are ‘really easy to do’.

So, the objective of the forthcoming blogs is to provide you with some stepping stones, based on years of experience, in all the areas I will discuss. This is not just the same old stuff from textbooks, churned out by yet another wannabe businessman – I have created liqueurs, marketed, sold them and developed a mail order business, on and off line, so it’s all real. I will detail too, all the horrendous mistakes I made on the way, so you can avoid them, save time and money and get to your planned end point quicker and with less hassle.

For the up and coming blogs, you will be able to discover:

  • How to plan your new business
  • Routes to market
  • Building a customer base
  • Setting up a mail order system
  • Events – choosing the right ones for you
  • Setting up your stall – what goes where
  • Talking to customers – which words work best
  • Your year ahead plan and handling doubts
  • Selling or supplying – which is more profitable
  • Persuasive words and closing the sale
  • Things not do do in front of any customer
  • Deciding what to sell and why
  • Confidence boosting measures that work

That’s just some idea of what the blogs will cover and I’ll add more content as they go along too, depending on comments during the process.

So have a good New Year, write down some ideas for 2011 and look out for the first blog of the series starting on January 6th. All the best, Roy Lewis

YouTube video uploaded at last

YouTube video now loaded and working – hebridean whisky liqueur
Mail order ‘Free delivery’ option planned for 2011

What an effort that took. After hours of wrangling with YouTube and Google login pages, managed to not only upload my first video, but also add a title so that it can be found.

Making the video was really embarrassing-viewing it is even worse, for me anyway. If you want a good laugh, just go to YouTube and key in this:

hebridean whisky liqueur

This should take you to my video where you will see a half starved looking man, dressed in warm outdoor clothes while indoors, describing the joys of Hebridean Whisky Liqueur and doing so really badly. Hollywood has certainly not missed any opportunities with me. Perhaps I will get better with practice.

Once I had loaded up the video, I have to choose what category I wanted it listed under – Entertainment or Education? You can be the judge of that.

I will be doing other videos and will let you know when they are up on YouTube. I found the whole process of getting it uploaded fine the second time round. Like many other sites, YouTube assume that you are familiar with their site so don’t appear to explain things very well. This means that it is hard to work out what to do and what they mean by all their special terms.

Facebook, on the other hand, is still complicated , but their explanations are better and on the whole, quite helpful.

On the Internet Exploration front, I have set up a new Domain to tie in with the YouTube persona I have-before anyone else did so. It is:

There is nothing on it right now, but I am going to use the set up of this new site as an example of how to do it right from the start. I am not a computer person so I will be able to write a blog telling you what works, what doesn’t, what I think has been helpful etc, and I will be building up a toolbox of sites and programs that I have used to make things work. I will only recommend something that I have actually used. Now there’s a novel idea.

On the liqueur mail order front, nearly all our deliveries have been made and still a few orders trickling in. The ‘Free delivery’ option I tried seemed to be a real hit and when all our prices are revamped with VAT going up to 20% in January, I plan to have free delivery as an option or at least as a special from time to time.

Minus 10 here tonight but went for a lovely walk up a nearby hill this afternoon with my two children. Everything iced up – brought back a 15 inch long icicle from a stream (it didn’t melt, even in the car) and at the end of the walk, stood under a group of massive trees and listened to the ice fragments breaking off the branches and falling over us.

More stuff next week-have a good Christmas wherever you are-all the best-Roy Lewis

Recovering from being snowbound

Big companies fail to deliver the goods. I deliver myself as I can’t let my customers down.

Well, what a muddle the transport system here has got into. Found most of our shipments to customers, apart from the one sent via a massive company, whose 20,000 employees or whatever they have, appeared unable to advise me that they had lost my consignment Рand still have not found it nearly 2 weeks after a 1-day service was booked. Makes  me think of the maxim of not running away from problems and admitting mistakes. Funny that our biggest supplier is most guilty of both of these traits.

Last week was fraught indeed – I ended up driving stock down to one of my Licensees at a consumer show in the centre of Newcastle, as the Courier used couldn’t even make it to the warehouses. Given that I had more to lose than they, did, I managed not only to collect from two unreachable warehouses but travelled through Scotland to Newcastle, and then on to The Lake District for anther delivery. In commercial terms it might not really make sense, but I couldn’t let my customers down when I knew I could sort it out myself.

Pity my suppliers didn’t have the same view.

What would you have done? I’d like to know your opinion.

On the Internet front, all I have manged to do is get used to looking at Keyword Spy and Google Trends. It is amazing to have these tools available and mostly for free – these type of products are usually in two forms – a free standard one and a version with more features that you pay for. I use ‘Log Me In’ for remote PC access. I am actually using it now while writing this on a Netbook PC logged on to my home PC located in my office. The Log Me In program I use includes remote printing, which is what I want and pay for. The standard version doesn’t have this feature and is free. For me, the extra functionality is worth the cost of @ $40 per annum.

More fun and games next week – keep warm – all the best.

Roy Lewis

One didn’t work but another did…….progress of sorts

Update from last week. My ‘exciting’ YouTube video did not in the end, load after all, so I am going to have another go at it and when I work out the way to do it, I will do a blog on it so you too can YouTube, as it were.

What has worked and took hardly any time, was to put an advert up on Face-book. Took me a while to work out how to do everything, but the instructions do appear to match up with the options. I ended up putting on an advert on a ‘Gifts for him’ headline and choose our Nelson liqueur. The only real snag is that when you upload a picture, it gets squashed so the Nelson 50cl bottle looks a bit odd. For the first time, I inserted a link to the actual Nelson ordering page on my site-let’s see if it gets approved and then the outcome. It is amazing to choose the age and interest profile for your potential customers for adverts-no wonder the traditional media are having a hard time of it.

Uk still in the grip of people unable to get backlogs of orders sorted due to an odd combination of schools off (stuck with kids all day), very icy roads (and they are), piles of snow gumming up smaller roads (which is the case here) and general paralysis of the entire transport system, including the petrol tankers who can’t get to the refineries etc. All this means that than instead of our Courier collecting our orders, I am delivering them to the Courier and some bigger orders,¬† am driving down to England tomorrow to deliver it myself as the Show Distributor is at a show and is running out of our liqueurs.

With luck, by next week, things will have calmed down and I will be able to move ahead on several exciting fronts-I will announce what next week.

All the best.

Roy Lewis