==About The Podcast==

Welcome to the Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS Podcast. Each episode of the podcast dives into challenges faced by home-based small-businesses and realistic solutions based on my own experiences.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, lawyer, or finance professional, therefore, this content should not be taken as medical, financial, or legal advice. You will not hold Andrea Marah and/or Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS, LLC. responsible for any actions you take based on information presented. Do your research folks!

 

Episode #1

➡️ Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS Podcast Season 1, Episode 1 ©2021 Andrea Marah 12/20/2021

🔊 Listen here: https://youtu.be/BSNhZemS2bw

Hey there--its our very first episode!

If you are starting a small business from your home with only you as staff, you don’t need everything an established business needs right away. Sometimes listening to all the noise on social media and blogs will have your head spinning and your pockets empty. Let's sort through some of the popular advice from industry powerhouses and get your business going with a little less stress. Now, these are my opinions based on my experience so I definitely recommend baby steps, research, and lots of chats with finance and law professionals.

Three impractical things business gurus tell you that you absolutely need, but you really don't initially in a home-based, small-scale business (at least not initially).

  1. 5 Business accounts — you only need a general expense/operating, taxes, and optionally an emergency account. In the beginning, your finances will be limited so don’t spread your resources too thin. I am not an accountant so definitely talk to a CPA for what works best for your business.
  2. An info@yourbusiness.com email address — yes this can help your emails not be routed to spam but if your customers signed up for your emails they will be expecting them. A simple Gmail account should suffice.
  3. An LLC Business entity — this is 100% your choice. An LLC or similar model does offer some legal protections but You can operate just fine with a DBA initially and then transition into whatever model works best for you. But definitely consult a small business lawyer or accountant for their professional advice.

The gurus are not all wrong. There's three things those gurus are 100% right about.

  1. Have your own website — even if you are on Etsy or Amazon, Keep in mind that Etsy and Amazon may be great places to start out if you don’t have a customer base is place and you will get organic traffic but competition is stiff and customers can easily be lured away. have a site where you can direct customers in case you no longer have access to those sites. Get customers used to going there—post blogs, discount codes, or giveaways. You cannot be banned or censored on your own website. Even if your products are hosted on the other sites—have those links on your own website with your own custom domain name.
  2. Start an email or text marketing list—you don’t own access to any of your social media customers.
  3. Customer testimonials help sell your products—written testimonies from customers are great but there’s nothin like before and after photos or photos of customers posing with or using your products as social proof that really help them visualize using your product themselves.

A great resource to refer to when researching startup steps for your particular business idea is the Small-Business Administration. 

15 Worst pieces of Business Advice:

  1. There’s a market for everything.
  2. Fake it until you make it.
  3. Follow your passion and money will follow.
  4. If you build it, they will come.
  5. The customer is always right.
  6. Never turn down a paying customer.
  7. It’s all about who you know.
  8. Stick to your plan (no matter what).
  9. Keep your business and personal life separate.
  10. All attention is good attention.
  11. Offer the lowest prices.
  12. Never say no.
  13. You have to spend money to make money.
  14. Never stop working.
  15. Give up.

Sources:

Join the conversation!

Peace and blessings--be SCENTsational!

 

 

Episode #2

➡️ Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS Podcast Season 1, Episode 2 ©2022 Andrea Marah 01/03/2022

🔊 Listen here: https://youtu.be/w3tckXipg9Q 

Hey there--we are back with episode two!

This episode really hits home for me. 2020 and 2021 have been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. At the same time, these last two years have been booming years for online businesses. But, did I take advantage of this boom in online traffic? Has my business increased in sales and consistency? Have I marketed my business to capture and capitalize on this increase in traffic? Honesty, no. This episode serves as a means of confession of how not having a strategy or marketing plan in place has affected my growth and mindset. My business has still grown but not nearly as much as it could have. 

So first let’s define “marketing”. Wikipedia explains that marketing is the “intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and services” through various means. The 7 P’s of Marketing from Assemblo.com further break the components of marketing in a sort of checklist: product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence. Now having a clearer understanding of marketing, how exactly did having no strategy at all affect my business growth and bottom line.

Three ways my business has been affected by a lack of strategy: 

  1. Sales are inconsistent. Sales have increased but again not with steady numbers from month to month. At one point, I even shut my site down for a few months due to some personal issues and I lost a LOT of the momentum both sales- and traffic-wise that I had gained during 2020 and early 2021.
  2. Too much down time between orders. There were fewer opportunities for face-to-face events which reduced my presence locally and opportunities for sales. 
  3. Relying more on return customers because of the lack of organic traffic from new customers. 

But 2021 was NOT a failure—it was a learning experience that will direct my future marketing endeavors.

Solutions— So this new year my focus is on better marketing and I brainstormed a few ideas that I can realistically implement.

  1. Be more active on my social media— it’s an electronic billboard that should change periodically to attract customers. 
  2. Interacting more with my audience via YouTube and a few other projects in the works.
  3. Be more active with my email list.
  4. More shows and events since things are opening up more.
  5. Build more hype for product launches and better planning overall.
  6. Expanding to Etsy.

Sources:

Additional Reading:

Join the conversation!

Peace and blessings--be SCENTsational!

 

Episode #3

➡️ Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS Podcast Season 1, Episode 3 ©2022 Andrea Marah 02/11/2022

🔊 Listen here: https://youtu.be/TcHu7BG1N6Y

Hey there—it’s Season 1, Episode 3!

Does your business need a website? Will a website affect your profits? YES! With the massive recent shift to virtual offices, classrooms, markets, and other spaces, it is essential for your business to have a website to compete post pandemic.

BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE PRESENCE FOR YOUR BUSINESS

According to an article by Gregor Saita from https://pixolabo.com, up to 36% of small businesses do not have a website at all. 17% of small businesses do not have a mobile-friendly website. In the section titled “The Basics”, 3 key takeaways are: 

  1. If you have a website, it needs to be eye-catching.
  2. It needs to be fast.
  3. It needs to be mobile-friendly.

The “E-Commerce” section has interesting stats relevant for product-based home businesses. “Small businesses cite cost (26%), irrelevance to industry (27%), and social media (21%) as key reasons behind their decision not to have a website.”

With so many platforms that offer a free website, there is no reason not to have something to refer customers to purchase products, or even book appointments. For me, the biggest thing is that my website allows customers to find what they need easily and on their own schedule, even while I sleep. The majority of my order alerts happen overnight long after I’ve gone to bed, on vacation and on the weekends when I don’t work, or even when I’m tending to other business during the day.

ETSY VERSUS MY OWN WEBSITE?

Etsy (and other similar handmade marketplaces of which Etsy is by far the most popular)

Pros:

  1. They offer marketing—and access to a large potential customer base.
  2. Best if you do not have an established customer base and you may not be sure how to get customers to visit a site of your own.
  3. You can get organic traffic and sales with minimal effort.
  4. Easy to start up and basic tools and user interface.

Cons:

  1. Cost per listing.
  2. No control to customize your shop.
  3. You're in competition with hundreds of other similar products.
  4. Reduced customer loyalty.

Your own website

Pros:

  1. You own the domain.
  2. No competition.
  3. Completely customizable.
  4. You own access to your customers.

Cons:

  1. You must drive 100% of your own traffic.
  2. Much harder for customers to “stumble upon” you.
  3. Can be expensive until you build your customer base unless you choose a FREE site option.

Can’t decide? Try both. Use your Etsy shop to direct returning customers to your own site by offering a discount, deals, or products on your website not offered on Etsy.

Should you hire someone or just DIY it? This is 100% up to your abilities and motivations.

 

WHAT ABOUT ME? 

Here are the top elements I needed from my own platform:

  1. An ecommerce website that could grow with my business.
  2. Multiple apps that can integrate into my shop.
  3. A POS system directly linked to my shop’s inventory.
  4. Integration with a Facebook pixel.
  5. I can directly print shipping labels (at a discount)
  6. I can easily enable sales tax and get basic reports.

Even if you start to DIY on an ecommerce platform and get really stuck you can still contact a designer or developer to finish.

COUNTDOWN OF ANDREA MARAH’S TOP 3 TIPS TO BUILDING YOUR WEBSITE

Number 3 – Your first website design does not have to be perfect, it simply has to be functional.

Number 2 – Make navigation simple.

My number one tip–the secret to my success in building my website is recon. Study how large companies design and organize their websites. Find other small business owners in a similar industry and see how they organize their own sites. The key is to use this as INSPIRATION ONLY—do not copy. 

Sources:

Join the conversation!

Peace and blessings--be SCENTsational!

 

Episode #4

➡️ Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS Podcast Season 1, Episode 4 ©2022 Andrea Marah 02/20/2022

🔊 Listen here: https://youtu.be/STW8F2cr-J8 

Hey there—it’s Season 1, Episode 4!

The events that have culminated over the past couple of years have inspired a lot of people to get a side hustle or main hustle to keep busy or earn money to live on. So the question comes up, what do I need to start my business now? Now depending where you live this list may need to be longer or shorter but according to my research and experience,these are the most basic elements I recommend that you put in place to sell legally and with a level of professionalism. 

Before I go over my tips to QuickStart a business of your own in this new year, let’s go over a few statistics.

SMALL-BUSINESS STATISTICS OVERVIEW

According to the Census Bureau, more than 4.4 million new businesses were created in the U.S. during 2020 — the highest total on record. For reference, that's a 24.3% increase from 2019 and 51.0% higher than the 2010-19 average. Revealed in an article from https://www.salesforce.com

https://www.bizjournals.com explains that there are four distinct types of people who have their own businesses: 

  1. Passionate creators
  2. Freedom seekers
  3. Legacy builders
  4. Struggling survivors

FAST MONEY OR NAH?

Building a business requires a lot of time, patience, and money and not for those seeking “quick money”.

POPULAR INDUSTRY STATS

  • The global soap market size was USD 34.09 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 55.29 billion by 2027,  https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com 
  • Cosmetics industry worth $511 B https://dealsonhealth.net/
  • The global artificial nails market is expected to grow by 4.5% from 2019 to 2024, excellent news from anyone wishing to break into the nail design and polish market.  https://dealsonhealth.net
  • Considering how everyone of these industries is expected to grow, there is definitely a large enough market and consumer base. But also more than enough competition.

LIFE EXPECTANCY OF SMALL-BUSINESSES

According to statistics published in 2019 by the Small Business Administration (SBA), about twenty percent of business startups fail in the first year. About half succumb to business failure within five years. By year 10, only about 33% survive. https://www.zenbusiness.com

Okay, so we are finally ready to dive into my list of tips to Quickstart your soap business, handmade business, or really any business in 2022. Disclaimer: do not confuse “quick” start with “easy” start. Completing the startup steps are the first steps to showing your commitment to this new business venture.

A tested product (something to sell). Maybe its something you make that you have been using for years. All you would need to do is make a larger batch for customers. Ideas of DIY products to make and sell online can be found on https://www.shopify.com. Creatively combining a couple of these ideas can be good as well.

A market for your product or service (to make sure you have customers) We saw from the data presented earlier that the soaps and cosmetics industry is only expected to grow over the next several years. But your key to success will be to find a niche where people will notice your product/where your product can stand out

Decent packaging (a way to distribute your product in consistent amounts) I highly recommend making your labels FDA compliant before distributing to the general public. If testing or gifting your products among family and friends, at the very least have a label with the product name, an ingredients list, and a way to contact you to reup.

A business bank account (a separate place to deposit your business money and connect accounts related to your business) this helps protect your personal finances from a plethora of situations that may arise.

A website (so customers can learn more about you and see what you have to offer) either your own site, a landing page, or a shop on a site like Etsy even if you only want to sell at markets and don't actually sell on the site.

Card reader for accepting payment face-to face either at events or during delivery or just have card payments set up on your website; many new business owners want a cash only business model (customers have been shown to spend more when they have a card option).

Business cards (to pass on your info quickly to potential customers) there’s nothing more annoying than trying to find a pen and paper to write down your info for multiple people.

Text/email list (so you can keep in contact with your customers) you can use social media but don’t depend on it as your sole source of communication.

Set up a business entity (LLC, DBA, etc) — this allows you to be taxed properly and can enable you to collect sales tax.

Register to collect state and county sales tax if applicable. Talk to a local accountant. Some events require you to be able to collect sales tax on your sales.

Local permits (to keep things legal) can be the most intimidating part—because you are making your commitment official. Research your local and state laws and find out what permits and minimum requirements you need to start selling locally.

BUILD ON THE FOUNDATION

Components to add as you grow and why.

  • More product testing—make sure your products are the best and stay the best.
  • Better packaging with branding for your business—your business will start to develop a personality and your branding will reflect this.
  • Business plan—sba.gov has a lot of tools for entrepreneurs to build a solid business plan. Its also something your local business center can help you develop as well.
  • Insurance (your renters or homeowners insurance may not provide sufficient if any coverage in case of anything going wrong such as theft, flood damage, fire, lawsuit,  etc) if you want to recoup your losses this will help you to start over.
  • Trademark protect your intellectual property such as your business name or unique product name
  • Register with the local chamber of commerce (get your name out in the community and network)
  • Post office box
  • An accountant
  • A business lawyer
  • Social media (so customers can see what you are up to)
  • Email address
  • Wholesale or Consignment

The key to quick starting your business is to make sure you add in these other components later. Making your plans with an accountant and/or small business lawyer will definitely give you the most dependable (and legal) information for your state, province, or country. Make a list of everything you need. Number them to help you prioritize and check tasks off as you accomplish them. And if you are considering opening an Etsy shop, check the description box for my referral link and you can get 40 free listings to set up your brand new shop!

 

Sources:

Join the conversation!

Peace and blessings--be SCENTsational!

 

Episode #5

➡️ Myrrh & FrankinSCENTS Podcast Season 1, Episode 5 ©2022 Andrea Marah 03/25/2022

🔊 Listen here: https://youtu.be/n_xGEpVa3tY 

Hey there—it’s Season 1, Episode 5!

Imagine, you just revealed to a friend or family member you want to start a lipstick brand. In a perhaps misguided attempt to save you a lot of heartache they utter the words: “the market is saturated, there’s too many people making [insert your product type here]”. That single interaction makes imagining yourself as a business owner more and more impossible.

Are they correct–is the bath & body industry oversaturated?

To answer the question. Absolutely not and I’ll tell you why!

But first, let’s define why people seem to think the market is saturated.

  1. On the surface, companies have the same product lines (bar soaps, bath bombs, soap cupcakes, same scents, same color schemes.
  2. There are a lot of lookalike and knockoff products. from candles to bar soap.
  3. Everyone is targeting the same exact customer base.

But this should not be enough to deter you from your dream. Here is why the market is NOT as saturated as people think and there is room for you and your new business.

  1. There are ways to make your brand stand out from the rest. You are only limited by your creativity.
  2. Indie brands have been gaining popularity lately. People love supporting smaller brands in their communities and online.
  3. The bath soap industry alone is growing yearly with a projected value of over $24 billion by 2024 which is an increase of 5.1%! Some of that is us!

Now let’s talk about How YOU can inject YOUR business into the market RIGHT NOW.

  1. The BIG ONE — Have a plan. The key is to find an ideal customer group that is not being targeted or a specific niche not being targeted and MARKET MARKET MARKET. How will you do that? Here are four parts your plan needs: (1) Know exactly who you want to sell to; (2) Know what types of things they like and what appeals to them; (3) Make your product irresistible to that specific group. I once saw a quote that read “don’t sell a mattress—sell a good night’s sleep”; (4) Decide if you want your brand to be economy or high-end luxury goods. This will also determine who your customer will ultimately be. 

Word of caution: If you don’t take the time to plan your strategy you end up with a lot of products that either aren’t selling, take a long time to sell, or end up being thrown out. Trust me in this.

  1. Don’t be afraid to adapt your product to a better potential customer base. Expand or adapt your line to meet customer desires or needs.
  2. Create a custom order brand or product. As a customer or client, There is no satisfaction like knowing you have something no one else does or the item you have was custom made for your unique body type or shade—sell THAT to your customers.
  3. Quirky, funny product names or themes. One-of-a-kind packaging. Something that sets your business apart from the competition but won’t introduce too much creative strain.

Remember, no matter how you choose to approach building your brand. People don’t buy products, they buy you. Give your customers something or someone to fall in love with and develop a relationship they want to support.

When you are starting your business journey or even if you have a few years under your belt, opportunities for self doubt will be a mainstay and will crop up again and again. So in true M&F podcast fashion let’s dive into the following article from FORBES detailing their 10 tips to overcoming self doubt (see article linked below).

In conclusion, the market is only saturated if you can’t convince your potential customers that you have something no other brand has and develop a loyal following. Once you start building your customer base, Maintain a level of professionalism and personalism with customers that makes them feel appreciated and over time they may come back and might even refer your brand to friends. So be encouraged. There is more than enough space and a special place is the small business world for your business and mine. Just start with just one product and see how it goes from there.

Do you believe the bath and body market is indeed an over done industry or do you believe there is still room for everyone to bring their unique twist to the soap and cosmetics world? 

Sources:

Join the conversation!

Peace and blessings--be SCENTsational!

 

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