DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to start a business selling body-care products. I have already made some creams and lotions and tested them at street fairs in my neighborhood.
I want to take it to the next level, and I understand that networking is essential. What are some ways that I can start meeting new people and getting my products out there? -- Becoming an Entrepreneur
DEAR BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR: Testing the market is good, and that’s what you have been doing in your neighborhood. You should know that many small businesses start in that way. In fact, the beauty company Carol’s Daughter was started by Lisa Price more than 20 years ago in her kitchen. She built her brand by first selling at street fairs and slowly making her way into stores. Ultimately, she got investors and sold to L’Oreal. The goal of an entrepreneur who gets financial backing is to sell and turn a profit. It happened for her, and, if you work hard and have a wise strategy, it may happen for you, too.
What can you do to get further along your path? First, make sure that your product line is replicable and unique. There are many beauty products on the market. Why do you think people should choose yours over the others that are already out there? You need to be able to answer that question clearly.
In terms of networking, join your local chamber of commerce. Contact the local office of the Small Business Administration to see what support is available for you as you grow. Find online sites where you can promote your product. Go to community board meetings and introduce yourself to local government and business leaders. Identify community bulletin boards online and elsewhere, and post dates and locations for your sales. As summer is approaching, sign up to sell your products at as many local fairs as possible. This is a smart first step for raising awareness.