These are five steps to getting started and succeeding in a business. There is more to it than is shown here; but this gives you some basic things that you need to get started with: The basics
Step one: the basics:
For most business people, the least fun parts of starting a new business is dealing with legal and accounting side of things. Maybe this is something that you hate; or maybe this is what you enjoy the most. Either way, to deal with all of the details that go along with this part of setting up a business would take more space than we can devote in this website. This section is intended to get you started, and let you know some of the basic things that you need to accomplish to get started.
There are a many legal and accounting tasks that need to be completed when you start a business with employees. If you don't need employees, you can avoid a lot of extra work of this kind. This article assumes that you are not hiring anybody to begin with, and tells you only the basics that you need to get started on your own.
You need a sales tax number from the state you live or operate in. You can get this from your state department of revenue. If you don't know where they are, you can find out by visiting http://www.taxsites.com/state.html. Call your own State office for whatever forms they say you need, fill them out and send them in. Otherwise you may be charged sales tax on items that you are re-selling and are not required to pay sales tax on otherwise.
In some states a license is required for you to do business. When you call the department of revenue for your sales tax number they should be able to give you that information as well.
There are usually other things that you may want to call an accountant or attorney for. More likely though, you will want to call your accountant or attorney to get their personal advice for you.
Step 2: Know the product
You don't need to be an expert on African artwork or culture to succeed in marketing these products (although more of this kind of knowledge will help a lot). What you need most of all is a knowledge of why people buy your products; and what features of the products will appeal to the audience you are trying to reach. You need to know the answers to the questions that they have about the products (whether they are asking them or not). And you need to know the objections to the products that will come up so that you have an answer to those objections. It is easier to teach a salesperson about products than it is to teach a person with product knowledge about sales.
There is a tremendous amount of product information on our website at africaimports.com and we try to keep you provided with whatever information we can to help you with this.
Your best teacher for this is experience. You can get your experience easiest and best from talking (and better, by listening) to other people who are interested in the products. People don't expect you to be especially knowledgeable about African products: just honest and sincere. Ask as many questions as you can. Think of your best questions to ask before you see people. By finding out what different people like or dislike; what kinds of problems they have had (and good things they have experienced) with African products. You will learn more things that you need to know that help the people you are working with this way.
When you think about the things that you buy, you normally buy things when you see some benefit for yourself. By knowing the benefits that different people see in your product, you can show them more benefits; sell more; and make more money. Think regularly about the things people like about the products you are showing. Think about the positive reactions that customers have told you about; and the ways you can fit these stories and bits of information into your conversations with your customers.
There are a number of specific questions that come up on individual products. You do not need to know as much about drums as someone who plays and works with them all the time. You can learn the answers to most of these questions as you talk to more people; and read some of the information provided on our website.
If you still need more help, and you don't know an answer that you need after you have already checked our website, you can call us. If we don't have the answer either, we will try to find someone else who does. But all of this knowledge comes primarily from just going out and working with it. You don't need to know a lot to get started; but you need to be asking questions and learning as you go in order to serve people best; and to have them wanting to buy from you.
Step 3. Know the customer
Knowing what your customer wants and doesn't want in something. Knowing how much they will spend. These are things that I can try to tell you; but there is no better way than to spend time with your customers yourself. You can find customers on the internet; at festivals and special events; and probably right next door to wherever you are right now. A few things that people ask us about regularly are the culture and meaning behind some of the products that we carry.
To gain as much knowledge as possible, just start talking to anyone you can about these products. Ask them what they think of them; ask them how they think you would do best; ask them what they like or dislike most about the different items offered. As you do this, you will gain a tremendous asset that can help you produce extra income whenever you use it.
Step 4. Have a plan.
I used to hear this all the time: "plan your work and work your plan" this is certainly a great saying to keep in your thoughts; and can be very powerful in increasing financial or career success. Coming up with the winning game plan though is a lot more difficult.
The standard way to build a marketing plan is to look at the market for what you sell; look at the other people who are selling the same sorts of things that you do; find people who are not served well by the other companies for some reason; and come up with the best way to reach these people in a way that is better for them. This may mean opening a store close to where these people live or work. It may mean providing people with products that they can't get easily or inexpensively somewhere else. It might also mean that you give them more help or personal service, or just make them feel a little bit more special than anywhere else.
What one person succeeds marvelously at, the next person fails at. The plan that works for this person who failed before, may never work at all for the other person who succeeded. What I have succeeded in before, many others failed at. And what many others have succeeded at; I failed in when I tried. Because we are all so different, we will each end up with a slightly different program for success.
This may sound like no formula at all; but the idea behind it is to come up with the things that excite you the most. Your excitement (or perhaps desperation) then motivates you to use all of your mental and emotional energy to come up with ways to be successful at the precise method that you chose. You then improve small parts of this process along the way until you have a system that is better than anyone else's for what you are doing.
So how do you come up with this formula? For most people, the best way is by just jumping in and getting started. The best way to learn to home repairs is by doing home repairs. The best way to learn a business, is by working in the business. Work at different methods that you either find here, or come up with on your own. When you break even (or even come close to breaking even) know that you will probably improve your system a lot over time. A system that may not be making much money now, can be adjusted in many minor ways and turn into a very profitable plan. To learn everything before you start may be possible; but if you wait for everything to be perfect, you may end up being really old before you are ready to start. In the mean time, you could have learned a whole bunch by working at your business, that you would not have learned so well by studying for a very long time.
Step 5. Work your plan.
You definitely get paid for seniority in this type of business: that is if you are working consistently and competently. Just like you shop at stores, and buy from or hire people that you know to be reliable. Others bring their business to you as they find out the same things about you. People will start with smaller orders before they make larger ones. People will need to see you do well with them a few times before they send others to you.
Constantly look for ways to improve your system of connecting with buyers of these products; but keep in front of your customers as well. As you keep doing the things that you find work best, those things will continue to work better and better. As time goes on, your time is spent less in any kind of selling; and more in processing orders and staying connected.
As you reach this point, producing your profits becomes much more mechanical. You can hire others to help you process orders and deal with any established customers; leaving yourself free for expanding the number of people that you can be working with. You end up with a lot of friendships; as well as the extra money that you probably got into this for in the first place.
If you want to talk about any of this further, you can contact us any time at all. Email us anytime at: [email protected] , and feel free to phone us if it is better for you. You can call our office toll free at 800-500-6120: We are open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm M-F; and from 9:00 - 5:00 Saturday.
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You can save over half on your initial purchases this way. But, whatever you do, don't stop now. Get yourself off the ground by doing some of the things that you have learned here. If you put things like this off until later, you will still be in the same place; without any progress; until then...or maybe later still. Start Right Now.