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9 Tips I’ve Picked Up Starting My Own Biltong Brand

Here’s what I’ve learnt cultivating a business in a crowded market (which, upon closer inspection, isn’t so crowded after all!).

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Who doesn’t love biltong? The nation’s staple food bears the South African flag with pride and is sold all across the country, as well as overseas too. As an entrepreneur and business owner born in France, I relocated to South Africa five years ago – and instantly fell in love with South Africa’s signature snack.

That got me thinking: Was there room in the market to create a biltong experience unlike anything else available? I launched Biltong Board at the end of last year, offering carefully-packaged premium biltong delivered to your door every month. Then I expanded my product offering with a full online store to complement the subscription service and re-launched the website this September.

Here’s what I’ve learnt cultivating a business in a crowded market (which, upon closer inspection, isn’t so crowded after all!).

Related: How To Launch Your Business Like You Mean It

Don’t hold assumptions about the market

It’s easy to assume that any market you enter is over-saturated. But who’s to say it is?

I realised early on that I was filling a gap with Biltong Board; not necessarily a gap customers knew existed, but one they were willing to experiment with.

Biltong is sliced, packaged and sold en masse. I wanted to impart a sense of ceremony and offer flavours people hadn’t tasted before.

I set about creating a biltong experience: a box of delights with a specially-branded biltong knife to cut your organic meat with. The market responded in kind.

If your idea works, people will let you know.

Prototyping is good, but get it out there

It’s all well and good spending month after month organising your thoughts and putting plans in place, but nothing beats starting small and testing the market with a live product.

In developing the Biltong Board, I launched with a website and the core subscription first. I had recently sorted out my logistics process, sourced my suppliers and tentatively started developing a brand.

The full product range wasn’t yet in place (including biltong makers, cutters and branched merchandise) but that didn’t matter. I wanted to see if people shared my enthusiasm for the project.

Then, when orders started streaming in, I was safe in the knowledge I could expand – with a built-in customer base already in place.

If you’re selling a product online, make your website good

If you’ve entering into an online business model, your website is everything you have.

That means you need to spend time making sure it is user-friendly, appealing and intuitive.

Have a clear idea of the website vision in mind and don’t fall prey to gimmicky website builders that are foisted on you at additional cost.

There’s a reason website likes The New Yorker and eBay are built on WordPress: It works.

Related: 3 Ways To Take Your Business From Start-Up To Success

Don’t fall in love with your product

This is tough, but it bears remembering: for every entrepreneur that makes a success of their business there are 9 who are too invested in their idea and unwilling to recognise when it’s destined to fail.

Passion is great, but doggedly sticking by a labour of love clouds your judgement and makes you forget about the most important thing: the bottom line.

If your idea isn’t wowing the market, chances are it’s not the market at fault.

Be fussy with who you partner with

Biltong board subscription

In developing the Biltong Board, I have had a three-pronged game-plan in place: Champion a subscription service; sell products over my store and start selling Biltong Board in shops and markets.

To achieve this goal, I’ve talked to angel investors, farmers, logistics companies, packaging firms – you name it.

What I’ve learnt? Choose your partner(s) wisely, especially if it’s an investor.

A good partner is someone who understands your product and has a vested interest in making it succeed; who adds value by offering strengths in areas you lack. Don’t enter into business with people simply because they ask you to.

Don’t overspend

It’s easy to overspend when you’re starting out, especially when you’re building the backbone of the enterprise: from website to offices space and more, early start-ups cost money.

But be prepared to fight you corner. Work out deals that’ll help you save a buck and repay the favour further down the line if you need to.

That means keeping the business lean and avoiding the temptation to simply hire more staff. Make sure the business scales first.

Don’t be afraid to try new things

Coming from France, I was confident I could crack this distinctly South African produce, but I wasn’t sure people would respond to the idea of carefully-packaged food delivered to their door every month. The subscription model is big in Europe; less so here.

Still, that didn’t deter me from building the Biltong Board around the key idea that customers would enjoy a platform from which they could order biltong to their door every month.

I didn’t launch until my website was built and my ecommerce platform worked.

And now, several months later, I’m moving towards my own product line.

Just because a lot of people aren’t doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. As I’ve stressed, the market always responds.

Get inspired

Take inspiration from the businesses all over the globe that succeed every day. The business doesn’t even need to sell the same product, but perhaps they’ve got a handle on marketing, strategy or a savvy financial model that you could learn from.

As a business owner, you’re going to be wearing multiple hats and required to master skills that may not be your forte. Don’t be afraid to fish around and get ideas from other success stories.

You are not copying anyone – you are learning.

Detail is everything

Someone once said: “Branding is in the details.”

I agree.

When you’re building a brand, you’re conveying emotion and cultivating a reputation. You need to work harder than anyone else to stand out.

Every aspect of the product counts, from visual identity to one-on-one interaction with the customer. These are details that will define your brand and, with persistence, become value generators.

Maxime Eon is the founder of Biltong Board and Myctlife. He works actively as a marketing consultant for enterprises across the world, and is passionate about the food industry in South Africa. Eon was born in France and graduated from Staffordshire University (UK) with a BA in Business, before obtaining his master's in international business from Sup de Co La Rochelle (France). Shortly thereafter, Eon moved to South Africa with the idea of opening French bakeries, but settled on biltong instead, and began bringing his vision for a subscription biltong service to life. The Biltong Board has been running successfully since late 2015.

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Types of Businesses to Start

6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days

Jared Goetz spent only 30 minutes a day and built a colossal Shopify sales machine.

Entrepreneur

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Jared Goetz, serial entrepreneur and member of The Oracles, always had a knack for reaching an audience. At 26 years old, he’s co-founded four multimillion-dollar companies.

Whether he’s throwing the world’s largest foam party with fire breathers and circus acts (“Electric Flurry”) or selling inflatables to college students via viral campaigns (“Dumbo Lounge Sacks”), this serial entrepreneur knows how to turn an audience into a profit machine.

His latest venture, The Gadget Snob, is no different. An ecommerce store that supplies everything from jet-flamed pencils to laser keyboards, Goetz took his business from zero to $2 million in 60 days by plugging into the right audience. That’s no small feat in a competitive industry forecast to surpass $4 trillion in sales by 2020.

Goetz’s secret sauce to reaching the masses? Experimentation. As he explains, “You don’t know what people will respond to until you try a lot of things. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”

Related: Selling Online: Be On The Right Side Of The Law With Your Ecommerce Start-Up

Goetz shares six key components to building his million-dollar ecommerce store and turning profits in less than a business quarter.

1. Don’t reinvent the merchandise wheel

“Many owners think they have to reinvent the wheel with the merchandise they sell,” Goetz explained. Instead, he suggests focusing on products with a proven track record of success. “An easy way to spot a market trend is gauging how a product performs on social media. If an item is getting 10,000 Facebook Likes in less than a few hours, that’s a tell.”

When choosing merchandise, it’s also crucial to differentiate between commoditised and unique products. Commoditised products are widely available. Unique products are less accessible handmade or niche products that aren’t mass produced.

“If you go niche, gauge demand first. Observe what people are looking for. You might be surprised to see what’s selling.”

2. Create a formula, then rewrite it

Ecommerce comes down to a formula, Goetz says, and the outcome is affected by different variables: Product, advertisement, landing page optimisation, and customer lifetime value.

“Once you figure out what produces the best margin, copy that. Most who fail in ecommerce are 90 percent there but haven’t worked out all the variables in their formula,” Goetz shares.

For Goetz, a pivotal variable was drop shipping. “I spent a lot of time bootstrapping my earlier companies. Drop shipping was a game-changer because it allowed me to advertise before securing the inventory, yielding greater outcomes.”

3. Build a legit Shopify store

Shopify

A successful Shopify store must win confidence. “In the sometimes-fraudulent digital ecosystem, you have to earn a consumer’s trust,” Goetz says. “A money-back guarantee and free shipping guarantee are great places to start.”

Related: 5 Ecommerce Myths That Are Sabotaging People’s Businesses

Goetz also suggests choosing a theme that’s congruent with your industry. “With branding, you want to look professional, not spammy or creepy.” Gadgets are fun and technical, so his site has bright colours and precise language. “If I were running a men’s fashion store or toy store, I’d change my theme to match the merchandise and brand. Branding is key to converting customer views into sales.”

4. Find winning ads with huge ROI and scale

For Goetz, marketing comes down to one word: testing. “The only way to find out what works is to test it many times,” he says. “Test 10 audiences on each product, so you know where to invest your energy.” For The Gadget Snob, Goetz hired an ad manager to optimise Facebook campaigns. “When you strike gold with a successful ad, replicate it, but scale incrementally to ensure you’re staying targeted.” He suggests increasing ad spend 20 percent per day, not 500 percent.

When building campaigns, it’s also vital to use language that’s shareable and creative. Sales psychology is your friend. From his perspective, classic scarcity techniques have been around for centuries for a reason. “Try incorporating a quantity incentive: if you buy one, it’s full price; if you buy two, it’s 50 percent off and so forth.”

“Creating an email list is also vital. Email campaigns have a higher conversion rate than cold Facebook campaigns, and you can incentivise email campaigns with rewards. You can make money by merely pushing ‘send.’”

5. Hire a VA, then specialists

For Goetz, hiring a virtual assistant was essential to scaling. “At first, my VA helped with everything,” he says. Once his site got off the ground, Goetz hired people with specialised jobs for specific tasks.

Related: 5 Basics To Success When Starting An Ecommerce Business

He also stresses the importance of universal procedures. “Having clear onboarding processes and procedures is key to growth. Make your systems as easy as possible because while you might have 100 orders today, tomorrow you’ll have quadruple that.”

6. Get your customer support airtight

For a store to operate at full throttle, Goetz stresses the importance of customer support to maximise your profits. “You need your customer support to be airtight and available 24/7,” he says. “Online shopping goes all night and people place orders at all hours.”

To support questions and concerns, Goetz says that live chat and around-the-clock customer service is a must. “In our era of Amazon Prime, customer service expectations have never been higher, he says. “The last thing you want is a minute hiccup or technical goof obstructing a sale.”

Ultimately, ecommerce allows entrepreneurs to reach untapped markets and reap the rewards. As Goetz puts it: “My ecommerce site affords me ultimate freedom.” By following a few basic steps, you, too, can build a Shopify store to run from anywhere in the world, and perhaps even create your own million-dollar sales machine.

Related: 4 Methods For Building A Successful Ecommerce Brand

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Types of Businesses to Start

10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time

Find your perfect match for a successful part-time start-up.

Nadine Todd

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Start your part-time business today

Contents

  1. Public Relations
  2. Freelance Photography
  3. Corporate Videos
  4. Small Business Advertising Agency
  5. Writing, Editing and Proofreading Services
  6. Internet Marketing Consultant
  7. Web Design
  8. Tax Accountant
  9. Business Consultant
  10. Business Plan Consultant

Launching a company – even if it’s operated part-time – is all about drawing on your skills, talents and interests to create a viable business. What you know and what you’re good at form a good basis for a part-time business because these companies either become an extension of what you enjoy doing most or they are based on your strengths.

Working part-time while still maintaining a permanent job is time consuming and often exhausting, so choosing what you take pleasure in or are good at can keep you focused and motivated. The right fit is important when it comes to launching a part-time business. Selling a service rather than a product does not require large start-up costs, which means you can grow your business without financing until it becomes self-sustaining.

Are you looking for a business that you can launch in next to no time?

Read: 10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!

Corporate Communications & Promotions

Corporate communications covers a host of areas, mainly because this is the sector that takes care of how companies look to the outside world – something that is very definitely a service, but also that is not often taken care of in-house.

If you can write, edit, have a knack for advertising, can take photographs or create promotional and corporate videos, you can offer your services part-time to companies both large and small that are in need of these services.

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Types of Businesses to Start

10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!

Where do you find a good business idea? Right here. Here you’ll find several innovative business ideas that are ripe for plucking.

GG van Rooyen

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Where do you find a brilliant business idea?

It’s not as hard as it may seem at first. In fact, the idea is arguably not all that important. There’s a reason investors talk about backing the jockey and not the horse: It’s often not about the idea, but the execution.

A great entrepreneur can turn even a mediocre idea into a success; all that’s needed is a USP and great customer service.

That said, some ideas are undoubtedly better than others. And some businesses are easier to get off the ground. In the following pages you’ll find a curated list of business ideas that have reached a point where they’re just waiting to be exploited.

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