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Category: Small Business Tips, Twitter & Marketing

  1. Things I've Learnt from Running My Own Shop Business (the things no one tells you)

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    Things I've Learnt from Running My Own Shop Business (the things no one tells you)

    When a lot of people think of Lylia Rose, they think of an online fashion boutique and not a blog.  This is because Lylia Rose started as exactly that.  In the beginning my website was an ecommerce store with a blog on the side.  Now it has switched.  Lylia Rose is now a UK lifestyle blog with a small shop on the side.  Before discovering my passion for blogging, my passion was in ecommerce.  I’d spent several years working as an Ecommerce Order Fulfilment Manager for a popular clothing label.  It seemed only natural for me to set up my own online store as I had such a passion for online selling. 

    I never researched the market and just took the plunge when I was on maternity with my daughter.  What started as making and selling cards on Etsy, evolved into a fashion accessories website of my own.  I never had a business plan or an aim.  It all just kind of happened.  I secretly hoped I could make lots of money from it, but realistically I knew it was just something smaller on the side and a hobby if anything at all.  It’s now a small side hustle of mine and after considering closing my store, I have decided to continue with my little shop with a much smaller selection of goods as blogging is now my main focus.

    Here are a few (honest) things I learnt from running my own shop business:

    Things I Learnt from Running My Own Shop Business (the things no one tells

    (Your new best friend when you run an online shop from home)

    Everyone is doing it

    Yes, really.  Everyone is doing it.  When I started I didn’t realise quite how many people were trying to do exactly the same thing as me.  As soon as I started networking on Facebook and Twitter back in 2012-2013 I quickly realised every man and his wife was trying to set up their own business selling something, or at least every mum on maternity leave!  This meant my idea was not unique and it was easy to be lost amongst the waves of other people selling the same or similar items.  Unless I had a very unique selling point I really wasn’t that different to anyone else.

    There is a positive though – I was able to virtually meet and network with so many wonderful likeminded folk on a daily basis, sharing the highs and lows of trying to set up our own businesses as busy mums.

    Outgoings can be a killer

    After 3000 orders in 3 years (taking off my maternity leave) I’ve learnt quite a bit!  I’ve learnt that outgoings for a small ecommerce business selling low value items really can be a killer.  With the majority of my items selling at around £5, there really isn’t much profit to be made.  Take away the cost of the item, the packaging, the postage, the eBay fees, the PayPal fees, the advertising costs and there’s really only pence left.  It’s much better to be selling a higher value item, especially if selling on eBay.  Be savvy with your postage too.  There can be huge differences in postage costs between companies.  Use Parcel2Go to find the best deal for your package.

    They won’t come

    ‘Build it and they will come’ is perhaps the most useless saying I have ever heard.  No, they won’t come.  You have to get out there and sell, sell, sell!  Interact, engage, build a community and fan base, talk to your customers, network with likeminded businesses, promote on social media, and build your email list.  Just because you build a website, it doesn’t mean they will come. 

    I naively thought as soon as I built my website, I would be found on Google and the customers would be flocking over to purchase my wares, but not so.  After a few days of no website visitors I realised I had to get out there and market myself to the max.

    I only had daily sales when I was promoting my shop all day long on Twitter (or Facebook in the beginning).  Plus I took part in up to 13 networking hours a day chatting to likeminded folk.  When I didn't do this, sales would stop.  

    It’s hard, hard work

    Running your own business is hard work.  When you’re doing it by yourself you have to be everything.  The photographer, the content creator, the website designer, the admin, the finance, the picker, the packer, the marketer, the advertiser and so on!  Every role is covered by you.  There’s also no switching off.  Your business will quickly become your baby and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it!  The determination to succeed will make the hard work worth it, but it can also be exhausting.  I really don’t think anyone understands how much work goes into running your own business until they’ve tried it themselves.

    Though these may all be seen as negatives, they really don’t have to be.  It’s been a huge learning curve and from every negative comes a positive – a lesson learned, an eye-opener, a deeper understanding of a process.  I really have learnt so much from running my own business over the past few years.  With thanks to my online store I have surprisingly found a new passion in blogging and have managed to make my blog my full time job!  You really never know what is around the corner and what opportunities will arise for you unless you give it a try.  If you are thinking of launching your own business, I say go for it!  You can learn along the way like I did and make plenty of mistakes (like I did) which will help to better yourself in the future.

    What lessons have you learned the hard way through running your own business?  Let me know in the comments!

    Related blog posts:
    How I became a lifestyle blogger (accidently)
    The story so far – how Lylia Rose began
    5 ways to manage your time effectively when working from home

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  2. The essentials for working from home

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    The essentials for working from home

    For many of us, getting to work from home is a blessing; you get to avoid the hustle and bustle of a busy office, don’t get stuck in traffic and you have one of the easiest commutes ever.  It’s also incredibly flexible and makes working around having young children a lot easier in most instances.  It’s not without its downfalls and certainly doesn’t suit everyone.  For me, I wouldn’t change it for the world and hope I can continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.

    When it comes to working from home there are a number of elements to keep in mind, from setting up your home office properly to being able to balance home and work under one roof.

    Here are 3 things to consider if you want to work from home:

    The essentials for working from home

    The right space

    The right office space isn’t always easy to create in a home environment. There are a number of companies such as Penketh Group who specialise in office design, but transferring what works in a professional setting to a home can be difficult.

    You need to consider the essential things an office needs:

    • Space to work
    • The right equipment for you to work effectively
    • Not too noisy
    • Ability to communicate

    The right space in your home doesn’t need to be big enough to have a meeting in, but you should be able to work quietly and have the means to communicate with customers and clients. Not necessarily just via emails, a webcam and microphone could mean that the opportunity for Skype meetings and online calls becomes a possibility, giving you face to face contact with people without needing a larger office.

    You also need to make sure your office has enough room for any other equipment you might need, a lightbox for photography or space to plan out work can be a big difference maker, and it stops work encroaching onto the rest of your house.

    Childcare

    You might be working from home to take care of the kids, but believe me -  you’re going to need some dedicated time to work also as the children can’t entertain themselves for hours on end every day, nor should they be expected to. This can be a delicate balancing act, trying to accomplish tasks while also handling childcare isn’t easy.

    Sometimes you might have a looming deadline or work that simply needs to get done. In these sorts of situations, it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand if you’ve also got to try and juggle looking after children.

    In these cases, despite working from home, it might be a good idea to see if you can leave the kids with a family member for a few hours just so you can focus and get the work you need to finish done.   If you’re earning enough you may want to look into local childcare.  A childminder or playgroup is often a lot cheaper than a nursery and usually offer more flexible arrangements.

    This way you aren’t always working into the wee hours when the kids have gone to bed, avoid being stressed and give yourself a chance to relax.

    Separating work and home

    Balancing work and home life when they are in different places is simple. With the office being in your house this separation can be incredibly difficult to achieve.

    Your home office should be its own space, that you can leave and almost isolate if needs be.

    This is why a dedicated home office is so much more beneficial than working at the kitchen table or in the living room; you don’t end up surrounding yourself with work.

    This also means you can walk away from it, allowing you to step back from any work-related stress. It might, however, be difficult to resist staying away and having some time at home without working.

    It might even be a good idea to set strict working hours for yourself, despite being at home and being able to go about your day at your own pace setting yourself actual working times will allow you to create a better sense of routine, set times for breaks, lunch and when you stop working for the day. Sticking to this instead of constantly being in ‘work mode’ can help you to avoid bringing the stress of work ‘home’ with you.

    Finding the right set-up for working from home can take a degree of trial and error; working out what suits you and your way of working the best. One of the major benefits of working from home is the degree of freedom and flexibility it can afford you, finding the ways to make the most of this can make working from home incredibly productive and rewarding.

    Do you work from home?  What’s the most challenging aspect for you?  Let me know in the comments!

    If you like this, you may also like:

    5 tips to stay healthy if you work from home

    5 ways to manage your time effectively when working from home

    Keeping safe while working from home

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  3. Keeping safe while working from home

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    Keeping safe while working from home

    Working from home can feel quite different from working in a regular office. You’ll probably begin to feel a little more casual and at ease about the experience. Even so, you also want to feel comfortable and safe at all times, whatever it is you do, and wherever it is you happen to be working from. FSB have put together these tips on how you can stay healthy, safe, and injury-free when you work from home.

    Keeping safe while working from home

    Treating the home as a workplace

    When you work from home, it can be easy to treat the workday a bit too much like a regular day at home. Why would you need to take any special care when you’ve spent years getting to know everything about the home that you feel completely comfortable in? Surprisingly, however, ROSPA found that more accidents happen at home than anywhere else, so it definitely pays to take a good amount of care while working from home.

    For any sort of industry where you’re working from home, there will always be some level of risk associated that you will be able to reduce or completely remove in order to stay healthy and safe through the working day.

    For example, if you’re a professional photographer, the amount of studio equipment you need could take up a lot of space and create an awkward tripping risk. You could be running a home-based arts & crafts business where you need to make use of sharp tools, or some chemicals and paints you use in the process may give of fumes that make you feel a little light headed and ill.

    A good way you can stay safe is to have a certain area of the house be your specific workplace. For example, if your job mainly requires the use of a computer, set up an office in a certain part of the house just for work.

    Having this kind of separation within the home could help you treat the office as a separate space entirely. You can then take out a risk assessment of just your new workspace to make sure that the space is safe and fit for what you need it for.

    Investing in high-quality equipment

    There are a number of things that you could invest in for your home office that can help make work more comfortable for you and reduce any health risks, which will keep you safe and healthy in the long term.

    If you’ll be spending a lot of time sat down, an ergonomic chair that supports your back well will be one of the best things you can buy for your office. It should last you for a long time, and it’ll make sure you can work in comfort all day. Similarly, an ergonomic keyboard will help you avoid any repetitive strain injury from typing all day.

    There are other simple things you can purchase that will make working from home safer too. Think about buying a few cable tidying tubes, which can make the office look neater while reducing the risk of you tripping and injuring yourself.

    Taking regular breaks to stay healthy

    Working from home is a great way to stay productive and motivated, and no longer having to spend any of your time commuting can help to reduce any work-related stress, but you should always look after your health as a priority too.

    You should make sure to take breaks from looking at a screen too long. Every half an hour to an hour or so, take a minute or two to refresh yourself, relax your eyes, and stretch your legs a little. It might not seem like a lot, but taking a little time to yourself during the day can help keep you more focused overall.

    Compared to a regular office, you no longer have the chance to have a quick chat with your co-workers throughout the work day, so regular breaks can also help make sure that you don’t get burned out from overworking yourself.

     

    Following this advice will be a great way to help make sure your home office is much safer, and that you’re able to work as effectively and as comfortably as you can at all times.

    Do you have any safety tips for a home office?  Let me know in the comments!

    If you like this blog post, you may also like: 5 ways to manage your time effectively when working from home

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