As a small business owner, I get asked all sorts of questions. Most of the questions are in regards to my work and products, but second to those types of questions, I get a surprising amount of questions about the behind the scenes of running a business.
I think these questions are worthwhile to discuss and answer because I like to share my experiences with others in hopes that they find them helpful in what they are pursuing.
Now while I can’t answer every single question I get at the same time, I have found that many of the questions I get can be grouped into larger categories that I can answer. Here’s the first in the series of blog posts answering these category questions. I hope you find my experiences helpful! Whether or not you run a business, I’ve found that lots of the things I’ve learned in business also apply to life.
How do I.....?
One question I get a lot is the how-to-do-something question. For these types of questions I will tell you that the answer for me was and still is - hard work and self-directed learning. When I want to know how to do something - I dig, google, call potential suppliers, network, read, walk the streets, stalk websites, test out companies, message customer support centers, watch what others do, and research everything that I want to figure out.
I personally don’t ask people for help because I don’t want to exhaust my contacts by asking them for things I can figure out on my own (it’s amazing how much you can figure out on your own). The only exception to this rule is my kane. I ask him for a lot of help and I know that he’ll tell me, “no” when I ask for too much. Other than that I don’t ask for help.
I do on occasion accept help from others when it is offered to me. When I accept this kind of help it is usually from my mom and family.
Here are some specific questions that I have been asked on this subject. I’ll also jot down quick answers and notes in bold.
- I wanted to know how to prepare shipping info and prices for customers, etc. from shipping and handling fees, to pricing rates for different product sizes and weight. Do we list a flat rate or price according to weight and size of box, etc? - My shopify store does most of this for me and everything else I had to figure out through trial and error.
- How to find eco-friendly packaging? Amazon
- What are the legal, tax documents you need to start a business? Google this one, but for sure you need a Hawaii Business License, GE tax ID, DBA (if you want a name for your business) and EIN if you’re using a DBA or going to hire people.
- What platforms are most useful? Depends on what you’re trying to do. I use Shopify and Instagram the most. I would like to use more, but my time is limited.
- I have a business name and logo. I have not registered my business yet. What would be some good tips to get everything in order to run my business smoothly. I have no idea what is the difference between LLC and corp. Google the technical stuff or ask an accountant. Tips to run smoothly - just put your best foot forward and work out the mistakes as they happen.
- How to keep track of inventory - I use Shopify for this.
- how to manage money our products are bringing in and put it back into the business. I would also like to learn the basics of what finances as well as tax information we should know before starting a business. Tax stuff - google. Basic money management: open a business bank account and keep it all separate.
- What I find draining is not knowing where to start, and how to start. What I need to know, vs what is good to know with launching and maintaining our business. Don’t look at the whole thing if this is you. Just pick one small thing and focus on that until it’s done. Then pick the next thing. To maintain your business - don’t forget what made you successful in the first place and keep doing those things.
- How to create a business plan, how will shipping work, also creating a website once business is established. And how to look for suppliers that will drop ship if we are not handmaking all of our products. Dropshipping sites: Printful, Redbubble, Society6 Website: I use Shopify