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If you've been thinking about starting a biz or launching a new product but just don't know how or where to begin… I suggest beginning with the industry itself.
Become a part of that industry, even if it means being a non-active member, just observe and soak it all in. By getting familiar with the "players" of all sizes and learning the lingo familiar to that industry, you will begin to learn about what makes that industry special. Here are some tips to getting your foot in the door:
1. Find the industry trade magazines, e-newsletters, online communities and trade shows subscribe/join and walk a trade show
I subscribed to a few trade mags when I started Moisture Jamzz and they were a wealth of information. From reading the beauty trade papers I learned so much about what was happening in beauty on many levels from manufacturing to retail. These are great resources for finding referrals too. For example, a manufacturing or packaging company may advertise in the industry newsletter.
2. Get involved in Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Blogosphere
Check out the popular bloggers and sign up for their newsletters. Bloggers play a very active role in most industries today. You can search twitter by using # hashtag keywords and see who’s talking about your industry. Go to Search.twitter.com and key in #beauty for example, it will show you all tweets that mention beauty recently, then you can follow those people and stay on top of hot topics in the industry.
You can read their Twitter bios and connect with them on FB as well. Usually Twitter bios have a URL/website link. You can also view who a person follows on Twitter and who follows them. Then follow industry players via FB & Twitter and comment and get involved online. Its easy & fun and you’ll be making valuable connections.
3. Research the big companies and their leaders.
I find it very interesting to see the paths that entrepreneurs took to get to where they are. I used to exhibit at beauty shows for Moisture Jamzz, and I really enjoyed getting there early and browsing the floor. One day I stopped at the Essie booth to get some nail polish and this lovely woman helped me pick out some colors. I’m always curious about the story behind brands, so later that day I googled “Essie” and saw a picture of the founder. Sure enough, that was the woman who I chatted with in the morning! By this time Essie was a huge company, run by a huge team and I was amazed that Essie herself was there working the booth. I went back and laughed with her and got to know her better. The company took on a whole different look to me, as I got to know her story and how she built the company from her love of getting her nails painted as a kid. Stories like hers inspired me to feel a bit more qualified to run a business. We all have a dream and we can persue it if we have that passion!
4. Make a list of retailers and begin to talk with them about the industry.
You can even start on a local level and go to the boutique that you think would carry your product. For example, I lived by Larchmont Blvd. in L.A. when I started Moisture Jamzz and one of the best beauty supply stores in the country is right on Larchmont. I began to visit the owners, Sharon & Fred and talked with them about the beauty industry. They are lovely and they became one of my first customers and still, 18 yrs. later Fred calls me to chat & place his order.
5. Be aware of trends in the industry, see how/why they became important.
As I began to get involved in the beauty and then the spa industry, I could see the immersion of organic/green/eco begin to happen. I watched it for a while and could see it was growing rapidly, so we launched an Organic Cotton line of Moisture Jamzz. Grow with your industry, observe, listen, ask and then take action.
Once you immerse yourself and can communicate with some of your industry’s players, it will be easier for you to see if your product or service will work OR how you can tweak your idea to now make it fit the industry that you know pretty darn well now!
Let me know how you do! Tweet me @SandyAbrams