My wife has always been passionate about craftwork, and after a bit (lot) of encouragement from friends and family she made the commitment to join the ranks of UK new start-ups and LK Loves was born. As anyone who has started any business will fully appreciate there is a heck of a lot to do and usually only one pair of hands to do it with!
Alongside formalising her portfolio of services, making arrangements for raw materials and preparing products Leanne has a whole pile of other stuff that needs to be done, including setting up her business internet presence and that is what Leanne delegated to me just over a week ago, she is already showing evidence of two key skills in any business – influencing skills and effective delegation!
It went something like this, ‘You’re so good at this kind of stuff, it would be brilliant if you did it and I can do a Lamb Shank while you start working on it!’Playing to an ego and providing a reward is a great technique and I succumbed! To be frank I also kind of under-estimated just how much work was involved.
When I first set up Korolit I took the decision to build the company website myself to both save money, and after having seen a lot of pretty ropey professional websites. My first attempt was crude but over the past few years, and a number of re-builds, I was pretty confident that I could do a good job and save Leanne a heck of a lot of stress and money.
No experience in the craft business, or building e-commerce websites and no detailed client brief is not a great place to start and I crossed my fingers that I would get enough right to avoid a heck of a lot of time consuming re-work. A year ago I had moved to WordPress and have been hugely impressed by its flexibility and powerful features. If you are planning to build your own website, or contracting a web designer I would strongly recommend it as a foundation. Korolit had been based on the X-Theme but I took a look around at alternatives and came to the conclusion that the UDesign Theme was probably a better fit to her needs.
I set up her .com domain LK Loves, and I also bought all the other key suffixes to avoid any issues later. A lot of start-up businesses ask me if a .com domain is still worth going for with so many other suffixes around and my advice would be absolutely, if necessary adapt your business name if it allows you to get a .com and also buy all the other key suffixes including the .net, .org, .co.uk etc. If your business does grow and becomes very successful and you then want to buy the .com it might cost you a heck of a lot of money. If you’re looking for investment your equity partner may also insist that you acquire it prior to any money being released.
I then installed and configured a copy of Woocommerce. It’s an open source e-commerce plugin designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress. It was Launched on September 27, 2011 and the plugin quickly became famous for being easy to install, with powerful features and lots of ways to be customised. Being free is also pretty compelling! Worldwide its estimated that a staggering 18% of e-commerce sites are now using Woocommerce as a foundation. Although the base product is free you can get a lot of costs creep in with the various plug-ins and other customisations needed to make the thing work and look good and I have built a heck of lot of experience in how to avoid a lot of these costs. Building an e-commerce website is a heck of a lot more challenging than an informational site and It took me a pretty intense week to complete all the work and release a production site.
Alongside the new website we also set up LK Loves Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest sites to give us a good cross link of social media and I also did some SEO work to ensure the website performed well, and appeared as high as possible in a Google search. Last I had Leanne check that everything worked ok before finally asking a friend to user test the end to end workflow etc.
On the 25th November LK Loves formally opened for business (https://lkloves.com). Since then Leanne has run a series of Facebook campaigns that have taken the reach out to around 6K people with 700+ actively engaging with her content and she has built up over 100 Likes on Facebook.
Leanne has had a great start with some good early orders, and is already looking to expand her portfolio. It’s been a great experience for both of us. Having two small business owners under the same roof can be stressful at times but its certainly very rewarding. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing her fledgling business start to generate a steady revenue stream and grow and I will post a follow up post in a month or so to let you all know how things have been going.