Accelerate Your Small Business Success by Selling Online: Amazon
Pause Hello and welcome. My name is chilling tall. I'm the president and CEO of the national Asian Pacific.
Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship. We also call National AIDS. I would like to thank the US small business administration for providing a space for entrepreneurs, to celebrate their succeed and learn new skill. As we honor small bitbucket. Since a week. I want especially like to thank administrator Gooseman for her leadership and hard work from SBA team.
National AIDS represents 2.2 million Asian, American and Pacific Islander small business owners. We also call a aapi national Ace has been working with over 70, affiliate aapi, Chambers and partner in supporting the SBA and is effort to help Recover by assessing PPL, do and a restaurant, revitalization funds.
This initiatives by the SBA have support and encourage a business owners, especially business owners of color. During this difficult times. Small businesses, no matter, their background faster, job growth Drive, Innovation and are a critical part of the US economy. Now more Enterpreneurs near the access to digital tools to transform and optimize their businesses to connect to their customers during this session, small business owners Diverse backgrounds will share how they leverage e-commerce to protect their Brent reach. New customers and grow their businesses. The past, and I team, earns of the pandemic, have a highlighted, the importance of maintaining online presence in a certain imperson world, according to the Small businesses who treated a digital tools, such as the e-commerce as essential increase their preparedness and resilience during the course Hammock.
And the more importantly, those businesses that survived going to turn away from the online tools that help them. stay connected to their customers through uncertain times. E-commerce is here to stay and we have a lot to learn.
I'm thrilled to be a part of today's discussion and I'm very excited to introduce you to three talented small business owners. Who was here, their Brand Story and explain their strategies and tips for leverage e-commerce to accelerate their business. Let me briefly introduce. Twinkle. A wallet is the founder and CEO of er food.
They see North Aurora, Illinois. Alejandro. Velez is the co-founder and co-ceo of back to the Ruth from Oakland, California. Can we call you Alex? Yeah. Thank you. And Amanda Eddie is the designer and owner of amended ear jewelry in Austin, Texas. Thank you for joining us today. So, let's hear about their recipe for success. Founder and CEO of your food. Your company was her early e-commerce at the bottom, a departure.
and you'll also an advocate for the interests of a minority women in business and Small Business Leaders Nationwide. Can you share with us about EF foods and how your God has started? All right. Thank you so much for the introduction.
I'm happy to be here. So very quickly. I'll tell you a little bit about your foods. I grew up in Nigeria. I moved to the United States about 20 years ago
and going up in Nigeria food, family, and Entrepreneurship was a part of how we survived, you know, being one of five children in my household. So, moving to the United States, my background as an immigrant American has heavily influence, what we do and explain what that means. Idea Foods. We sell flour baking mixes spices.
And powders as snacks that are made from African ingredients and Super Foods. And by that. I mean quite base. Gluten free nutritious really delicious ingredients that we use Innovative lie to create everyday American foods, like pancakes Gluten free nutritious really delicious ingredients that would use Innovative lie to create everyday, American foods, like pancakes and waffles. At e-commerce.
As you mentioned earlier, has been important to important medium, an important Channel actually. And Shadow actually in getting access to a lot of customers. Well, thank you. Thank you. What a new immigrant story. We would love to learn more about your brand and your entrepreneurial journey, and we will get back to you now Alex.
Yes. Thank you. Alex back to the rules. Has grown tremendously for the past years. Can you share with us the origin story of your company and how you incorporate e-commerce into your original business plan? And do you have any concern when starting to sell online and not just in stores? First off, honored to be here, and to be on with Towing and Amanda excited to be on this panel at the both of you a little background. Actually started the company my senior year at UC Berkeley. Going into Investment Banking and a friend of mine heard that you could maybe grow mushrooms on coffee waste, but nobody had ever done it. We thought that was a craziest but also kind of cool thing that you could take waste, literally something that was being discarded and grow food on it and gave up our investment banking offers in New York and instead became full-time.
Waste collectors full-time, mushroom farmers and over the last decade I've built now, what is the largest organic and millennial? And brand in the entire United States and we have we selling over fourteen thousand stores as well as in the Amazon store and on our website and I think you you said it beautifully chilling. It's it's not. Should we be selling on line these days? It's a requirement. So an omni-channel is very crucial to be able to thrive the end of the day. trying to get every single kid in America to grow food and whether they're going to a brick and mortar store.
There are shopping on the Amazon store on my website, back to its.com., We got to make sure. We're always trying to find that consumer. Excellent, excellent.
Wow, 14 thousand stores. That is amazing. I have a follow-up question. How do you regulate the amount of inventory you need for online sales? One of the nice things about working with Amazon. We've been working with Amazon for almost since we started the company and we've from the very beginning, maybe as a millennial founder.
We always saw the importance of having products that could ship easily anywhere in the country. So we've Incorporated in the design process of the products, something that was easy for product to ship anywhere. So when we started working with Amazon, And selling on the Amazon store. The nice thing is that there's actually tools that are in place that help you forecast it out. So whether you're selling on Amazon or
really anywhere else, ultimately, you partner with the store that you're selling with and I know Storefront in Austin, I think it's probably similar to The Experience on your side. I think with you and maybe you're partnering with knowing the consumers that are coming based on seasonality of the products. You sell. Ultimately, you're trying to read a little bit of the future and you find Partners or tools that help you do that. Thank you. Alex will come back to the design process.
I think that is so important. I'm sure that the many minority owned business will be able to relate to your company back to the roots, simple, and effective, Mission based at Comedy Company. Amanda Amanda Eddie is the owner and designer of Amanda. Dear. Jewelry, Austin Texas. What a great talent, you can design. And also you can sell Can you share the story of Amanda dear and how you made a decision to reach your customer both in person and online? Thank you so much for having me here today. I started Amanda dear jewelry, 11 years ago. I was actually working in the tech industry and I just needed to do something to step away from my computer and just do something organic and creative.
And I really just fell in love with making jewelry using my hands to create something I was like, okay, I have to figure out how to do this like full-time. So it just became a passion of mine and you know, friends would want pieces my family would. And I finally like took the step, quit my job and went full time making jewelry. We started online through the Amazon store. We have an Etsy store and then we have a website powered by Shopify and I hired a few friends and we had a 200 square foot, statuspage.
Studio where we did everything from make design ship. It was we could hardly move. It was so compact, but we had a lot of fun as I started to grow. I knew, I needed a bigger space and we actually found this.
Absolutely beautiful old building in Downtown. Austin. That was going to be big enough to be our headquarters, are fulfillment center and have a showroom, a retail showroom front. So I kind of had to change my business plan and say, okay, can we make this? Work in a retail is completely different than you know, selling online and I'm so glad. We did we started with pretty small goals of okay, maybe if the retail side can pay for the extra square footage that were getting than we've Milestone, but it's just exceeded our expectations. Being able to have people browse our website online and then come into the store to try it on and by it has just been an incredible thing.
And then also just meeting with customers and person has just been an incredible experience. So I kind of did it backwards starting on line and then opening the store, but it's been an incredible experience and one that I'm so excited to talk about and share with today. Absolutely. You know it. It's very brave. You can't just resign.
Quit your job and pursue your American dream. That is so wonderful. So wonderful. Yeah, and also you have fun way to diversify your selling channels through a combination of e-commerce and Retail that that is very very smart.
Thank you. Sure. Now, let's get back to toy. Toying how selling online has shaped your business, strategy and operations. Sense, okay. So when I started the company, it was initially really difficult to get buyers to take it. Seriously. A lot of times people would describe me as selling Nigerian food, you know, even though I was already cracking some waffles and Ice to be posting for me, but I understood it.
So there was a freak problem that was a branding issue at the beginning. Royalty based Solutions because we technology-based Solutions, you get to try to get to see the effectiveness of data without kind of like be the issues you might like come across when it's more perception problem. So we went to Amazon. Shouldn't be selling on Amazon storms, almost as Inception. And we put our product on there and for us it wasn't just the ability to become a seller on Amazon. Store was also the opportunity to see what our competitors were doing. Alex, talked about being able to ship in an effective way. way. So, I remember when we started selling Amazon store, initially,
we had different sizes for Google products. And then when, you know, it wasn't taking up the way we want it. We want to look at our competitors. And say what sizes are they selling? Does that translate to cheaper and more effective shipping costs for the customers? Who would look at comparable data will be competitive. Use. So even in an innovation, I would go somewhere to go and start reading reviews where we see what customers I say. I like this about this particular brand.
I like this about this ridiculous to, we would note that down. But we see what they don't like. like. We would not rule also, no doubt, some kind of new. Is going to not just competitors, but looking at just how category what sizes to sell, what to innovate and give customers more of what they wanted. So he comes was definitely, I want to say a stepping stone to how we started.
Because not only were we able to be successful and grow their, I mean, obey and effect and affect every aspect of our business. We're actually also able to use that sales data to It's not only were we able to be successful and grow their and innovate and effect and affect every aspect of our business. We're actually also able to use that sales data to Pivot into stores. So now when Walmart just got into a bunch of other stories and what were able to do was? Take that data. For example, I'll give you a quick example. Stop one of our baking mixes. We took the data from Amazon and were able to go post over. 300.
You need somebody November. to selling almost. Hundred thousand units on that this year because we would use that data to people in to store. So, selling online has definitely been amazing because it's open. Do is the way I like to describe it is, when you go to a tech based platform like Amazon, the do is kind of Kind of open, right? So you can go in there regardless and just try to compete and try to see how customers respond to your products. And that's a big deal for for me as a small business owner, particularly as minority-owned business was definitely an important Absolutely, and how can you keep the balance in optimizing, your profits, while still providing your customer a high quality product? All right, so there's a lot that goes in there.
So first of all, to get the customer, right, you have to give the customer what they need. so we offer a plant-based products by the same time. There were other components that you were seven. So that has been Incorporated not just get acquiring customers for keeping the customers because you don't want to go out and stop. So we use the inventory planning to. So I actually find every day. We're looking at those tools and
Also Logistics. We were able to use NBA for those who don't know what that means. Remember, Amazon was incredibly important for us to the small business because there's some customers who go online. So, I'm for Amazon store and be able to get the product Niche today.
That's something that is impossible for us to do. We effectively cost-effectively as a small business. So those are the kind of things that would be used to make profitable is, you know, you what you want to do is you want to increase quality, you want to give customers what they want and you want to reduce your expenses as quickly and as best as you can. Can so being able to sell using the FBI planning is an inventory project. So with inventory for me, like I said, there's a lot that goes into that because we know we're going to sell we can forecast. We're going to sell doing Thanksgiving
That inventory planning. We know what we're gonna sell. We can focus. We're going to sell doing Thanksgiving with what we can forecast or going to sell during the holiday. So we can negotiate ingredient costs in the best way possible because of that. Yes, absolutely Twain, you know, I can feel, you know, you have full passion about your your business. It's always so nice to promote, Nigeria culture through the food. I think that is so wonderful. Thank you.
Thank you. I'm a Thank you. Anda in addition to your position as a business owner, you're also serve as a charter president of the women's jewelry Association. Thank you for doing the community work.
I'm sure you have heard from many business owners in your industry. They're they're facing a operational challenges during the past year. What role has e-commerce play in supporting small business growth. While many business owner face closure or capacity.
Fictions. That's, you know, so important right now. Last year was a really tough year for a lot of the members of our chapter. We have a lot of very traditional jewelry stores that are you, you know online online their retail only. So they're just brick and mortar. So when they had to close their doors, you know, everything stopped, you know, And so we really focused our resources last year on continuing education in the form of webinars for our members, whether it was creating your first website to sell, you know online. Um, teaching them how to use promotional sites, like Pinterest to promote their jewelry, to get it to more people.
We really focused on helping them sell online and getting up there first websites. And in going to e-commerce. It's so important. Now, I feel like, you know, you really have to future-proof your business because you just never know what's going to happen. So that's why omni-channel, you know, selling is so important. We saw some incredible stories of resilience and growth. Last year with our members stores that have been around for 50, 60 years started, their very first e-commerce website last year to sell things online.
So it was just incredible to see the resilience of the members and how quickly you know, it is to put a website up now as opposed to years ago. So it was it was great. I I look forward to lots more training and webinars and really pushing e-commerce with our members. Yes. Talking about website for the startup entrepreneur. What's the quickest way to put together an e-commerce site or web site if you don't have a technical experience or the budget to a higher web designer, I really like Shopify, which is a site that you can use Own website, they have built-in and themes. That make it super easy and simple to like, get something started. If you're a product-based business.
it's just easy and you can create a really beautiful looking website in a matter of minutes. Also, you know, we rely very heavily on the Amazon store to sell our products. That's also, you know, very easy to get up and running. You go through the onboarding process and really you just need your photos, your copy and you're ready to To go. So don't discount all of these really great places that you can sell online that have these built in marketplaces that help you reach people that you might not have gotten on your own through your own website. Thank you so much.
And the Alex. I know very much like Amanda and toy giving back is a big part of your brand. Please tell us about your mission and how your encourage your customer and your community online by connecting with them. Sheer set of a values. Yeah, so the Gardening is one of those things. If you've never done it is it's hard to fully relate to a gardener until until you've actually gotten your hands dirty and done it. You get into it the effects on your well-being, your health and your mental well-being is our massive and it's a really exciting time in the category and the industry On the category, Captain has been Scott's Miracle-Gro and great company been around for a while.
But in so many ways, there are still a chemical fertilizer company and I think as you look at the millennial consumer, they're looking for so much more. They're looking for a connection there looking for ingredients. They can understand and stuff that they want to, you know, be able to put in their home and when they're have house plants inside.
So ultimately for us is about how do we get kids to Garden? How do we get that? The Next Generation to be able to do this as a community. And one of the things we started which I think reference from the very beginning back when we're doing farmers markets, when we were 22 year olds. It was every time we had a family If you, you know, after they purchased it, if you send us a picture by text message that the time will donate one to a school of your choice, you know, fast forward eight, nine years, and we've now put that in every single, one of our products that we It's a longest and standing marketing campaign we've had but it's very much inspired by Blake's Macau skis. Tom's one-for-one model and we just want to take to the next level. And it's incredible. We said. Hey, we want our community to actually be able to do the donating themselves.
themselves. So, on our side, we tell consumers every time now, it's not a text message to me personally, but you can go on any of our social channels. You can email to email us and if You take a picture, share it with your kids, will donate, one to a school. And what beautiful thing about this is the community.
We've built. If you actually go to our Instagram or our Facebook, and you just see our tag pictures, it's pictures of their kids with our products. I mean, how many parents are? I mean, that's the most intimate, you know, picture.
You can have one of your kids. So often parents never share pictures on social yet. If you look at our Instagram, its all full of our community sharing this, the fun, and the joy of growing. So it's just
You know, I've heard in the past if you know, the more you give the more you get and I feel like that is what back to the roots is all about. And yeah, it started when we were doing farmers markets. I feel like families. Were the ones that kept us busy. And if anybody's, if y'all have done farmers markets before Of you're just staying there.
Nobody talks to you. So for us, we were like, man, somebody said 30 minutes and talk to us and about mushrooms and growing so we gotta donate something. So it started spontaneous and now it's become the longest land. Blasting most important part of our community. That is absolutely amazing. Thank you for your service.
And previously, you talk about design process. So, you know, you have a developed a very good at social media. And all the tools and also you will be able to connect to the community, how to you, put two together what to have been most effective to help you to make those connections. Got it. So you mean connections between our social and our online customer your community? You know, I think and I think toy Instead This beautifully to start me at the end of the day. We have to have a product that people want, and I think our job as brand builders.
He's once we've got products that are consumer wants at the time. We've got to find a way to get the get it to them. Whether it's in our side is, whether it's in store, whether it's online on Amazon store on our website, or whether it's on social. So, I think for us is, We've got to have a product that solves somebody's need, and then we got to put it on in front of people. over the experience our brand, whether it's when they interact with our product, when they're at a Home Depot or at a Target store or they just happen to be on Instagram and they get one of our ads at the end, the day that all should be the same cohesive message and that's the way to get them So I think it's a the overall approach to it is hey, we're we want to make products that people hopefully want to buy a need and we just got to get it out to them. And I feel like everything else is just ways to get it out to them whether it's online, whether it's in store, whether whether it's on social, It's in store, whether whether it's on social, ultimately, that's what our job is brand.
Builders is all about. Well, thank you for sharing Towing, you know, like a national AIDS. My organizations member recognize that the minority owned, businesses have been historically disadvantaged in the large Market Each market as a men or two women owned business. What are you seeing from your partners in Industry that are helping to address that Gap in excess resources and opportunity. And that is such a true point.
I think because I grew up in a jail. I moved here at the age of 26. didn't I didn't appreciate just how serious a big this problem was. So when I started my business I started to really come across a lot of the issues.
You have as minority being a woman and on top of that being a black black women. So the first thing I start to do as a small business was jogging to the ecosystem within my industry. So for example the food ecosystem and then take advantage of every resource. I
could so good example, and I mentioned earlier that was going to talk about Amazon quite a bit because that's what we do. Most of our e-commerce sales is that Amazon blood business accelerator, which we were apart of from the beginning even before The pilot that I've been a part of that. She's November one that has done for us to keep up, giving us a better understanding of how to dissect the data. And data is really important
because as a small business, a lot of times you don't have the time when I started my business. I was the one who cleaned the bathrooms. I was the one who made you product.
I was going to be marketing, you do everything. you don't really have the time at the beginning to diving today data. So having access to data understanding, how to use the data having access to and Hachi b c's which enhanced by Tent. And that's usually what you use your pictures videos and use really good content to Market what you're selling to your customers.
So we plug into that new PowerPoint. And of course, it's been a big big impact for us in how we go to our business. For example, earlier this year. We were four hundred percent in terms of the number of things were selling in the number of the revenue would get it for my Amazon store compared to last year.
year. That's what we've done grown your own year, just on our e-commerce, El platform and also on His own store, so that's one. I mentioned earlier Prague Native Food ecosystems.
So you want to plug into. And the reason why I say plugging to ecosystems and resources when your woman in America, you're gonna get less funding. That's just a fact. Well, your boyfriend's today. You're gonna get a nice pointy.
That's just a fact. You're going to get less access to resources. So what you want to do is you want to be really intentional and you want to be really want to be a hustler. In terms of the number of things we're selling in the number of the revenue would get it from Amazon stock, compared to last year. That's what we've done. Groan yelling year just on our e-commerce of platform and also on Amazon store. So that's one I mentioned earlier plug-in into food ecosystems.
So you want to plug into and the reason why I say plugging to ecosystems and resources when you are woman in America, you're going to get less funding. That's just a fact. Well, your WordPress today. You're gonna get a nice pointy. That's just a fact.
You're going to get less access to resources. So what you want to do is you want to be really intentional and you want to be really want to be a hustler. is the one. I'm is what I'm looking for, in to just looking for any resources out there.
So even though we're going to medicine as a business, as a small business owner. I apply for every glance I come across regardless of how small it is because he adds up. For any resources out there. So even though we're going to medicine as a business as a small Business, Without I applied for every glass, I come across regardless of how small it is because he adds up. Also, I protect my mental health mental, health is something I talk about a lot as an interpreter because regardless of who you are, whether you're my, no, you're not. I don't think people talk enough about the mental health of entrepreneurs, how you bet it all on one thing and you don't know how it's going to turn out.
do spend a lot of time, making sure that I protect my Mental health, this is a nice plug for back to the boutique. nicely. We gotta get you gardening. A place both for online seller and between online stores. Can you talk about how you actually use digital tools to protect your brand and intellectual property Online? Yesö ways to protect our brand online. I mean, I think the we take in a an approach of and I think maybe it's the similar mindset that Tony has of the end of the day, the the markets going to copy of you put in one of our top sellers, a mushroom kit. If you put in mushroom kit, there's like ten copycats already that look exactly like ours.
There's over 40 around the world that I mean, it's copy paste. So what we do in different languages, we have you put an aquaponics fish tank. World do and selling on Amazon Amazon store.
So, my big belief is, you just got to get out there. You got to hustle. You got to put your product.
You got to get your name out there. You got to get people to know who you are, and you got to as much as possible. I have a product that can just wow, that person that's looking to buy it to solve something. And then ideally, they come back and either buy it again by something else from you. So that is by far the way, I see protecting yourself. He's by obsessing over.
If you just get complacent. Somebody else is going to go create a product. that's slightly better and we'll end up putting you out of business. Like, think that's the reality of maybe the mental health aspect of being entrepreneurs is that it's a 24/7 job. Thank, Mark. Cuban is said that.
This is this is hard work and that's said I think there's fundamentals you got to do I think on the Amazon store. There's something really great, which is called brand. Which I highly recommend anybody starting on Amazon to do and that's that's a way to protect it. I think Amazon has to do a lot more for small businesses to protect us and give us more leeway before three months. later. There's copycats. Just, I mean, toy mentioned.
This is clearly an if you go to twins Amazon store. It's beautiful. Its I literally sent you, I sent this to my own team. I was like, hers is perfect across the board. I think it's so clear what you're doing is clearly working. But so many people get on Amazon, the Amazon store to to copy and to there's so much transparency, which ultimately I'm a big believer in it.
But reviews, tell you what are the features that they like that? They don't like There's a lot of data on the back and that you can get and I think ultimately it's a free market. That's the point. I think there's some great tools that Amazon is starting to release brand. Registry is a really important one. I think there needs to be more from not just Amazon, every retailer to be able to protect small businesses and ones that bring Innovation, first to be able to get a slight heads up Entirely a free market in the world. There's different parts and different industries that have, you know, their subsidies in different countries or something including the United States in the food industry that are make it where it's not.
I'm all for free country, all for free market, but when you start, adding subsidies into the equation around the world, or different practices, towards how the employees and the teams are treated, then it doesn't become Apples to Apples. So ultimately, it's a really hard and challenging issue, too. Solve, I think, Amazon's trying to solve it and other retailers are trying to do it as well. But I don't know how I got to this long of an answer, but it's a really a question. But yeah, great. Well, let's see the next question. Give me a short answer for a lot of customer. Service is easy to handle in store. But how to you make sure customer service meet your Brand's bar when sell it?
You still online vendors? It's easy to have customer service when you're in store. You're saying how do you do that online, correct? I mean, we sell through vendor Central, so we don't have the direct communication with the consumer. Amazon has the real relationship on our website.
Obsessing over your consumer, making sure that if somebody has a complaint of, if somebody reaches out to you the customer service issue, not just solved their issue, solve their problem, go above and beyond, and then see if it's a systematic issue with your products. So you can learn that and make sure you don't do it with other products. Are you fix it going forward? Okay. Thank you so much. Alex. Now Amanda, we would like to just follow up or question to our lexer. How do you get a traffic to your Your site.
And how do you manage in fulfillment of those older coming in from multiple sources, so we do a lot of advertising on different social media platforms. We also work with influencers and have affiliate programs to get people to wear jewelry and then talk about it. So there's a lot that happens behind the scenes to get our brand out there and it's, you know, it's been a A long time, you know, 11 years of working really hard to build a brand and really create a beautiful aesthetic, not only on our website, but where their packaging, like, when you get your product, it's got to look beautiful. When you come to the store. It has like beautiful, you know, everything from the tone of our customer service emails to the tone of the copy, and our website is very thoughtfully done, so that you just have this really great experience. Organic means they have a really great experience whenever they interact with our brand, no matter what change point that is.
So that's that. What was the second part of the question that you asked? Yes. The second question is, how do you manage in fulfillment of those? Odors coming in from multiple resource sources? So whether Amazon store even in Amazon, handmade which is what we're part of you can do Amazon FBA, which is really great. You make it it and ship it and you don't have to think about it anymore. It's amazing when orders come in through our other sites Shopify or Etsy.
We use a product called shipstation that kind of like brings everything together and it's just one really easy way to have a snapshot of what needs to go out, what needs to be made. You know, we're still making hand making a majority of our pieces. So we do have like a lot of time that goes into fulfilling and processing orders. So have an incredible. Studio manager who is really organized and is really good at Inventory management and getting all of that out the door every day. So we have a lot that we do but we've got tools like that that help us along the way and help us get things out quickly because I think that, you know, today's customer wants things yesterday. We actually offer free shipping across all of our stores that we sell on and I think that's really important nowadays and you really is a business owner, have to take that cost into consideration and kind of build On Prime is great.
Product price or you're just going to lose lose on them the other side? Yeah. Thank you Amanda. Thank you so much for, you know, all the great, great, great answers. We have a few additional question here submitted by small business owners that I will address to the whole panel. Please just jump in if you would like to ensure and share your advice and experience, and the very first question for small business owners, many small.
Business cannot make it. They cannot survive and have to close their shop. And you have proven that you can do it through this difficult time. Can you share with us? How you make it? What keep you going Amanda? Maybe you can start it.
Oh, I think if anything last year showed us that you have to be prepared for, I mean, anything can happen and you know, we really sat down as a team and took a look at like, You know, if cells just not like what are we going to do? You know? And I feel like we've got a really strong business plan and a really great dedicated team and we were able to kind of like weather the storm, which is still, really Rocky, you know, it's still, you know, if you're selling online last year Right for e-commerce, but for Brick and Mortar stores, it was really tough. So just understanding that and having a plan is key. But for sure like have a plan have I like to have like a nice little cushion sitting in the bank Happens. I know that, not everybody can do that. But you know 90 days is three months, is a long time to figure out a pivot or something to do. So that's kind of like where where we always like try to run and you know, not having any funding and being bootstrapped.
That's really important to do. Thank you for sharing. Alex? I'll say one thing and I would say, anybody's looking to start a business right now lean on your partners and I would Define that as do everything you possibly can to get an unfair share of attention from your partners. Three of us here on the panel. We're getting an unfair share of attention from SBA from Amazon.
Like that is we should be super humbled, super appreciative and always look for that. At the end of the day. That's how you've got a, you're competing against really big Brands. You both have weighed competitors of yours are massive. So get an unfair share of attention for your partners, and I think a lot of that will come from the mission behind what you do, the passion that they both have. And I obviously have for my business as well. Thank you, towing. I think the first thing I like to say is just be kind to yourself first because if food is my fourth business, the first one failed spectacularly within six months. And I remember how difficult that was. I will add my first child.
child, I was pregnant with my second and so I always advisor will be kind to yourself. Sometimes it was what you think of doesn't work out. Sometimes you have to start a new business. Sometimes you have to Pivot, which Amanda her talked about, give up within the business right.
Now. Even in here Foods, were going to Brandon We Fresh daily November, so why even have to pay but within the successful business, so first of all, be kind to yourself But because that's very important. And number three is something that I've learned along the line, is know who your true stakeholders are. That's something I had to take very seriously as a founder of the business. And I had to Define Berry very clearly who are true. Stakeholders are
once you define that you start to ask the right questions and then you start to have the right answers and then you see a part of your business, not The part of your business began to take off which is why pivoting is such an important part of, you know, succeeded as a business, you know, quick examples example of that and I'll stop the first thing. We started selling at EF who's was actually sauces. Two products for sauces, we discontinued those sources to and happiest in and that's very difficult to do as an entrepreneur, but we have to Pivot to dry food because was incredibly difficult to to compete in the in the wet food category. So, those are the three things I would point out, be kind to yourself.
No, one, two, pivot identify your true stakeholders. and the rest is the fall into place. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
I think your testimonies and your experience really inspire all the small business owner. Ours, I haven't seen the brittleness, you know, through this panel and the one your new immigrant and we have Amanda resigned her job to pursue her dream. And then we have Alex tardy from college. You're doing that from his kitchen. It just amazing story. If you can make it. it. I'm sure other small business owner, will be able to make it.
We have a other questions. If a brand is just getting started. With their business of plan. What questions should they be asking themselves to formulate their online sales strategy who like to start? Oh happen. Really, you know, through your Amazon store, and through FBA, you can offer free shipping. But if you want to do that somewhere else on your own site, you really need to think about that cost because it's not really free In for it, so factor that into the price of your product and just really think about all of the things that you have to pay for as a business owner. And put that all on your plan, you know, before I quit my job. I sat down and wrote this massive spreadsheet of like all of the things that I needed, you know, and it's a lot and just make sure you're prepared and you think about kind of everything and then I just wanted to touch on You know, when you're starting out, it can be kind of hard when you're working by yourself.
You know, I was at a, in a spare bedroom in my house for a year. just doing this by myself, and don't be afraid to reach out to other people in your industry. shoot them an email or if their local ask them to go get a cup of coffee and ask their advice. You'd be surprised how many people are so quick to respond and they're going to get so much out of it. Just like you are. Thank you. And the next question is about the international markets.
How having eCommerce sites, help you reach new, international markets, what tools are available to help you get started. Selling International Lee, any one of you can answer this questions. That's actually something we're working on right now specifically for Mexico, specific for one or two of us kills, were looking at Canada as well. And I would say in terms of e-commerce, what that enables us to especially Amazon stories because they have always ready, ready, formats, ready platforms, where you can Port your your skills or a savings into Country. So that has been useful to us in terms of explaining, it sounds of exploring it. That's also one of the benefits of the black business accelerator that I mentioned earlier, because we're able to talk to their Camp manager from that is entitled by Amazon to say.
Hey, we want to sell it in Mexico. What do we need to be thinking about in terms of packaging? Because for a lot of these countries, sometimes you have to have, you know, different languages for Canada, sometimes on packaging. That's French for Mexico. to have Spanish obviously. So those are things that we'll be working on as well. But so far, it's been a pretty smooth process walking through the Amazon store platform as opposed to doing it on our own.
Thank you. Well, we still have a couple question. We wish we can answer or business owner for those questions, but we have very limited time right now. The following question is a mega and lack a brick-and-mortar retail where you can estimate, how much your food traffic, you might have come through. - cells can vary widely day to day or month to month. month. How have you managing to scale your business and remember,
flexible to demand Alex? Can you help to answer this one? How have we managed to Scale based on the seasonality? Correct? It's seasonal because of the sun and the weather. So, you know, I think I spoke to this a little bit earlier and there are so many more tools and I would strongly argue anybody who's launching To start with Amazon, whether you can apply to be a vendor or doing it via as a 3pl, the Amazon store. I mean they've got there's thousands of small businesses like you that have done it. And through that.
they've got a lot of trial and error on tools that help you forecast. So, don't do this alone, find Partners from the beginning, sell the product don't spend a year thinking about what product to sell, put it out there. Talk to Consumers. Hers and leverage stores like Amazon, like, Etsy like Thrive market. Like, I mean, there's a ton out there that will help you get your product to your consumer, but go out there and sell, don't overthink it Excellent, or last question.
How do you use online advertising to reach more customers? And what's your strategy can each one of you? Just give me one sentence? Amanda. Okay. Really quick, you know, I talked about this before, but we use a lot of Facebook advertising and look-alike audience has to be able to reach our customer. And
it's been a really effective way to There's DSP and search on Amazon, specifically, that should absolutely be used. Start with a small budget and trial and error. Brand, thank you, Alex. Thank you, toy. So we do a lot of our e-commerce advertising on Amazon as well, and we're very targeted. We target specific Brands.
We target specific. Customers were pretty intense and how we Target and that has been very successful for us. Thank you. Well, this conversation has been set for inspiring. inspiring. I want to thank Amanda Alex and towing three driven entrepreneurs
for sharing their story and experience selling online with us today. And I want to wish you all of you succeed, as you'll learn to grow your business online. I learned about plan Partners product how to solve people's needs and how to find a product that the people needs. And thank you so much. And for more information about how to get a started selling on Amazon or other online. Retailers. Be sure to check out their virtual boost for resources and training materials. We will share or entrepreneurs web page and contact information. After conclusion of this session.
Also share my organization's website National Ace dot-org. If you are interested in learning more about the or resources. Take care, and thank you very very much for your time.
Thank you. Amanda. Alex and towing. Thank you. Thank you.