February 5, 2011
You know, a high-status business typhoon once told me, “young business owners are a myth.” Apparently this person fails to realize that all myths are based on reality.
Tina Harris is a young entrepreneur who created her own online empire called Stacie’s Gifts, and get this! She started only two years ago and is still standing strong as we continue into the New Year. Tina has huge plans for her stylish jewelry boutique, and today I am excited to hear her plans as I interview her on how she created her success story. (All you aspiring business owner; you should definitely take note.)
Sabrina: What inspired you to be your own boss, and how did it impact your current lifestyle for the better?
Tina: First, I decided to create something for myself while still young. I wanted to form my own source of income, which would ultimately give me an entrepreneur skill-set that I would be able to use when older. Second, I had fun both being a local and online merchant.
From [my experience], I learned there is no security in working for someone else. Going into business with almost no clue, I took a blind leap of faith and have not looked back since. My security is based on my own efforts and merits, not based on someone else’s business decision.
Sabrina: Since you are a service company, what is your customer service motto and how do you initiate it?
Tina: Having worked in customer service for over 10 years, this was not too hard to figure out. I always put the customers first and make it easy for them to do business. Customers want reasonable prices, open communication, and a secure shopping experience. My goal for this company is actually initiated prior to the customers placing their orders. In addition to having free 24/7 access to the website, customers have the same access to our social media sites. This provides direct access to communicate with [the staff of Stacie’s Gifts] as well as information that can be used to help them shop online and offline.
Sabrina: What type of business owner are you, and how do you set yourself apart from other owners?
Tina: You can say I am a business owner that operates in two worlds. There is the virtual online world consisting of our website and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and there is the “real world” where we also service our local customers. As most business owners choose between marketing online or locally, I have been able to strike a balance between both worlds.
Our size gives us an advantage [statement referring to Tina and her staff members]. We have ample opportunity to meet our customers face-to-face, and/or simply form a connection online.
Sabrina: Every business starts with an idea, but what is the first step that you recommend for aspiring men and women to take when trying to manifest that idea into an actual business?
Tina: Now is actually a good time to start a business. In this recession, it appears that the business world is realigning itself all the way from the fortune 500 companies to the “mom and pop” establishments. My recommendation is to always start with a written plan. Test your plans, and adjust them accordingly. Have your plan reviewed by professional consultants. Know that there are no short-cuts. There is no fast track or tricks of the trade. If starting and growing an enterprise were easy, everyone would do it. Mentally prepare yourself for an adventurous journey ahead.
Sabrina: What are the three most important aspects of a successful business?
Tina: Simply put:
One – A written plan with attainable goals and objectives. Write down what you want to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish your goals in detail. Keep it simple.
Two – Happy customers that keep coming back and can put out the good word about your business. Learn how to provide good customer service.
Three – A high degree of self-discipline and superb organization skills.
Sabrina: Your website is very straightforward, yet very bright and welcoming. How important is design and marketing for a new business, and what is the best way to expose the business to the public on a tight budget?
Tina: First impressions are very important, but there is also a bigger picture. The best way to expose your business online is getting found. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and even Ning sites are an excellent way to get your site found on an upstart budget. Search engines like Google provide many free and low cost methods of getting your website out to the public.
Second, make sure your site is easy to navigate.
Last, make sure the site terms are straightforward enough for everyone to understand.
Sabrina: Loving what you sell is crucial for credibility and success. What are your favorite items in your inventory and why?
Tina: There are a few items that are near and dear to me. The first is the beige Pashmina. Of course, I own one of my own. I can wear it with almost anything, and it is versatile enough to wear year round. The Pashmina is a piece I personally wear on a regular basis. The second is the Dragonfly necklace. I love wearing the Dragonfly necklace as I can always expect a compliment, or it can spark up a conversation with someone I have never met before. It also helps breaks the ice with prospective local customers who end up buying the very same necklace as a gift.
Sabrina: What is your ultimate goal with Stacie’s Gifts?
Tina: The ultimate goal of StaciesGifts.com is to create a secure future for myself and loved ones by becoming the premium one stop shop for gifts and women’s accessories online. Our purpose is to provide gift items for any occasion such as weddings, anniversaries, holidays, and corporate events at the most affordable prices.
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