There isn’t a universal path to opening your own business. You could be in an industry for years before deciding you think you could operate a company thanks to your wealth of experience. Alternatively, you could start an enterprise by partnering with a reliable group of experts.
Then there’s the path that Emily Gimmel took. In our recent interview with her, she explained that the inspiration for her company GRACESHIP came from her experience as a television reporter.
“I was traveling the country and couldn’t find a laptop bag or briefcase I liked anywhere. I hated having to carry a purse and a computer bag at the same time, and I really longed for a product that would combine the two concepts into one, and that’s what I did with GRACESHIP,” Gimmel said.
While the idea was easy to come up with, turning it into reality was a completely different matter. Gimmel spent about 18 months researching her manufacturing and shipping options before she entered the market. She traveled to China to see factories and their products before developing a method of having the merchandise shipped to the United States and kept in storage. Most of this was done with little to no support.
“I had a little bit of help with bookkeeping, accounting, legal services for trademarking, but 90 percent of the work – the sweat equity that’s involved in starting a business – was solely mine. I was that passionate about the product, the idea, and about starting a brand and my own business,” Gimmel said.
Technology played a huge part in GRACESHIP’s earliest days. Gimmel explained that cutting-edge software and gadgets allowed her to break into her field more easily than had she started out 10 or 15 years ago.
The constant search
Gimmel and GRACESHIP have moved quickly to adopt as many technological resources as possible in order to thrive in the long run. To that end, the organization relies heavily on online for consumer outreach, especially because she understands her target market.
“Our product is solely for women, and what I have found is that women like to go online, research and ask questions – they will type in ‘where can I find a cute briefcase?’ or ‘where can I get a good-looking laptop bag?’” Gimmel noted.
In addition to social media marketing and display advertising, GRACESHIP uses better business blogging practices than most other enterprises.
“We do have a blog, and it’s written internally by anyone on the staff who has the time or a great idea. We write about things that are interesting to our customers and can be shared – fashion, beauty secrets, fitness tips, interviews with successful women,” Gimmel said. “This way, we hope to position ourselves as an authority in the marketplace and make visitors go from readers to buyers.”
This is an in-depth and varied strategy that should help GRACESHIP climb Google’s rankings and reach the top of the results page for all related searches. By targeting her customers through their interests, Gimmel is ensuring that her content is engaging and relevant, which will help establish a regular audience. Many of these readers will likely access other GRACESHIP pages through hyperlinks.
Additionally, Gimmel has gone above and beyond to ensure that her blog is readable. Instead of focusing on one particular type of content, she’s branched out into new areas that add a new level excitement to her marketing strategies.
“Recently, we did an interview with Katie Toupin, lead singer of an up-and-coming band Houndmouth, and because she is one of the top searches people who search for her will often end up on our website,” Gimmel explained.
This is something that you can easily use when marketing your business. Interviews are extremely beneficial for improving your blog in terms of SEO value and readership. To the latter, having an industry expert or a notable figure explain industry information can help your rank. As for the former, many consumers enjoy reading interviews because they’re a nice change of pace from standard blog content.
Of course, you can’t follow in GRACESHIP’s exact footsteps by talking to a rock star. While it may seem like a great idea to interview Dave Grohl or Jack White, it might not always be the best thing for your blog.
The key is to find someone who appeals to your audience and can speak knowledgeably about your industry. Search for a noted expert in your field and ask whether he or she would answer a couple of your questions for the company blog.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to interviews either. Another great way to vary your content marketing strategy is to publish whitepapers, case studies and infographics to engage consumers.
Just keep moving
A key issue many business owners deal with is negative feedback. Some company leaders just can’t separate themselves from their enterprises so every criticism hits very close to home, an instinct Gimmel believes should be resisted.
“I take all feedback seriously and definitely listen to it, but you can’t let it affect you personally because you can’t satisfy everyone,” Gimmel said.
However, complaints are only a small fraction of the issues that entrepreneurs have to deal with on a regular basis. There are always a wide range of problems that business owners have to handle in order to keep their companies running.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster and you have to have a certain type of personality and a will to succeed to glide through it because every day and every week is different. One day you can be riding high and generating a ton of sales, while the next day something happens with the freight shipment, some fire that you have to put out. In those cases, you have to remember your goals and the reasons why you started this business in the first place to help you get through it,” Gimmel advised.
All in all, Gimmel’s story and strategies are unique, but have a lot to offer other business owners. What did you learn from Gimmel and how she handles GRACESHIP?