September 17, 2019
6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Ecommerce Business

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Ecommerce Business


Hi everyone, how are we doing? Good? Yes? First of all, I want to thank Mirella, Liz, Amy, Ross and the entire SheCommerce team
for having me here. I remember when I first quit my job,
and I went to conferences. There were no women. I’m a graphic designer
and the ratio of men to women was like ten to one. Being at events like this,
not only being in the audience, but being able to stand up here
and speak and see all of you and hopefully teach you
how to be successful, and give you some clarity about how to
start a ecommerce business. This is such
a special moment for me in my career. So I want to thank SheCommerce
and all of you for being here. Because it’s a Sunday.
We could all be at the beach right now. We could be in our swimsuits,
but you’re here learning about your business. You want to start your ecommerce business. Maybe you don’t even know where to start. How many of you, just to get an idea,
are looking to start an ecommerce business? Ok, great. How many of you
already have an established ecommerce brand? Ok, great.
So it’s like a 50-50 split. My name is Kat Gaskin.
I am from Toronto, Canada. This is my first time in Barcelona. Yay, churros and chocolate and sangria. I am the founder of The Content Planner,
which is the first and only physical planner for your blog and social media content. By trade, I’m a graphic designer. I am on this stage right now
talking to you about ecommerce. However,
I did not go to school for ecommerce. I have never taken a marketing course.
I didn’t go to business school, and if there’s one thing
I want you to take with you when you walk away from SheCommerce today is that you don’t have to go to school. You don’t have to be
professionally trained in something to be successful at it because I’m proof.
I’m a graphic designer. I love Photoshop, Illustrator,
manufacturing, production, customer service. It was all so new to me
when I first started three years ago. If you want to follow me on Instagram
or tag me, which would be incredible. I would love to even see myself talk,
because I don’t have my phone right now. You can follow me
@thecontentplanner. Every day I share knowledge,
tips, training with my community. How to plan your content
how to show up online for your brand and for your business in terms of your posts,
your captions, your scheduling. You have this ecommerce brand.
You have this product or service to sell. But how do you do it? So I show up every day on Instagram
and I teach you how to do it. You can also follow my personal account,
which is @KatGaskin. My personal brand is Salty Pineapple. I don’t know
if you’ve noticed I have a pineapple on this thing. It’s my new speaker cape.
I’m really loving it. And that’s where
I initially started with Instagram. My background is in graphic design
as well as content creation. When I first quit my job,
my main goal was to work less and travel more. I remember sitting
at my desk one day in Toronto, thinking, “Wow, I am really f*cking bored”. My skills are being so underutilised. I was working for the College
of Physiotherapists in Toronto, Ontario. I was a communications associate
using constant contact, designing reports. And if you look @KatGaskin it’s completely opposite to that. It’s pineapples, sunsets, Hawaii, beaches. Being at that desk job. I was so bored. So when I first quit my job in 2012, I decided to get into freelance graphic
design that led into content creation. I’ve done the service-based
and that transitioned into ecommerce, because when you’re working for yourself
and you’re offering a service, I’m sure a lot of you relate to this,
when you’re not working, it means that you’re also not making money. That’s when I created The Content Planner. It’s a physical product.
How many of you go with physical products? Okay, so a fair bit. When I first started The Content Planner,
I knew that I wanted to be on this stage I knew that I wanted
to show up for people, specifically women, and teach them how to be successful
to avoid future failures. Like Cat said,
failures are a part of your business. They’re a part of success
and I truly believe that she did say something that was a revelation for me.
This sting is the stories we tell ourselves. Failures are a part of your success. One thing I also want you to remember
before I get into my talk, which is going to be the six things that I wish I knew
before I started an ecommerce business. It’s that you already have
everything you need to be successful. You already have everything you need.
You don’t have to be a different person. You don’t necessarily have to take
another four years of school. You don’t need any of that.
You have everything inside of you right now, sitting here in Barcelona at SheCommerce to launch your business. But you have to take action.
I want you to remember that you came here. You paid to be here and it is really up
to you to optimise that opportunity. Network, tell people about
your product, tell them about your business. These could be your people.
You are my people. You buy The Content Planner.
You are my customers. That’s why I’m here. If you want to talk to me,
I am open to that. Come say hi after this. I will be around the entire day. It is your responsibility to take everything
you can from opportunities like this. Talk to people beside you, meet new faces.
It doesn’t have to happen on social media. So let’s get started. When I first was coming up
with this talk, I asked myself, “What is the best way that I could show up
for everyone in this audience?” And being at conferences,
I started going in 2011. I didn’t want the highlight reel.
I didn’t want to hear stories about people all the time. I wanted to know,
“What can I do? What can I take away?”. The first thing I wish I knew is
the sample won’t look like the final product. When I received the the mock up for The Content Planner, I loved the color, I loved the layout. Then, once it started shipping,
the color did not look the same. As a graphic designer,
that crushed me inside. The colors and the layout. And everything, it’s actually completely changed
from when I first launched the sample. I want you to remember that,
when you get that first sample, even if you have a service-based business,
your first service won’t be what you offer. Two years later, three years later,
you’re constantly evolving and updating. When you get that sample, but you buy
the bigger production run, be prepared. It won’t look like the final sample. Second, your customers are not always right. I’m really lucky because my customers
are incredible. I love them so much. They’re women who run businesses and brands
and want to improve social media strategy. They’re so supportive of me
as a fellow business owner. I’m here to warn you. Not everyone is going
to love your product. It’s not for everybody. Sometimes they will suck the life
out of you. They want everything. They want free returns and free shipping and they want a response within five or ten minutes,
but it doesn’t have to be that way. Customers are not always right. I’ve had people tell me through email
that I’m a bad person and with my business, you’re a b*tch, you don’t know how to do
anything in your ecommerce business. Mind you, this was only like two or three people.
I don’t want to scare you. But I wasn’t prepared for that and I cried. It was really heartbreaking, especially when you’re just starting out. You want everyone to love
your product and your business. I’m here to remind you that not everyone is going to love it and customers aren’t always right. You have the right to say no.
This is a boundary for me and your behaviour. I’m not going to tolerate it. Plan as much as you can,
then, add two months. When I first launched The Content Planner,
it was a dated planner. It got stuck in the middle of the ocean for
a month and I couldn’t do anything about it. Every day that I was delayed,
I was losing money, the product was losing money. When you’re starting out or you’re wanting
to get into ecommerce, you learning as you go. I’m still learning as I go
and I’m three years into it, but learning as you go and giving yourself
time and grace to really embrace. What I need to do is not making decisions
from a place of urgency or rushing yourself. That is the best thing you can do for
you and your business when starting out. So plan as much as you can.
I mean, I love planning. I’ve always been this way,
have always been organised, but now running an ecommerce brand
and even running my Instagram, I realise now how powerful a plan is
because it gives you a clear path. I realise, okay, I want to do $10,000 for my launch.
This is exactly how I’m gonna do it. This is my email sequence.
This is how I’m gonna show up on Instagram, this is how I’m gonna handle
my customer service. Simply just writing down what you need
to do for yourself. It’s not complicated. It’s not overwhelming.
Planning is actually very simple. What I’ve heard from my customers
is they’re scared and overwhelmed. I have to have these like elaborate plans
and there has to be sticky notes, highlights and pens, and my writing has to be perfect.
I never want to make a mistake. But that’s not true. Your plan, All I’m asking you is to write it down,
have a plan and have your tasks laid out. I’m also going to share my one biggest, most helpful
resource with you for launching products. The first time I launched The Content Planner,
I did zero sales. That’s okay. As I said before it’s a journey.
You’re slowly making progress. You’re always evolving
and I decided that the next year, I would actually use The Content Planner,
because I had it in my hand. I would use The Content Planner to plan out
the launch for The Content Planner. The first year I did zero sales. The sales trickled in,
I really got a hold of my social media and my Instagram. And I sold out, which was incredible. The second year, I planned my content
down to four hours before the presale. Everything was slotted in and scheduled.
This is my personality, I love planning. and I did $10,000
in one week, with one product. And I was like, wow, I think I have this launch plan down pat and this is the resource that I used. It’s from videofruit.com, on their blog. It’s a huge article
of free resources, by the way. It will tell you everything you need to say,
how you need to craft your email sequence, how to even find a product that you want
to launch and that people want to buy. So screenshot it, check it out.
That is my number one resource for launching products,
even for services you can use it also. Get everything in writing. When I first started The Content Planner,
I actually had a co-founder. We were great friends, almost like family.
I stayed at hers. She shipped the planners, she handled all the fulfillment
and the admin. I did marketing and creative. She also did the finances.
I thought that was a great relationship. We’re gonna be like
phosphate partners together. We do the first year and it was great. We sold out and I believed that I had
a product that could be successful. So we had a FaceTime, we had a Skype. I was like, “How are you feeling for next year?
What are we gonna do? What’s our next plan?” She was like, “Yeah, I’ll work on it.
Let’s regroup in a week”. Five minutes after, I received a message,
“I don’t think I can do this anymore. I’ve talked with my family and I don’t think
it’s good for us. I’ll dissolve the business, give you your profit share and that’s it”. I was devastated. It showed me I got out scotfree.
I was very lucky. She did what she ssaid. I have no bad blood against her. I love
her. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. This is something I want you to remember.
When starting out, get everything written. Contracts, so important.
Even emails, they’re legally binding. If you don’t have anything written down, people can really screw you over and that’s not their fault. That’s actually your fault for not taking
responsibility for your own business. It’s simple. A signature, an email,
an approval. Get everything in writing. Now, I have a lawyer and she drafted everything up.
It was simple and it’s taken care of. Number five. Ask for help. Everything doesn’t have to be a struggle all the time.
You don’t have to struggle at the beginning, asking questions and not finding answers. One of my greatest resources,
Facebook Groups for entrepreneurs. Go in there join it
and start asking people questions. What’s the best Shopify theme
for a one product ecommerce store? Hey, does anyone know
how to plan their content? How do I source a manufacturer
or what’s the best dropshipping company? Facebook Groups are all information. There
are entrepreneurs who want to help you. It’s your shortcut
to all of the answers. Facebook Groups. Google and YouTube
will also become your best friend. They’re completely free and all the information
is there. You have no excuse. You have no excuse to not know
how to launch your business. When I first started in graphic design,
seven or eight years ago, there weren’t online courses. Teachable wasn’t a thing.
Webinars, workshops and events like this. They weren’t a thing when I first started.
It’s a lot easier now to launch a business. Everything is at your fingertips. Google, YouTube, and Facebook Groups
for entrepreneurs. Incredible. Lastly, be freakin’ excited
about your business. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to,
when they tell me about their business. They just look really sad
or scared or they’re not smiling. If you want me to be excited about it,
you have to be excited about your business. Because when you’re just starting out,
you do have to prove yourself. People don’t know who you are
and don’t know your products. You know, I’m not Nike.
I’m not McDonald’s or Amazon. We’re small business owners.
You have to be your biggest cheerleader for yourself in order to set that tone
for your customers and for your community. If you come up to me
and ask me about The Content Planner, you’re gonna stand there for two minutes,
hearing all about it with a big smile, because I love my product.
I love what I do. I love my business. I love being able to help women be more
successful with their content marketing. I love to show them how to make money
with their Instagram and YouTube content. That makes me excited. Naturally, that makes my community
excited about my product as well. You can practice this today
when talking to people about your business. Smile, hold your shoulders up.
Be loud, be excited. Progress over pretty.
I just told you a ton of information you’re going to probably feel overwhelmed
after this day of like information overload, inspiration overload.
It’s a very wonderful feeling, but it can also prevent you from executing. I don’t know where to start. What do I do? All I want you to remember is that, if you’re making progress and you’re putting
one foot in front of the other, you’re making small steps every single day. That’s all that matters.
It’s not going to be pretty. Your first product and service offering.
It’s probably gonna be really ugly. At least you started. The Content Planner today looks completely
different than when I started back in 2016. Three years later, it has a ton
of new features. I’ve gotten feedback, I’ve received helpful reviews and comments
from my community. It’s a work in progress. The thing is is that you can’t ever stop. Continue progressing and executing,
and you will get there. Thank you.

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