Turning your business idea into a reality can take many forms – from planning to funding, to execution, establishing your very own business is a unique experience for every person.
While we are seeing many people of different age groups setting up their online business, most of these are emerging from the very popular social media platform; Instagram. We chatted with a few of these entrepreneurs to bring you their stories and some of their top advice for running your own online business.
For sisters Alma and Raai, founders of Ranch.co, baking and selling sweet goodies came as no surprise after they just finished their culinary studies abroad. Alma, who was always into culinary arts and baking, was joined by her sister Raai, who had a passion for surfing – A surprising twist, and Raai shares with us the story behind it; “Mum made it a condition, saying she’d let me go surfing if I joined this baking class, and I loved surfing so I went for it. That’s how my passion for baking started.”
On the other hand, Sheeza from she.makes.lunch, was convinced by her son’s friends to start selling her savory lunch meals. Even though she was always fond of cooking, the business turned out to be a great side job and she wishes that she had started this earlier.
Similarly, Myne from whisk.mv too, started out as a side hustle, while on the search for a means to make ends meet. Whisk.mv was initially formed through Myne experimenting various sweet recipes as a hobby, but has now become her main thing, and after 3 years, she’s extremely proud of the journey!
Your story could even begin in the most unexpected of ways; for Falak, baking was something she started once she lost her job, and her go-to form of ‘therapy’. Never in a million years would she have thought of kick-starting her own business (BakiesbyFalkies) if it wasn’t for some uplifting pushes from her family and friends.
While all their startup stories are different, they all have one thing in common; using Instagram as their main platform to kickstarting their online business.
But why Instagram out of all social media platforms?
Being able to update your followers in a jiff
In just a few seconds, you are able to update your feed or story and let your followers know any new exciting news, such as a new product in the menu or a change in the working hours. It is also super easy to engage with your audience through Instagram, which helps develop a closer connection. For Alma and Raai, it’s not about gaining new followers; it’s about keeping the loyal ones and that’s what they focus on when using Instagram.
More people view Instagram stories than Facebook
Putting those little updates on your story is extremely popular, and this feature, if used properly, can be very useful for you. For example, Myne uses the hashtag #JoyOfDesserts for easy searching, and features any photos of the desserts uploaded by users with the hashtag on their IG story. But if you’re wondering why specifically Instagram and not Facebook, Falak believes that more people view Instagram stories than Facebook stories.
Easier to reach the desired audience
Even though you’re on social media with different types of people as your followers, every business has a specific target audience or a particular category of people they give priority to attract to their page and products. It could be an age group, or people living in a specific area, which is an easy target to achieve when advertising on Instagram.
“Not only is it affordable, but it also enables us to stay connected with our existing customers while being able to reach and expose our products to a new potential market by expressing our individual creativity,” says Myne.
Use of a planned strategy and tools
Instagram is known as a platform to express creativity and this is no different for these businesses. Having a unique feed makes you stand out among your competitors and keep attracting more people to your business. Even though all the businesses we chatted with attempt to match their Instagram posts with each other, it’s always a good idea to have a planned strategy and/or tools. Now with technology, there are much easier ways to keep your feed organized. For example, Ranch.co uses the digital planner from Cake and Cookie Planner to keep track of their uploads on social media.
As an entrepreneur, you always need to be ready for any changes and unexpected bumps in the journey. Within their stories, we were also able to come up with some do’s and don’ts through their biggest struggles and adaptations.
Don’t give up
Starting your own business can be a tough experience, especially for someone that’s totally new in the entrepreneur world. While everyone faces their own challenges, for Raai and Alma, it was continuously ruining what they loved to make. In simple words, their biggest struggle was burnt cakes, but it never made the sisters think that they should give up and stop trying. After a long time of practice, not only have they aced the work that they do, but are also setting up a studio to help other bakers in their journey by guiding them with proper techniques and recipes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When someone out of the business world thinks of a “business”, their thoughts are usually pictured with a large work space and many workers finishing their daily tasks, but when you’re a home business, sometimes one of the biggest challenges you are faced with is running a business alone with not many people to help you. This is what happened to Sheeza; to help overcome this obstacle, she was joined by her sons who were extremely supportive in her journey – from assisting in delivery to social media posts, Sheeza found a business partner within her helpful sons.
Do experiment with what you got and what you can do better
The troubles don’t only arise when you first start and are trying to get the whole thing together, but can pop up in the most unexpected times of your journey. This is why problem solving skills and critical thinking are some of the most important entrepreneur skills.
Just weeks after Falak started going forward smoothly, she was faced with a situation where she had no way to deliver her products to her customer and had to take a break in her work. “I thought it would be really dull, because I hate staying idle, but it turned out to be better than I expected. I spent lots of time experimenting with new recipes and my family helped me throughout the time in every way.” Falak has used her free time effectively and came back with new products that gained her a lot of new customers in just a few days.
Similarly, Myne was faced with the same problem, and made use of her time to come up with a better menu. In a few weeks when she was able to, she got back to delivering products to customers and is now taking her business forward with even newer creative ideas.
Every business we talked to had one thing in common; they all desired to have a diverse menu with a large variety of products. The more different types of products in your menu, the more potential customers you have. Different people have different food preferences and people are always excited for new tastes and flavours.
Do what you love
“Your passion is something you should never give up on, but something you always build on”, says Sheeza, and even though it feels risky to turn your passion into something profitable, Myne shares that it was one of the best experiences she had in her life. Raai stresses that one very important thing to keep in mind is that if you want to do it, make sure that you have proper knowledge on it and research on it. Try to think your way through the problem and take the positive reviews as a motivation to keep going forward like Falak does.
You can follow their journeys at:
Instagram: @bakiesbyfalkies / Facebook: Bakies by Falkies
Instagram: @ranch.co / Facebook: Ranch Co
Instagram: @whisk.mv / Facebook: Whisk
Instagram: @she.makes.lunch / Facebook: She Makes Lunch