Issue 6 of LIVE Magazine SA featured two young and flourishing entrepreneurs, who give us some tips on how to begin, market and maintain your business. Muneera and Zahrah’s marketing mix includes a how-to-guide on planning, managing, promoting and maintaining your business efficiently, ultimately allowing for your dream business to prosper!
Twenty-year-old Zahrah Perry manages her miscellanea online fashion & lifestyle store, called The Perry Book, while (also) twenty-year-old Muneera Karbary, who manages Touch of Heaven, bakes appetizing cakes, as well as runs regular cake-decorating workshops. In between being full-time students and trying to maintain a social life, these sassy and independent ladies take absolute pride in managing their thriving businesses. Certainly an inspiration to many similar aspiring individuals out there, Zahrah and Muneera share their business advice with us, and expand on how it’s helped them to become successful.
1. On STARTING their BUSINESSES:
Interestingly, both ladies’ businesses were initiated by unexpected thoughts, and they let their instincts guide them from there:
Zahrah on how it all began: “I’ve always ordered clothing online for myself, and people have always complimented me, asked me where I got it from, etc. and that’s when I had my ‘aha! moment.”
“I started with R1 000 (which I’d saved from working) and I bought a couple of pairs of shoes, and started selling it,” she explains. She then made a little bit of profit and saw that people are taking an interest, and started to advertise more products on her blog and Facebook page that she’d created. And from the shoes, she expanded into a fashionable range of clothing, accessories and bags. She is also a business student, and used The Perry Book to gain thorough practical experience. And, she was just 19-years-old at the time!
Muneera, on the other hand, stunned me by saying that she didn’t ever think of baking to sell: “One day my aunt attended a cake-decorating workshop, and I decided to tag along. It started as a hobby, and from there, it developed into a business.” For someone who didn’t bake regularly, she has surely come a long way. Having attended four cake-decorating workshops, Muneera considered expanding her baking into a business. The workshops lasts for three hours, and the classes are kept small so as to allow for individual attention. And she’s gone quite big – from baking for birthdays, to engagement parties and weddings, this little baking boffin is certainly doing well for herself.
2. Have FINANCIAL OBJECTIVES:
Muneera advises that if you do not have any financial obligations to fulfil, it is wise to invest majority of your profits. Currently operating her cake-decorating workshops from her mother’s kitchen, she decided that she wants to run the business on a long-term basis:
“I decided to invest everything, so that I can grow my business and eventually purchase better equipment for the workshop, as well as a bigger space so that more people can attend it (workshops).”
Zahrah’s main goal at the moment is to cover the cost of her university studies. She also believes in working on a budget system, e.g. she uses about three tanks of petrol for deliveries per month, and therefore makes it her fixed duty to work out her monthly petrol expenditure (on deliveries).
And, invest a bit of your profit for something beneficial that you might later need – Zahrah bought herself a good-quality camera, which helps her to market her products more efficiently: “I knew it would help the business in the long-term – it’s a little bit more professional,” she adds.
3. Expanding on having great CUSTOMER SERVICE:
Online stores are also considered risky to some internet users. Zahrah says: “people are wary of online shopping – there’s a fear of paying for a product and not receiving it, so I try to give them peace of mind every now and then by sending them tracking numbers, posting mass announcements on my social media accounts to let them know the delivery the status of the product, etc.” Good feedback from customers also helps a great deal, and Zahrah insists you make that known!
Muneera suggests that if it comes to baking big cakes, you meet up with the customer at least one week before the time to discuss the design, structure, etc. of the cake: “this will avoid any problems that may arise due to a misunderstanding or a lack of information extracted from the customer”.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
Muneera: Add a touch of finesse to your product – do not duplicate baking products you’ve seen elsewhere. Draw up a portfolio, which will help with the marketing of your business. Lastly, rather have a better quality-product at a higher price, as opposed to a cheap-quality product at a low price. Appearance is important, but quality and taste is even more crucial!
Zahrah: Be prepared to sacrifice your social life for work – sometimes I have sleepless nights and spend time replying to emails from customers. It can become very stressful, but at the end of the day, it’s all very rewarding!
Visit theperrybook.com to view Zahrah’s contemporary fashion, and ‘like’ Touch of Heaven on Facebook to view Muneera’s decadent cakes.