A Few Things We've Learnt Whilst Trying To Build The Best Vegan Sweets Business.
When our virtual doors opened last year to our online shop, we couldn’t have imagined dealing with the amount of orders we are processing today. This post isn’t about us though, this is about sharing our experience to hopefully inspire the next wave of vegan entrepreneurs.
1. It really helps to be vegan
Of course you do not have to be vegan to have entrepreneurial qualities, but it really does help to understand the market. What better way to understand the vegan market and the things the typical customer tends to look for than to actually be part of the statistic yourself? Not only that, as a bonus point, people who are vegan generally get a kick from supporting vegan-owned businesses.
2. Pick something unique
A common problem, certainly one within vegan sweets is that there are too many people trying to do the same thing. When we first had the idea 2-3 years ago, there wasn’t a single vegan sweet business in sight. Flash forward to last year when we had saved up capital, invested in stock and technology then opened our store, there were three other competitors by this point. Already we are noticing (and are sure you do too) that a new vegan sweet company pops up on a weekly basis. Whilst we truly want to see every vegan business owner succeed, it’s very sad but true to say that they just aren’t going to compete. Certainly try pick something unique, or at least have something very unique about your business.
3. Forget 9-5
Having any business, especially in its early days is not a 9am – 5pm job. It’s nearer a 24 hour job, so you have to be prepared for that. One thing that we believe has contributed to our success is our ability to rapidly respond to queries all hours of the day, every day of the week (Saturday & Sunday included). The thing about vegans is that we’re very cautious what we put in our body. Naturally, we ask a lot of questions before eating something. How many times have you been there yourself in a restaurant?
“I know it says no dairy, but are you absolutely sure there is no cheese? It sounds like there is probably cheese. Please check there isn’t cheese. And can you ask the chef about milk too?”
It’s in our nature to ask questions. So now imagine you’re in the restaurant waiting for the chef to get back to you, but they don’t work weekends so you have to wait 48 hours for a response. You’re just going to go somewhere else.
4. Believe in your product
This one is short, sweet and common sense really. If you don’t believe in your product and probably wouldn’t buy it yourself, you might want to think about something else.
5. A picture really does paint a thousand words
If like us, you’re planning on selling something to eat or drink, you need to make it look mouthwatering. In fact if its a product of any kind, make sure it looks the part and that the product photos are taken professionally with a good camera (like a DSLR, not an iPhone). We’re not the best with a camera, but seeing some products advertised with pictures straight from a phone is in many cases cringe-worthy. We’re not snobs, but to make your product appealing you really do need to have the best photos.
6. Good customer service is probably the most important thing
Things will go wrong in your business. Sure you can put in measures to limit any mishaps but sometimes its just beyond your control. Take the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for example. No business has any real control over the speed of deliveries or the ability to effectively manage stock in this situation, but its how you keep your customers informed and manage their expectations which really makes a difference. Our customers have been extremely fair, reasonable and understanding with us during this strange time, and we have been the same with them. It’s the communication here that is pivotal to keeping customer relationships on track.
Remember that no matter what your idea, things will take a lot of hard work and a few set backs but try stay positive and focus on the good. When you start your working day feeling frustrated, this is bound to be reflected in the work you do. Try remember why you’re doing it and what good it brings.
And last but not least if you have any questions, even if they are not related to sweets, we are always here to listen and try help where possible.
Ryan & Emily
Innocent Sweets Co.