I started with making products for myself or for my friends, however I quickly learned that it is not about me, it’s all about my customers. The customer really is king.
Make sure there is a clear need in the market and that people want to buy what you’re offering because without customers, your ‘business idea’ can quickly become a hobby or your products can end up in storage. And that’s okay…but not if your goal is to make a sustainable business.
The idea for Communicake It came about with a little luck, some good timing and a lot of hard work. I made something for a friend and it was her reaction that inspired me to keep on making this as a product for others.
Sales at the start were slow, I spent some time going to markets (yep, physical, weekend markets) and I continue to do this periodically. Getting out there and having conversations with potential buyers actually gives you the opportunity to hear from customers directly. Find how they use the product, ask them about price and listen to their feedback.
Sometimes customers have the best clues for your next creative adventure and sometimes they have interesting feedback and other times they just tell you the truth. Give yourself the chance to learn through research and your customers. It’s a continuous learning curve, so remember to do it often.
One interesting thing about going out to market, specifically with a new product, is that people may not understand what your product or service is. I had a few people ask me, ‘So what is it?’ which at first I was a little disappointed by but I soon realised that my product was something fresh and different. I realised that the market needed more education and while this was a challenge, it was also an opportunity.
Fast forward 3 years and there is an abundance of cake toppers available in the market, which is great for cake accessories as a trend, product demand and awareness.
Being at the markets, I also had a lot of reactions that along the lines of ‘Oh my birthday was last week, shame about timing’. Rather than being defensive and kicking myself that I wasn’t at the market last week to get that sale, I became open and curious about this feedback. I like to call this ‘gold digging’. Sometimes, something positive (gold) really can come from something that we first perceive to be negative, and this is where an opportunity lies for product refinement or new marketing opportunities. It can even spark new ideas.