Both Allen and Rodgers encouraged Salver to develop partnerships, not just with bloggers but professionals in finance and web design. Salver has also been looking for investors for seed money.
Having what Rodgers calls “trusted contacts” can really help a young business navigate those first steps. Both also suggested ways that Salver’s website could do more work for her by polling visitors for feedback.
“These polls kind of help you create focus groups and it’s free,” Rodgers explained.
Rodgers also created a spread sheet for Salver outlining her needs and tagging the issues she deemed critical.
Among the urgent needs: a business plan with detailed projections, accounting software for tracking expenses and income, an inventory tracking system and a website redesign and blog.
By creating a business plan, Rodgers explained, Salver can gauge and track the sales fluctuations that fill her with worry. Reviewing her projections monthly will let her direct sales efforts, Rodgers said. So, for example, if sales are low and inventory high, Salver can hold a clearance or discount sale. On the other hand, if inventory is low, she can take orders.
The day after their first meeting, Salver headed to Wynwood to look at store space. Two years ago she’d looked, and found prices too high. But she secretly hoped she could stage a pop-up shop in time for Art Basel. As it turns out, luck was on her side that day.
During her walk, she said she bumped into a Realtor who showed her one space that was too big. So she headed back to his office to consider other spaces and at the office met developer David Lombardi, a neighborhood pioneer who turned out to be childhood friend of her aunt’s.
“He said, ‘You’re family. Tell me what you want and what you need,’ and said, ‘I love supporting young businesses,’ ” she said.
Lombardi gave her a deal on a six-month lease for space at 215 NW 36th St. “that I couldn’t say no to.”
So Salver moved out of her apartment and back home with her parents, swapping her rent for lease payments, and is getting to work on opening the store this month. She got Quickbooks and up and running, and now can track not only her finances, but her inventory, which she links to her online sales.
“Before if I had two black dresses and sold one, my site didn’t automatically remove it. I would have to do it manually, so I was keeping inventory by hand,” she said. “It just saves so much time. She also has a Web designer redesigning her page. She hoped to launch both the store and the new web site at the same time, but realized she needed to focus on just one. And since her current site is doing its job, she chose to focus on the store.
Taking advice, she now concedes, wasn’t always easy, particularly when it involves something as precious as a first business. But allowing herself to admit she needed help, she said, has made a world of difference.
“It’s great to be able to talk to people who are professionals in different areas because they raise ideas I never would have thought of, and their ideas spiral into other ideas,” she said. “You have to be open to it. If you’re going to pretend everything is in order, you’re not going to get anywhere.”