Many an entrepreneur has sank heart, soul, time and money into a dream business venture only to discover there is no paying market. Take the case of Michelle M., who had so much fun sharing miniature doll tips, patterns and resource links that she decided to open a pattern store.
Case Study: Little things mean a lot
Michelle researched her market and confirmed there was a tremendous interest in new patterns within that niche – something she knew already through being a member of a highly active sewing forum. But what she admits she didn’t research was:
- Would her market actually pay for patterns?
- How much would they be willing to pay?
- What other items do they typically buy, besides patterns? Were they currently shopping at online stores that offered patterns and more?
- How much of a market share could she realistically expect to command; and how much would that make in income and sales?
- How often did her ideal customers actually buy? Every week? Three times a year? Once in a blue moon?
Already being an established authority figure in her niche, she was able to generate interest quickly and actually sell some patterns, but not to the point of creating a viable business.
Since Michelle really wanted to work in that niche, she went back to the drawing board. Further research indicated a crying need for reliable miniature doll sewing supplies such as miniature trims, miniscule patterns, pleating boards, micro buttons and the like, as well as miniature kits and accessories for miniature dolls (e.g. wigs) and dollhouses (e.g. furniture). She researched online stores already selling these items, and made notes as to what was missing. Being a miniature doll expert, she was easily able to identify these gaps. She also read blogs put out by site owners and paid attention to what customers were asking for.
She then sourced out wholesale suppliers such as Alibaba.com, paying particular attention to “Search Feedback,” and making sure there were escrow-based payment arrangements.
She then calculated how much she could mark up these wholesale items, as well as how much her target market would pay. She then hired someone to set up a shopping cart and help with a stronger, more focused website design; and today, ten years later, she is going strong and making a steady income: “Not six figures, but just the way I like it, everything in balance.”
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