September 3, 2015

Hitting the D Spot: Customers and Delight

I have officially started my Creative Startups program - so get ready for some posts about business! Beyond Buckskin was selected as one of nine small businesses to participate in the Creative Startups business accelerator and I couldn’t be more pumped. Their mission is to accelerate the success of creative entrepreneurs and economies, and they believe in the power of arts businesses to create dynamic and prosperous communities. Yes!

I’m very excited for this opportunity because I currently work with over 40 Native American artists in a business setting, yet I have no business background. Ha. No, seriously, I’m trained as a professor, actually, and that was my career path until I made the wild and crazy decision to launch the Beyond Buckskin Boutique, and it took over my life (yay!).
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
I completely agree. I’m so happy that I took the plunge with the Boutique. And with Creative Startups, I’m given access to some great mentors, advisors, and cheerleaders. The program begins with a 6-week intensive online course focusing on the basics of business.
“The Virtual Accelerator course was built in partnership with Creative Startups by leading entrepreneurship faculty of Stanford University and is coupled with decades of experience working with creative entrepreneurs.” – Creative Startups
I feel so blessed to have access to such a high-rate course! (And I plan to share some great tidbits and morsels with you throughout the course!) We started last week with orientation – you know, the introductions and tutorials and what not. The first actual week of class, which we’re heading into, introduces us to entrepreneurship and innovation.
10 Lessons for Entrepreneurs:
1. It’s all about perseverance
2. Understand the value of mentorship and teamwork
3. Stick to your niche
4. Stay on top of news that affects your customers
5. Communication is key
6. Capitalization is crucial
7. Communicate unwavering honesty and integrity
8. Stay on top of the curve
9. Take ownership in your customers’ success
10. Never stop marketing
We are reading Gear Up by Ramfelt et al, and this book is great! It is very straightforward; easy reading with great examples and worksheets to help you strengthen your business or idea. If you are a creative entrepreneur, or you want to be a creative entrepreneur, I highly suggest that you snatch up this book asap. Read a couple pages in the evening – you’ll love it. Seriously.

Our first readings focus on the Customer – aka the whole point of having a business. Who is your customer? And, what problem are you solving for them? The book guides you through understanding potential and current customers. The book’s worksheets helped me to articulate who Beyond Buckskin is for, and how I can strengthen the Boutique to meet the needs of our customers. I already feel more confident in talking about the importance of BBB from a business perspective. By far the best moment in this chapter was when the authors forced me to think about crossing the chasm – aka breaking out of a mindset of smallness, to thinking BIG and envisioning exactly what that could look like. Exciting!

Our second chapter focused on Delight – your wow factor. After you’ve established who your customer is, what their needs are, and how to fill them, you have to go above and beyond. Look around – there’s a bunch of ‘me too’ businesses, where folks are all doing the same thing. What sets you apart? That is your delight.
"Focusing on Native American made clothing and accessories, Beyond Buckskin brings ancient designs, natural materials, and cultural stories to modern fashion." - Beyond Buckskin mission
Delight is KEY to standing out and shooting past your competition. Delight is all about innovation, not imitation. Yes there are lots of Native t-shirts out there, yes there are a lot of beaded earrings at powwows, yes you can buy a scarf with a Native print on it almost anywhere – don’t settle for what others are doing. Innovate – push it further. Add that political punch, that extra bling, that authentic family-held design, try new materials, new techniques and new venues. Rock it out!

Again, I'm so pumped for this business accelerator. I'm hoping that this helps me to push Beyond Buckskin to the next level, and I hope you guys can share the journey with me.