BY SANDY MANN
THE JOYS OF WATCHING IT COME TO FRUITION ONE ORDER AT A TIME
As a small business owner pre-Covid, I primarily sold my products at local craft shows. I suddenly found myself with products but with no place to sell them. I then decided to open an Etsy shop. Turns out I wasn’t alone. According to nasdaq.com, sellers on Etsy increased from roughly 2.5 million in 2019 to 5.3 million by end of 2021.
During research for this article, I posted on an Eagle Facebook group in hopes of getting at least a couple of online business owners to interview. I was amazed at the response. Turns out there are many Eagle residents currently running their own online businesses.
What is our motivation? Overwhelmingly, the response I received is that we have a passion for what we are doing. Jason Hall, who operates Thoroughbred Review, not only has a passion for thoroughbred racehorses but also for living in Eagle. He says, “I’ve always wanted to work in the thoroughbred industry, but prior to the internet, you’d have to move to Kentucky to make a living, and I wasn’t willing to leave Idaho.” He’s now able to do 90 percent of his business online. Kelly Morton, owner and operator of Sock Envy LLC, has this advice, “Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing because the business side is hard.”
So if you have a passion for something and are willing to dig in and do the work, I’ve gleaned a lot of advice from several local proprietors, from teenagers on up, from newbies to seasoned, from sellers of products to service providers.
One of the biggest hurdles is fear of the unknown, of putting ourselves out there, of failing, of even succeeding and being able to keep up. Because of our fears, however, came the best words of advice. Nicole, owner of Nicole Hitchcock Visual Arts, has this advice, “Listen. Process feedback. Keep learning. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a big part of success.” In fact, Shelly Vannoy with P.S. Just Desserts adds to this idea, “Push through your own thoughts of doubt and negativity; it’ll get better.” Gwen Ryza, 14-year-old owner of Creation Journey, says that others being open with their successes and failures, however, has taught her valuable lessons in launching her online business late last year.
Love it or hate it, social media is key. On average, we spend around 20 percent of our time on social media. Gwen has found that the more active you are, the better. Kelly says that consistency is key, herself posting almost daily. Sara with Sara Mahy Photography says that being active lets people know who they are hiring. If you aren’t comfortable in this area, there are people like Amy Studer of Boise Boutique Social LLC with her online business that specializes in helping others run their social media.
When asked what is the most positive thing, overwhelmingly “freedom” was the answer. Kelly has the freedom to work around her chronic pain condition. Stefani Hodges of Charcutie Chicks says it best, “Freedom of time. Freedom to work the hours that fit our busy lifestyle. Freedom to choose.” For Amy, “working from anywhere at any time is ideal.”
If you’re thinking of opening your own online business, Andrea Estes, co-owner with her husband, Rick, of Family Wood Creations, says, “You’ll never be 100 percent ready. Do not give up the first moment it gets hard.” Jason adds, “Be willing to put in the work.” And Gwen wisely advises, “Give it some time and be patient.” No matter where you are in your process of owning your own online business, “You’re already ahead of people who are just now starting,” says Kelly.