Serial entrepreneur Melissa Helmbrecht has earned dozens of humanitarian awards (many before she turned 18), is one of the youngest women to run for a U.S. House of Representatives seat, and grew a startup with two volunteers into a global organization with 100-plus strategic partners and 650,000 youth participants — all in less than a year.
Not bad for someone who flunked ninth and tenth grades.
With her latest endeavor, Splashlife.com, Melissa is building a community site that’s like the AARP for people under 30. Splashlife aims to serve as a resource and advocacy group for the rising generation of 75 million young Americans. Helmbrecht is one of 30 speakers at the DIY Business Association Conference in Brooklyn, NY on June 26, alongside Modcloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koger, Etsy Education Coordinator Danielle Maveal, and Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney.
Melissa and friends.
If you register for the conference before June 19, 2011, you’ll get the opportunity to enter Splashlife’s $1,000 “Best Idea” grant contest. And, best of all, if you enter “Etsy” during the final step of registration, you’ll save $14.
Today Helmbrecht shares three tips to take your Etsy business to the next level. First up is a little tough love, followed by the fun stuff.
Photo by hazelnutcottage
1. Do what you don’t feel like doing.
No one can match the love and passion Etsy sellers exude for the products they create. When I started my business, I spent most of my time focused on the aspects of my company that I truly loved and neglected the aspects that seemed boring or mundane. For example, I enjoyed meeting with people and talking about my idea. I hated locking myself in a room for hours to write a business plan. The result? I spent a year having great meetings without any plan to move forward. The first and most important thing every entreprenuer needs to do is to set aside time each day to focus on the aspects of building a business that aren’t any fun. Simply put, you must force yourself to do the things you don’t want to do.
It becomes even more difficult to develop this discipline when you’ve spent all night tossing and turning with a new product idea. You can develop all the products you want, but if you don’t spend some time planning, learning about your industry, networking, or any of the other critically important aspects of building your business, your business won’t grow.
Photo by sinansaydik
2. Blog and network
Market yourself and your craft by offering advice online in the form of a blog. Through a blog, you can build an audience that connects with you on a personal level. A blog provides a way to share what you love, express yourself, and connect with a broader audience. My company’s first website contained only a single sentence, my biography, and an email address.
A couple of months after I launched the website, I received a one-sentence email that said, “Please send more information.” After researching the person who sent it, I realized it was a well-known business icon who invests in start-up companies. Through dumb luck or serendipity, I had landed one of my first and most important business advisers. Put yourself out there so people can find you.
Photo by elmstudiosonline
3. Teach others
One of my good friends is an avid crafter. She makes original greeting cards, wedding invitations, stationery, etc. What started as a hobby has become a full-time career. One of the smartest things she’s done is hold workshops to teach others how to create their own personal cards and stationery. People flock to her classes, and she’s able to earn a living by talking about what she loves to do most. Charge people a fee for the lessons you offer. Let your workshops provide you with the income you need to do more of what you love.
Photo by Raven + Crow
Speaking of workshops, don’t forget to check out the DIY Business Association Conference on June 26th in Brooklyn!