If you’re looking for a little launch-your-own-business inspiration, Australian entrepreneur Gretta Rose van Riel offers it in bucketloads (or mugfuls if we’re being literal!).
The founder of Skinny Me Teatox, as well as global watch brand The 5th; innovative drink device Drop Bottle; DIY home clay kits Claytime and Hey Influencers – the world’s first network for brands and online identities, made the transition from influencer to empire builder and netted herself multi-millions in the process.
Want to know the tricks that have seen her build five brands in five years, gather 16 million followers spread across different social channels and earn the kind of cash that’s definitely our cup of tea? Pull out the Tim Tams and pour yourself a (Skinny Me) Tea and read on …
You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to start!
For Gretta, who founded her first start-up at the age of 22 with just $24 dollars in her personal bank account, the transition from coining the term “Teatox”, to transforming it into a profitable business idea was quicker than, well, waiting for the kettle to boil! In fact, she had set up her website within 24-hours of deciding on a brand name!
“I’ve always been quite communication-driven, so, I got up the next morning, and it was a weekend, and I made my Shopify store in that day, and we launched for sales on … I think it was a Monday, and we sold four packs of tea to people that I didn’t know at all, which was really exciting,” she says
Now we’re definitely not suggesting you jump headfirst into your venture without a little foresight. There’s certainly something to be said about building a smart branding strategy to start.
But we do believe you should back yourself. Plan responsibly, take a leap of faith, and surround yourself with experts and a supportive community who will be there when shiz hits the fan and you end up in hot water.
People over product
One of the lessons we loved re-learning the most from Greta was that Audience is > than Product.
“I think that having an audience of 16 million has taught me that … More so the importance of audience over product, potentially … I think that it’s about finding your audience, growing and establishing your audience, and then developing a product. The idea is that if the market comes before the product, you might focus on the market first, just chronologically,” says Gretta.
It’s a message that resonates with The Luxe Co’s own approach to building your brand story, where we make your customers the hero.
“It’s a pretty important point to understand – and one we work on really nailing for our clients,” says our own Creative Director Tina. Because when you figure out “who they are and what they want” you can really show them “how your product or service can help them get there.”
Social media strategy: (Tea) Drop it like it’s hot
Social media is sticking around, and using it as part of your overall business marketing planning shows no signs of slowing down – for good reason. It works!
For Gretta, the proof is in the pudd… err.. pot, with her SkinnyMe Tea growing its social presence from zero to 600K followers/month in under six months!
So how can you make your socials stand out? One of Gretta’s biggest tips is to build your audience around their interests.
“I would think like, who is my demographic? And all my friends were really interested in the Teatox, so I’d follow all of them, and I’d follow all of their friends, and then I’d follow someone from a different city and then follow them and all of their friends until I seriously felt like I’d followed every single girl around my age in Melbourne and Sydney.”
And be consistent with your engagement. “It was just interacting with the audience non-stop,” she adds.
Beyond the ‘gram, Gretta is also active on Facebook and we think she’s definitely onto something good. “They’ve done something really smart cultivating this kind of micro-communities through groups, and Facebook groups are just such a huge opportunity right now for everyone,” she adds.
And don’t forget to give LinkedIn a little love too! “You create a group of like-minded people from within your niche, just see the people that are also posting and getting great engagement that you follow already, and then you just approach them and you can create a group together.”
Ultimately, according to Gretta, your aim should be to find different ways to diversify your database of customers, or leads.
“For example, because Instagram can change their algorithm, they can delete your account, you don’t own that data yourself. [Similarly] email open rates are going down and down over time. So, it’s just about getting where the most eyes will be.”
A-knowledge your customers
We get it. No one is going to buy the cow if you give the milk away for free. But don’t be afraid to share a little bit of what you know if you want a lot more people to turn to you and find it.
Authentic and open, Gretta is willing to offer her knowledge in the form of YouTube videos and free eCommerce training courses, but anything that delivers added value to your customers is likely to work.
Use your platforms to create unique content such as ebooks, blog posts, podcasts, webinars, or even just great Instagram posts.
As well as positioning you as an authority in your space, customers who feel they are receiving bang for their buck, are the ones that will keep coming back for more!
Own your ego and move on from your mistakes
While everyone would like to imagine their foray into business ownernish is all about the butterfly life, more often than not you’ll probably be channeling “ugly little caterpillar” vibes.
According to Greta, the trick to keep on keeping on, when your plans look more like the right half of an Instagram v reality meme is to cut your losses as quickly as possible.
“You need to just be like, ‘Okay, well that was terrible,’ and then just come up with whatever you can see as a solution. Even if sometimes that solution is just getting over it and not thinking about it again!” she says.
According to Gretta, taking too long to get over your losses will slowly but surely pull your resistance down.
“I’ll do everything … cry, and be like super upset for a couple of hours, or even a whole night sometimes. Like one day is the longest mourning period that I allowed myself to have. But then the next day I get up and I’m kind of like newly inspired again. It’s kind of chaos theory stuff, like, you know, what goes down must come up, type of thing, rather than the other way around.”
At The Luxe Co, we like to say: Remember if one door closes, you can always just open it up again. ’cause that’s just how they work, friends!