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'Don't take no for an answer. Be like a child with no fear'

'Don't take no for an answer. Be like a child with no fear'
 

Posted: Fri 12th Mar 2021

Suzette McDowell enjoyed a successful four years selling her vegan shea butter body products at Covent Garden Market in London, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was forced to focus her efforts online.

The entrepreneur shares the story of Shea-Me and how passion and a drive to succeed has been vital.

She also explains how a Bootcamp from the Amazon Small Business Accelerator gave her the tips she needed to start selling her products on Amazon's online store.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.

If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

How did you get your business started?

I was doing this quite a long time before it became commercialised by giving products to friends and families but back in 2015, when I used to work in London and the commute was two to three hours, one day I thought "you know what, I'm going to start doing it properly." I had enough of a customer base to sell to friends and friends of friends and I also decided to become a market trader.

I didn't really think about the consequences of quitting a full-time job, I just went for it. When you have a passion, it overtakes everything and you push all the boundaries to get things done.

I already had the testing certification and I got a trademark plus all the other business registrations I needed. If I was going to do it, I wanted to do it properly.

I built my first website from scratch using Wix and I started networking. From talking to people in business and the legal profession, I got ideas, asked questions and became more knowledgeable. I didn't have the money to pay for services. Networking became my life.

I did a lot of vegan  events all over the country including in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. Also, a year after going full time, I secured a pop-up at Covent Garden Market in London. I was there for four years until COVID-19 came along.

What did you do to respond to the challenges of COVID-19?

Most of my income used to come from markets but with markets closed, I focused on my online activities.

I use social media to demonstrate the products  and talk about the benefits of my products. People want to know about the person behind the business so although I'm a private person, I sometimes talk about the impact of menopause on me, what it does to the body and the importance of using natural products on your skin.

Shea-Me products

Why did you decide to apply for the Amazon Small Business Accelerator Bootcamp?

I subscribe to Enterprise Nation and I saw it in an email. I don't have a business degree so I'm always looking for ways to learn and hear from others about their experiences.

What were the benefits of the Bootcamp?

Before the Bootcamp, I thought that Amazon was for people who already have an established name and it involves lots of costs.

The Bootcamp was really useful because it gave me a foundation for selling on Amazon. It gave me ideas for what I should do and what I shouldn't do.

It gave me lots of tips for how to register for selling on Amazon and how to list my products. After the Bootcamp, I listed my products on Amazon.

I'm now focused on using social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, to make people aware that I'm on Amazon and drive the sales.

What are your tips for business success?

Here are my tips:

  • I mentioned it before but you've got to have passion. That's what you need to drive your business forward.

  • Don't take no for an answer. At the start, I was like a child with no fear. I would write emails, make phone calls and get a no so I'd turn up with my sample products to show them my passion.

  • Always learn from the steps you take and listen to what other people say about their business experiences.

  • Do as much networking and training as you can. Look to see what free networking events there are in your local area. You'll meet so many people and someone will have an answer to your questions.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.

If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

 
 

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