Starting A Business In 2022

Catherine Langman:

Well, hello there. Welcome to 2022, Catherine Langman here. This is the first episode of the new year, and I’m super excited to welcome you back to the show. And so we’re in January, January, 2022. Look, I think that many of us are still kind of trying to figure out what we are going to be doing this year, what goals we’re going to be setting, how are we going to get there? Many of you are probably also actually gearing up to launch your new business. And so I’m going to be dedicating the next few episodes to planning and how to actually figure out what the heck we’re going to be doing this year and how we’re going to get there. And in the first episode of the year, I figured I would start with what I would do myself if I started my business over again in 2022. And in fact, this is kind of a reality. So I am helping one of my sons, his name is Hamish, and he is just turned 15, and he has been working on a product that he’s going to be launching this year with my help.

And of course, I’m pretty sure he expects me to invest in this new venture of his. But we are working on this as a serious venture. So I’m going to actually share with you some of the steps that he has already been through, and what we will be doing next. And I’m going to kind of check in with you throughout the year as well. And just kind of use this as a little bit of a case study, and let you all know how I’m going about this and how things are going. Because why not, right? Now, I know for a fact that there has been a continued massive growth in eCommerce businesses over this past year. People continue to flock to this business model in droves, partly of course, because it’s the way that we’ve had to largely shop since the advent of COVID-19, but also I’m definitely seeing a lot of people wanting to create products, create brands, set up online stores because they want to do things on their own terms.

And not stick with jobs that they don’t enjoy or that they don’t feel they’re being appreciated in, or don’t have good flexible conditions or whatever the case may be. So it is something that is continuing to grow. And I do think it’s really exciting to see people creating their own brands, creating their own products, setting up their own eCommerce stores. And I’m here to help you. I’ve got years worth of blogs and podcasts and courses and services dedicated to helping all of you who are trying to build successful businesses of this kind. So I’m cheering for you, right? But I’m also seeing that there are people not doing so well. Sometimes people are failing, and it’s not because they don’t have a great idea for their product. And it’s not because of a lack of opportunity, but it’s just a few knowledge gaps perhaps, and maybe a few missing pieces of the puzzle.

And so that’s really what this episode is designed to help you with. So let me tell you a little bit about my son Hamish. So he’s just finished year nine at school, at high school. And in the last semester of 2021, he was doing a subject unit on entrepreneurship. I didn’t even know that he’d signed up for that, but there you go. So this is my second of three kids. So Hamish decided that he wanted to take this quite seriously. I think most of the kids were just kind of coming up with dummy ideas that they were using for the sake of the academic exercise, but Hamish was taking this quite seriously. And he has come up with this idea for a particular sports supplement product that he would like to have for himself. So he is a elite swimmer for his age. He swims at national level. He trains about 18 to 20 hours a week.

So he’s putting a lot of physical effort in, he does also take good care of himself from a nutritional point of view so that he has the energy to do it all and not fall asleep at school and all of that kind of stuff. And of course, he also was asking me a lot of questions throughout this particular project. It was quite interesting. He’s been a bit cheeky I have to say, he was texting me sometimes from school when he was in this subject asking me questions, “How do I do this? How do I do that?” And he probably shouldn’t have been doing that. I don’t think his teacher would’ve been overly happy to know he was texting mum, but anyway, so here are the initial steps that he has gone through.

And so the first thing that he did of course, was to come up with this product idea. And like many productpreneurs, inventors, it started with something that he needed for himself, or that he needs for himself. And then, obviously he’s gone from there, but what I would say for anybody else who needs to start from the beginning and is trying to figure out what product they’re going to create. Sure, absolutely look at things that you need to solve a problem for yourself. That is a great place to start. But the other thing that I really want more people to think about when they are creating new products is in terms of the business model, what kind of product is going to do really, really well? So for myself, number one, I want to be looking for a product that is going to be used up and needs to be replenished.

And I’m saying this very carefully because I’m not an advocate for plain old consumerism in a way that is going to be environmentally damaging. I am a bit of a greeny, and I want to be reducing my own eco footprint as much as possible. However, a product that people only need to buy once, and it will last 100 years is going to be quite difficult to make an economically viable business out of. So something that is going to be used up and needs to be replenished works exceptionally well from an eCommerce business model perspective. I also want to be using or creating a product that has margins and demand that allow a dual sales channel model. So you’ve got the full priced eCommerce retail sales, and then wholesale as well. So the ability to sell it profitably into other retail stores. So those two things are important considerations.

The next thing that I really want to be considering from a logistical perspective is how big is it? How bulky is it? How heavy is it? And how hard is it going to be to pack and ship orders? So in my first business, I had a really bulky product, and people bought lots of them. And so they were pretty expensive to post the orders out. The current climate that we’re living in right now, shipping costs a lot. It’s one of the biggest expenses in an Ecommerce business model. And I would prefer to be quite cautious on that side of things. So a small, compact type thing that’s not going to be tricky to pick and pack or expensive to ship out orders is something that I want to be thinking of there. Hopefully it goes without saying that I also want to be thinking up products that have the opportunity to be sustainably produced.

Part of that is from a waste perspective throughout the production process, but also the packaging and all of that kind of stuff. And where possible, made locally in this country. And again, this is because the landscape really has changed since COVID, and I’ve got so many clients who are still manufacturing offshore. I mean, let’s face it. Most product categories don’t have onshore manufacturing in Australia, but it is increasing again now, but those who are manufacturing offshore do have struggles to get product shipped in and through borders. Freight from offshore is incredibly expensive at the moment. And it’s actually scarce. It’s quite difficult to actually book a boat to get your stuff on and get it through. And then we’ve had problems at customs with strikes and things like that. So where possible, manufacturing in Australia. So those are a few conditions for me at the moment.

So anyway, Hamish came up with his product idea first, based on his own personal need. And fortunately it actually ticks all of those boxes there that I just mentioned. So the next thing that I got Hamish to do is to essentially do some competitive research. And really looking at the landscape that he would be operating in. What kinds of products and brands are already on the market, and I was really getting him to go through the exercise of identifying what all of those main competitors are. And when I’m saying competitors, obviously, if you are going to be creating a product that enters into that product category in the marketplace, yours would be different and better in some way. And it’s tempting to think that therefore, those other options on the market aren’t really direct competitors.You can’t think of it in that way. You need to think of it in the way of customers who have the same problem might buy this item. Does that make sense?

So Hamish went about the process of identifying a whole bunch of competitors that are on the market in Australia, but he was also looking at overseas just to really see what some big players were there as well. And what the points of difference, he was looking at things like the ingredients, the branding, the pricing, who might the target audience be, what were the features and benefits that were unique to each product and brand, and kind of mapping them out a little bit on a scale, and working out what the gaps there and how could he create his brand in a way that is going to be meeting a gap in that market, essentially. And, fortunately, there is a gap in the market for what he’s creating. So that’s a really good thing.

And this is actually a step that I think a lot of small business owners miss, it’s very tempting to think that because I need it and I want it, therefore, a lot of other people will as well, without necessarily working out what’s actually out there. What might other customers be considering your thing against. How can you be different or better than those competitors? And then I guess that kind of moves into the next couple of points, like who is the target audience? And being very, very clear about who that is. So for Hamish, he’s going after young athletes, competitive athletes, I’ll delve into this a little bit more in just a second. And so he’s very clear about who his target audience is. There probably would be one or two similar sorts of products that are, I don’t want to say similar, but there are products that target his particular target audience, but not many. And he would be doing things in a different way.

So really being clear about who that target audience is and what products or brands they might be attracted to. And there are going to be differences in that target audience. There’s going to be people who always want the budget cheap option. There’s going to be people who always want the best quality option and are willing to pay for it. You’ve got to be super clear about who that target audience is, and where you might reach them from that competitive landscape. I’ve seen numerous times where there’ve been brands or products that have been launched by people who want to provide high quality products at a cheap price. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say those two are not congruent. People just don’t believe a product is high quality if it’s at a budget price.

Anyway, moving on. So branding is the next thing that I got Hamish to think about. He hasn’t resolved a logo or any of the branding design yet, but here’s what he’s done so far. He has gone through a brand name process. He found this extremely challenging, despite the fact that even though he is a 15-year-old boy, and it’s uncommon for 15-year-old boys to be avid readers, he is, and he’s good with words. But he definitely struggled with this. And I guess it is quite a unique exercise to do with words. However, he did ultimately find a brand name that he felt communicated what he was all about, and what he wants the brand to represent, and to, I suppose the, how do I phrase this? He really wanted to convey a certain feeling and image in his target customer’s mind with the name. And so he feels like he’s achieved that.

And then I actually got him to go through the motion of searching the trademark database on IPAustralia.Gov.AU. I also got him to search for the business name. So you can do business name lookups. I also got him to search whether the social media handle would be available on all of the platforms that he would want to use. So he did all of that. It was very funny. It was like a Monday morning. He’s texting me again from his classroom. And he said, “Mom, it’s available as a trademark. Shall I register it?” And I didn’t get his text message until later. And then five minutes later he messages back and says, “Don’t worry about that mom. It’s like $250.” And I just thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, so he did all of that. So that was pretty amazing. And then the next part of course, about developing the branding side of things is of course, to start working with a designer. And he’s very fortunate that he has an auntie who is a professional designer, she’s been in the gig for 20 something years. So of course, he’s going to try and take advantage of her expertise and get some free design work done. And he has prepared his very first design brief, trying to instruct her on what the product is all about, who the audience is, and what he would like her to design for him, which would be logo and packaging. So I’m going to read this to you because, bear in mind, this kid is 15. He’s never done this exercise at all before. He’s never had to write a design brief before. And so this is what he came up with.

First heading is product. The product is an electrolyte powder that mixes with water to create a healthy and tasty drink to help with energy and recovery for athletes. The product will come in a small sachet that will showcase the name, logo, slogan, and all the nutritional information. Sachets will be packed in a larger box that will be styled similarly to the sachets with color logo and name. The sachets will be compostable, which will need to be clear on the individual sachets. The brand name is blah, I’m not going to give that away, which I would like to be represented with the logo icon on the sachets and boxes. If possible too, incorporate the brand name in the logo, the colors should be standoutish and recognizable, but also represent energy or power to fit the theme of an electrolyte energy drink.

Target audience is the next heading. The target audience are athletes from the ages of 13 to 25, which is an age range that includes athletes that are becoming serious about sport and ages through high school and university athletes. The electrolytes aren’t sport-specific, but will be more targeted to competitive athletes as a way to improve faster than the competition. The problems that athletes face are soreness, fatigue, and maintaining high energy levels throughout long trainings and competitions. There aren’t many products on the market that are healthy. So athletes use unhealthy options like Gatorade, which ends up not helping enough.

Next heading he has is look and feel. I want to go for a neon retro feel for the product with a fluorescent color scheme to create an aura of energy, while also standing out. The colors should sit on a black base to bring out bright colors, similar to neon lights. I want the logo to be minimalistic and incorporate the brand name in the logo. And then he goes on. He shows an example, a simplistic logo and contrasting gray to white is similar to what I want my brand to look like. I also like the hard square corners, which gives it a stronger look. This is actually an important point here. Showing visual examples to a designer is very helpful because they are visual people. So he goes on, the icon is an easy to use and recognizable symbol, and doesn’t take up much space, leaving room for branding underneath. To differentiate from other brands, I would use harder hitting colors like neon on black and the color would match the flavor like they’ve done.

So this is the example he’s shown. So lemon equals yellow, raspberry, red, et cetera, but I would take up more space in the accenting and will be broader. And he goes on and on. So, he’s given a few different examples here. At the end, he says, Kyle Chalmers, if no one knows who he is, you’re clearly not a swimmer. He’s an Olympian. Would be a good face of the brand as he stands out as a well known athlete internationally, as well as standing out in an individual sport so he doesn’t fade into the background as just another AFL or soccer player, which I had to laugh at. I mean, it’s true, but yes. Anyway, so there you go. That’s an example there of briefing a designer. And I will say that if you are creating your own brand or your own online store, and you really want to set this up to succeed long-term, one of the things that I would spend money on early on, particularly if you are creating your own brand, and making your own products is this branding design work.

Other things you can DIY really, really easily, but it’s very difficult to present your product as being a very professional quality product that does what it says on the can if it’s clearly done by someone who’s not skilled in visual communication. So this is probably one of the things that I would spend money on at the start. Not probably, it is. All right. So moving on, product development I guess is going to be the next thing. So we have, or Hamish has researched manufacturers where he can make this in Australia. So that’s very, very cool, and they are going to help, actually, we have another friend who hopefully is a professional in the area of formulating these sorts of supplements. And so she will be creating the formula, which is fantastic. And then, obviously we’re going to be having it custom manufactured for us and having it packaged the way we want, thanks to the look and feel that the designer will create, et cetera, et cetera. And in this process as well, we will be working with a IP lawyer to protect both the branding and also the formula.

So if you are making anything where you are creating your own formulation, so it could be skincare, it could be makeup, it could be supplements, whatever the case may be. But if there’s a formula, you need to make sure that you actually have that protected, because I’ve unfortunately had a couple of clients who missed that step, and the manufacturer knew it, and they did the dirty on them and ripped it off. And because they had the funds and the distribution channels, they were able to recreate the same product, similar brand, and just kill off the original, which is heartbreaking. So you do need to try and take that step if you can, at least, at the very least trademark your branding and trademark your formula.

All right. Now, so that’s kind of where we’re up, but also that’s where we’re up to with Hamish. But also I will say he’s actually of his own volition started to work on how he is going to build up an audience for this new brand, and how he’s going to start marketing it. And this actually doesn’t come from me, despite what I do for a living. It comes from the sporting arena that he spends so much time in. So he’s actually already worked out a couple of people who, in fact, he’s already lined up a couple of elite athletes who are going to be his brand ambassadors. So he’s worked that out himself, not all swimming. And so he has a couple of brand ambassadors already lined up to be faces of the brand, which is fantastic. And, by doing that, essentially, he’s suggesting he’s going to be sponsoring them.

So obviously he plans to gift them some of this product to use in return for some imagery, some content from them, and just that endorsement, which does give a brand or a product like this credibility, which will be really useful for him to really get traction. He knows that he’s going to need to do things like create a website. He knows that there will be other efforts required for marketing. And I am actually going to suggest if you are at that point as well, where you’re trying to gear up to launch, that you probably should go and listen to episode 51. So you go to, which is the episode that I recorded at the start of 2021 on the similar topic of what I would do if I started a business again this year. A little bit different, well that episode was quite different because I was really talking, I guess, about the practicalities of what marketing you might use to launch, what you don’t need to spend money on, and what you should be doing. So go and have a listen to that one as well.

But at the end of the day, you can definitely DIY something like a website initially. If you’ve got great looking branding already, use that, you’ll know what colors to use, you’ll have the logos. Hopefully you can also have some imagery, whether you do your own photo shoot or like what Hamish intends to do, work with a couple of brand ambassadors and get some imagery that way, both video and still images. And buy yourself a really decent theme for Shopify, spend a couple of hundred bucks doing that, and then teach yourself how to set up your first website. At the end of the day, you have to expect that over the years, you will need to get multiple new websites in the course of your business’s lifetime.

So the first one you might as well do it yourself and at least learn the ropes. Learn how to actually set it up. How do you put your images in there? How do you connect payment methods? How do you connect your fulfillment side of things, setting up the store side of things, what content. Thinking about what content needs to go on there, all of that kind of stuff. It’s useful to go through the exercise so that you have an idea and you start thinking about these things as you’re doing it. Down the track, you will need to redo it. You probably want to get some professional help then, but you don’t need to spend lots and lots of money on getting a professionally designed and constructed website initially, particularly if this is your first business. So that’s something that Hamish knows that he’s going to be doing at some point in the year.

And then, absolutely focusing on building an email list and a database of contacts. Most likely it’s going to be a database of SMS for SMS marketing, as well as email marketing. Again, I go into this in a lot more detail in episode 51. So I’d highly encourage you to read that, read, well you can read the transcript actually, or listen to that particular episode. So, what’s transpired really in the last year with changes brought to the digital world by Apple, updates to their operating system that have really changed the way user data is protected, is more private. So digital marketers like me, and like you, if you’re operating an online business, we can’t track as much data on our audience anymore. And it impacts our ability to have as much detail on the metrics of our various different marketing platforms that we use, whether it’s Facebook ads or whether it’s email marketing or whatever doesn’t mean that all of that marketing isn’t working for you, and there are different ways that we can analyze and understand perform these days, for sure.

But main point I’m trying to make here is that we cannot allow other platforms like Facebook and Instagram, or like Google, any one platform to be the only way that we connect with our audience, because we literally and simply do not own our audience on those other platforms. If it’s an audience on Facebook or Instagram, then Mark Zuckerberg owns those audiences. We can tap into them and use them. And that’s extremely useful for sure, but we don’t own them that way. If we want to own them, and we should, because it’s such an asset in our business. We must have that, and we must own that customer first data. Then we need to build a database of subscribers and customers. And we do that using a platform like Klaviyo. And so that’s what Hamish will need to learn how to do next as well. Now, of course, him being the generation that he is, he’s not likely to be using Facebook. He doesn’t even have a Facebook account, but most likely he’ll be using Instagram and TikTok I would expect as platforms to be marketing on and connecting with his audience.

And then of course he will be needing to invite those people over onto his website and onto his Klaviyo database. So subscribing to his email list and to his SMS list. So that will be down the track this year as well. And like I said at the start of the episode, I will start to report back throughout the year. I’m not entirely sure how quickly that this will get off the ground, because of course he will be going into year 10 at school. And he’s still swimming a crazy number of hours a week, but he is incredibly passionate and dedicated to this project. I don’t think I saw him do as much homework or put as much effort into any other project from school over the last year than he did with this one. So it’s very, very exciting.

So there you have it, that’s what we are going to be doing to get things moving. And I hope you found that interesting and hopefully a little bit useful. At the end of the day, I think biggest takeaway here is that you need to be very clear on a few things at the outset. So you really need to be very clear on who your ideal customer is, and where your brand fits in the competitive landscape, and how you are going to connect the two, if that makes sense. That equation comes into everything that you’re going to do. It comes into everything from, product development, to branding, to where and how you’re going to sell it, just online, or is it online and wholesale, or how are you going to be marketing it? What is going to be engaging to your customer audience and give them the right impression that you want to give them so that they understand your brand and your product is the way that you want to portray it. the positioning in the marketplace what’s different and better than the competition, and all of that good stuff.

So there you go, hope that’s been helpful. Now, of course this kind of marketing side of things is everything that we do in our product premier marketing agency as well. And of course our courses and coaching options, if you’re a little bit earlier stage, are great options to get some help, if you need to learn how to do some of this early stage and get your business off the ground. So depending on what stage of business that you’re at and what sort of help that you feel like you need, you can head on over to and booking a free strategy session with us. Or of course, please make sure that you join our free rockstar Productpreneur community. There’s plenty of help to get you started in there as well. So all you need to do for that to join that group is to head to