Last week, I was asked to be a guest speaker for one of my old college professors, Dr. Janice Petronis. Her junior level retail class at Tarleton State University in Stephenville Tx is studying multi-channel marketing, and she asked me to provide them with some context from my businesses’ perspective. I’m definitely not a speaker of any sort but I was happy to share my story since college students can relate to the fact that I was sitting in the same lecture hall seat not too long ago. Also, I was excited about getting their feedback on our website and marketing strategies.
As I prepared for the visit, I thought about just how far we’ve come in 10 years, and how scary it was starting out. I found pictures of our small apartment where we started, our first big Christmas shipments, and of pouring the slab of our warehouse. Having to tell my story and re-live the struggles of being a small business owner made me truly appreciate being able to live the American dream and own my own company. Besides all the theory and number crunching I learned in college, the truly valuable lesson I learned is that you have to go for it, even if you fail (and you most likely will a few times).
The students had some really great ideas, like bringing in more customer testimonials and product reviews, highlighting our clearance and ugly box categories, and using more pictures and videos to demonstrate products. Some of these ideas are already in the works and we are looking at implementing the rest of their suggestions soon. We discussed some of the software and integration issues that have to be considered when implementing new ideas. I think they were pretty interested in hearing about some of the behind the scenes infrastructure and technical requirements that go into running a web-based company. Store for Knowledge is celebrating its 10th year in business so there are a lot of stories, lessons learned, and ups and downs, especially with the economic situations our country is facing. From getting a small business loan to deciding which products to carry and not carry, to surviving the holiday rush, I now wish I would have started blogging from day one to track our story. But the visit to Dr. Petronis’ class gave me the chance to remember it, and the experience of visiting her class is now a part of the business’ story. I really did enjoy looking back to see the progress we have made in building our business and most importantly the relationships I have made over the years. The free consulting was pretty nice too.