Ask these 3 questions before starting a small business

Having an idea that you believe could become a profitable business can bring a rush of excitement. But there are a few important things to consider before you jump the gun, according to entrepreneur and beauty content influencer Jackie Aina.

Aina, who has amassed more than 10 million social media followers combined across platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, is the co-founder and co-CEO of Forvr (pronounced forever) Mood, a fragrance company boasting an array of candles and perfumes. Forvr Mood products can be found in Sephora stores nationwide, and sell direct-to-consumer via their website.

Aina launched the company in 2020 alongside her fiancé, Denis Asamoah, who says they self-funded the brand. Forvr Mood sold $700,000 worth of products within the first four hours of its launch, the company told Women’s Wear Daily.

In a recent YouTube interview on “Elite Talks with DeAndre Brown,” Aina said that aspiring business owners should ask themselves these three questions before getting started:

  1. Is this something I would do even if it wasn’t a business?
  2. Why should [a customer] stop using the product/service they already have?
  3. What void are you filling?

Passion projects vs. passion projects cash grab

Question one gets to the root of whether your idea is something you actually enjoy doing or if it’s just a means of making money, Aina explained. If the latter is true, you may find it hard to stick with as time goes on.

“I’m a fragrance girl through and through,” she said. “And when we started Forvr Mood, we started with candles and I was like, if [customers] are not here for it, I will be burning these candles by myself. We’re just going to have a lifetime supply of candles [and] that’s honestly good enough for me.”

Still, just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean it’s a good business idea in and of itself. Take a page out of billionaire Mark Cuban’s book and pursue something that you also consider a strength: Cuban was once passionate about baseball, but later “realized I had a 70-mile-per-hour fastball,” he says in the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series.

Ultimately, being a good salesman with a passion for technology put him on a path to becoming a billionaire.

Beating the competition

Another factor that hinders many small businesses is competition. Think about how many local coffee shops you pass on your commute to work every day, for example. Even with a solid business model, it can be difficult to stand out in a sea of ​​competitors.

When Aina got the idea for her candle brand, she noticed that a lot of higher-end candles were “designed masculine,” she said. Understanding that people “shop with [their] eyes,” she decided to launch a candle that had pastel colors and gold detailing.

She sells her full-size candles for between $38 and $42, a sweet spot between cheaper candles on the market and higher-end options that can cost well over $100, she says.

Spotting a void your product can fill

Lastly, understand what niche you want to fill, and what makes you different, can help your company stand out. Maybe you make catchy TikToks to help build brand awareness and reach younger consumers, for example, or you use only natural ingredients in your handmade products.

Your answer to question three will help you shape your marketing and advertising efforts and create a strong mission statement, according to Aina.

While Aina created her product to be enjoyed by everyone, she specifically wanted to appeal to Black women, who are largely under-represented in the luxury fragrance and beauty industry, research has shown.

“I knew I really wanted to center Black women being taken care of at the forefront, because that’s something that I didn’t really see a lot,” Aina said.

That idea of ​​self-care for Black women is a focus of Forvr Mood from a product standpoint, and Aina added that she tries to be “really intentional” about furthering that message on social media.

However, even with the opportunity to fill a void in the market, Aina said she was still careful not to set her expectations too high. “I honestly didn’t realize it was going to take off the way that it did,” she said.

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