To commemorate Women’s History Month, Spark Business® IQ is shining the spotlight on women who run successful businesses. Throughout March we’ll showcase stories and insights into how these savvy professionals have met and maintained their growth goals.
How Sandy Abrams Helps Entrepreneurs Grow Their Businesses
Sandy Abrams didn’t have any formidable business experience. What she had was a bright idea for a product and the determination to follow through with it. So in 1993, she launched her beauty business, Moisture Jamzz.
As a parent of two, Abrams describes her early days in business as a balancing act. But somewhere between pushing strollers and setting up booths, her company managed to connect with clients ranging from local mom-and-pops to big-name brands like Estée Lauder™, Bath & Body Works®, Bare Escentuals, Bed Bath & Beyond and H2O+™.
With Moisture Jamzz operating successfully, Abrams moved to expand her business skills in manufacturing and managing profits and losses. Her self-taught education in building her business led her to create “Your Idea Inc.,” a resource for first-time entrepreneurs eager to follow their passions and paths to success. Currently, she focuses her attention on small business consulting.
Sandy Abrams chatted with us to share the evolution of her success, including how her holistic, modern approach to marketing has helped her grow her business and her advice for other successful business owners looking to take their business to the next level.
How has being a women business owner and now thought lead and influencer, helped you develop and nurture your career?
The two biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs is finding financing and confidence. Often, they just don’t feel confident enough because they see that it’s men who are getting the better financing. You have to keep moving forward and utilize what many women have that many men don’t: an ability to nurture relationships. After almost 25 years in business, I still have relationships with the first people that I worked with as I built the business.
There is also a great deal of support that’s available now through community and national entrepreneurial groups. There are lot of opportunities to reach out to someone that you admire and ask for some sort of mentorship. If women want help, women should actively seek it out, network, connect and, again, build relationships by bringing value.
What challenges do you see with business that are looking to grow, and how do you help them maneuver through those challenges?
It’s important to have a weekly strategy session, often with yourself as a solopreneur. Setting new goals and making new lists every week will help with the bootstrapping process. You have to be savvy with the resources you have. The internet has allowed us to have amazing reach at a very affordable price, so it’s about a slow, steady, holistic approach to marketing. Both product- and service-based business need to offer consumers a user experience that is engaging, and that speaks to a consumer’s pain points.
Have you found that more advanced businesses are also more stuck in their ways, and if so, how do you show them the benefit of this holistic approach?
Yes, I frequently see reluctant social media progress but entrepreneurs begin to see the benefit when they start engaging with their customer base. It’s not about just pushing out information; it’s about relationship building. Storytelling has become the new marketing, and it requires engagement. That’s the tipping point for many small or big brands. A business can transform itself by listening to what their customers want and need. Even though you’re at a computer, you are talking to human beings and they want to be heard.
How do you see a holistic user experience for a business?
It’s painting the bigger picture to find the whole concept of what’s best for a brand. So, if you’re not doing email marketing, you’re probably missing out on some segment of your customer base. With so many components of digital marketing today, entrepreneurs usually find what works best and stick with that for a while. Once they master a platform, they can add it others and begin to diversify. Everything has to be accessible and efficient from different touch points. This leads to an overall satisfying experience for a consumer from several different platforms.
How do you go about making social media and digital marketing less intimidating?
One of my friends says that we have to allow ourselves to be beginners at things. I come across entrepreneurs who are afraid of Twitter and say, “I don’t have anything clever to say, and I’m not funny.” I’ve heard so many excuses, and you don’t have to be funny or entertaining. You just have to be you, and you have to allow yourself to be the beginner. I went through it myself when I began to connect with people through social media. Take baby steps, observe each platform first and then start to engage and fill up your social streams with people who are interesting to you.
As a business owner, how do you grow your customer base?
Word of mouth is still the most powerful referral. And that happens when a brand adds more than what they’re selling. Adding value, for example, through relevant content and then customers share that with their friends. That’s how brands can begin to grow a social army that tell their stories for them.
Connecting through stories makes an emotional connection that leads to brand loyalty. Whether it’s beauty or food or clothing, a brand can’t just be selling, they have to be engaging as well. Consumers expect that from brands these days; they expect more than just sales pitches on social platforms. They want to buy a product or work with a service provider that makes them feel a certain way.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs with a great idea but no business experience?
Have confidence, passion, persistence and listen to your gut instincts. You have to be optimistic and agile, ready to turn on a dime. Forge ahead with tiny goals–baby steps every single day. Have a plan and a clear goal. Ignorance can be bliss, first time entrepreneurs don’t know what they don’t know- so they usually have less fear. If you do something wrong, learn from it and move on.
For more insights on what other successful women in business are doing to manage their businesses, check out our interview with Dr. Jennifer Lee.
Learn more about growing your business and find resources to reach your next-level goals.
Capital One does not provide, endorse, nor guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their products and services. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Powered by Spark Business