Emily, in California, contacted me in September this year. A dream client; someone who is still stuck in the world of full-time work (she is a lawyer), but with her inner creativity eager to burst out, she was yearning to launch a quirky business of her own: Sweet Orange Adventures. A small business, based around a bright orange 1970s VW camper van, which Emily wants to offer as the perfect backdrop to unique events on the Californian beach. And Emily had a head full of ideas, but had no clue where to start. And she was very scared.
She wasn’t so much scared of opening a business…but her main fear was what her family, friends and colleagues would say about it. She was scared of failure. Scared of making a fool of herself. And yes, launching a business means becoming visible. Online, and in real life. Also, coming from a traditional, corporate environment, and still working in a law firm, becoming a creative entrepreneur felt kinda…weird, and very out of her comfort zone. But her excitement won over her fear, and so she called me.
Romantic date nights in the Californian sunset
I liked Emily and her quirky project from the first time we met, during a strategy call she booked through my website. We chatted about her idea on Zoom (she at 6am, I at 3pm! Oh, the joy of time zones!), had an immediate click, and I felt confident I could help her launch that wonderfully creative business. Of course, I am a huge fan of anything vintage and soulful, so this happy orange project was right up my street. This is what she initially came to me with;
- She wanted to launch a small events business, using her recently bought vintage camper van. She had this vision of renting it out to either locals or tourists, not to drive in, but to use it as a backdrop for picnics or date nights.
- She also wanted to combine this with a fleet of rental bikes or e-bikes.
- She had a vision of a beach front office with lounge chairs, and popsicles in a cooler (I love it!) for customers to relax in. The e-bikes parked out front.
- In the future she wanted to have a team manage it, and then eventually sell off the business once successful.
After sifting through her head full of ideas, we settled on launching her business starting with one beautiful first offer: unique date nights on the beach, with a yummy picnic, board games, music and of course the cozy vintage camper van to snuggle in and watch the sun go down. Date nights for both older couples celebrating their anniversary, and wanting to relive the good old times in an original way, but also for young couples (celebrating their engagement or ‘babymoon’).
We decided on her target audience, her offer and her message: how could we tap into the emotions, memories, and particular needs of people looking for the ultimate date night? With what message could we attract them?
Together we created a launch strategy, and, all in a very short amount of time, Emily managed to organise a photo shoot to help her new business look amazing online, and she found two perfect couples to try out her offer and provide Trip Advisor testimonials in return.
Turning your mother into your cheerleader
Onto the next challenge: the fear factor. What will people think of me? To overcome her biggest fear of being judged by her own family, I suggested involving her own mother in the project, and invite her to test out her date night…
SAY WHAT?? YEP. Face that fear, baby.
I asked Emily: “What would your mother do if you gave her a great ‘Sweet Orange Adventure’ and invited her as your first guest? If you treated her and a friend to a delicious picnic in front of your van on the beach, and give them an amazing time? She could help you give some honest feedback, and be a trial customer, no?” After getting over the initial shock, Emily realised the potential. “Oh! She would become my biggest cheer leader!” she said. “She would tell everyone”. And indeed, my idea was not stupid at all, as her mother said yes, and was indeed way more positive about her business idea than Emily had expected.
Tweaking the message, creating a crystal clear offer
Being a copywriter myself, I then helped Emily to fine-tune her web copy to be crystal clear about what it is she offers and to whom. We also chose tag lines and logos to go on the back of the van, and decided on more places to promote her offer after the initial launch.
She took the leap and booked a prime spot for 3 months at the busy weekly ‘cars & coffee’ event held in her town, to park her camper van here, make herself better known in the area, and talk about her date nights to visitors. We decided on producing cute vintage inspired post cards to hand out to prospects (blank on the back, so you could invite your date and personalise your message!). Emily’s mother, now well on board and supportive of the project, sewed some colourful festive flags to hang around the pop-up roof tent.
The business is still in its startup phase, but I am incredibly proud of Emily and how pro-active she has been in getting stuff done in such a short time, and most importantly, overcome those initial mind blocks that most new entrepreneurs encounter.
Emily is a prime example of someone who managed to turn a dream into a real life project, and I can’t wait to start working together again in the new year!
How about you? Are you still (California) dreamin’?
If you are ready to take the bull by the horns, like Emily, and launch or grow your own creative business, I am now taking bookings for 2022. Schedule a free call with me to find out how we can work together!