Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why Small Business is Hard

...and other musings about small businesses and internet drama.

Apparently while I was off teaching in the land of second grade yesterday, something was happening in the world of Facebook that I became aware of via text messages from friends.  I wasn't able to follow much of it or address any of the comments in real time, but that was probably for the best.  Instead of getting heated and wrapped up in it all, I was able to let things sink in, try to understand the facts, and then decide whether or not I wanted to respond.  I went back and forth about it because I'm absolutely against anything drama or "mommy war" related, and I didn't want to add fuel to the fire by saying something.  But, I did learn some things.  Like A LOT of things.  So I'm going to focus on those things in this blog post, and by sharing, maybe others will learn a thing or two as well.

1.  What I learned about running a business.

As most of you know, my husband and I are not business people.  We somehow in the grand scheme of this crazy game called life ended up creating the Spray Pal and are now business owners, but wow, the things we are still learning each day would amaze you.  In this situation, I learned that competition is something every good business should have.  You know why?  Because it means your idea is actually good!  And useful!  If your product isn't truly a helpful tool, then it won't succeed. It also motivates us to do better. As a business, we will continue to provide our customers with the best product and the best customer service we can give. We will listen to feedback from our customers and do the best we can to adapt. Luckily, we took the time in the beginning of this process to experiment with many different prototypes, and being Spray Pal users ourselves, we know that it works amazingly well. :)

2.  What I learned about collaboration.

One of the most amazing things I've found in the cloth diapering community is that for the most part, everyone is open and willing to work together for the greater good.  As Spray Pal, we've worked hard as a business to not just promote ourselves, but to promote cloth diapering to the masses.  We've worked together with other brands to promote each other and boost each other up because how does that expression go?  A rising tide floats all ships??  Gah, I have to look it up.  But you get the idea.  If we work together as a community to show people that cloth diapers are not as hard as people think, plus they are eco-friendly, economical, and cute, then everyone in the business community benefits right along with our fluffy bummed babes and our landfills (and wallets).


3.  What I learned about social media.

If you've been following Spray Pal for a while, you already know that this is a whole new world for me.  I've been working hard to learn the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and most of my education comes from you all!  I love the amazing and supportive community we have on our Spray Pal social media pages.  Especially when I see what can happen when things get out of hand.  I think Ron Burgundy said it best:

Basically, when it comes to the internet, it becomes very easy to forget that there are real people behind the screen.  The same is true for a business, especially those of the small variety.  We are real people behind the brands and we are eventually going to see all of these comments.  Add to that the fact that it's really hard to read a person's tone through a typed message, and you have a recipe for disaster, and things WILL escalate quickly.  I personally think a very good rule of thumb as a brand is: Do not get involved in social media drama unless you are directly addressed.

4.  What I learned about people in general.

I've always said, always, that we have the most amazing and loyal Facebook following.  You guys respond to my questions, love on my family, share your rave reviews of the Spray Pal on our wall, and tag us in adorable pictures of your cloth diapered little ones.  I get messages from complete strangers thanking us for coming up with the Spray Pal because it 1) kept them going with cloth diapers when they were about to give up, 2) got their husbands on board with spraying dirty diapers, 3) helped them convince their naysaying friends or family that the dirty part of cloth diapering could be taken care of in one simple step.  I will take one day of a negative social media experience any time to have what we have with you all.  People in general are good.  The negative nellies are gonna negate.  But luckily, they are in the minority.  And we have the option not to feed into them.  I really liked what Kim Rosas said on the Dirty Diaper Laundry Facebook page:

"If you love something- support it. If you don't love it, don't buy it.
Vote with your dollars and spread the word about the brands you love, those things do the most good."

This is so true. And we realize that those of you who already support the Spray Pal brand do so because you probably already own a Spray Pal.  But if you'd like a way to show support without having to spend a dime, you can always take a moment to leave us a review here: Spray Pal on Amazon. It will let you leave a review even if you purchased your Spray Pal from a cloth diaper retailer other than amazon. We truly appreciate it!

So keep on keeping on, you amazing Spray Pal fans, you!  And keep spreading the cloth diapering love while you're at it.  We're truly on a mission to #makeclothmainstream and we won't let one crazy day get in our way. ;)