Should a Small Business Owner Independently Learn SEO and Digital Marketing?
Do you like business horror stories where the good guy wins in the end? Then this story is for you. With a population of 31,000, Juneau, Alaska is the biggest city in its region. But physical roads to the outside world are practically non-existent. When you think of “global reach”, it’s not a city you would name. Then how did one small B2C business in Juneau ramp up and expand beyond domestic success?
New technologies allowed the brand, named Invisible World , to collaborate better. It let them import from Bolivia and Peru. And source in other countries. But technology didn’t automatically mean smooth sailing. Sometimes technology was a gateway to the company being exploited. Still Thriving After 34 Years and Several Costly Blunders
Small Business Trends connected with Invisible World’s owner, Stuart Archer Cohen , to take a look back on what they did to grow, and to hear about what they wish they’d done differently. He also shared some raw thoughts about selling through Amazon. Founded in 1985, it wasn’t until 2003 that Invisible World started leveraging ecommerce to sell items.
In 2017, they closed the Juneau storefront to concentrate exclusively on the internet. Invisible World now produces in five countries and sells in eight others. While the company headquarters are still in Juneau, only 23 percent of their merchandise ever actually passes through Alaska.
According to Cohen, costly business mistakes were made in Invisible World’s early online days. Some of those mistakes stemmed from how they didn’t put in the necessary time and effort to understand digital marketing and SEO themselves.
Unfortunately they believed if they threw enough money at a problem, it would get solved. And we all know: Those roads don’t lead to success. But thankfully, Cohen says the success of Invisible World in 2019 has been directly proportionate to the effort they’ve made to understand the big picture.
Stuart Archer Cohen is the owner of Invisible World, an apparel company that began as a small retail store. Invisible World now sources alpaca, cashmere and silk clothing in South American and Asian countries, and sells in North America, Europe and Australia. Cohen is also the author of four novels. In the Apparel Industry, Many Traditional Rules of Business Etiquette Still Reign
Small Business Trends: Hi Stuart, I’ll start with a curveball ask. Can you give some business advice that’s ‘not heard enough’ in the textiles industry, but still advice you live by?
Stuart Archer Cohen: My business is 100 percent dependent on my suppliers, and I never forget it. It’s often assumed in ecommerce that this ancient relationship of buyer and seller is as automated as everything else, but, in fact, your supplier can make you money or cost you money.
Suppliers can prioritize your shipment or someone else’s, they can let you experiment with products or require a high minimum order. I go to South America and Asia every year, sometimes simply to have dinner with […]