Advice for Starting a Small Business in Oki
Alright...I don't know what possessed me to write this blog, but I felt like I should, I guess. I know it's different than my normal content, but I think a lot of women that read my blog are in Okinawa. If you're in Oki, you already know that the job market here is pretty blah. You also probably have realized by now that although island life is great, being a stay-at-home wife isn't for everyone. Some of us just have that drive to create more and pour ourselves into something outside of the home. It's a personal choice, but I absolutely have always felt that drive.
Living here for 3.5 years now, I have some advice I've learned over the years for building a business here on island. I'm no guru on this, but my hope is that sharing what's helped me grow a 5-figure business will help another spouse grow hers. Honestly, though, it doesn't matter how much you make, it just feels damn good as military spouse to have something to call your own. I digress!
Connect on Social Media, but Also in Real Life
I know nowadays it feels like the only way to "grow a business" is through social media. While it's an amazing way to connect with others in Okinawa and share your service, it isn't the only way. There are plenty of people doing probably exactly what you want to do online already. They might not even be in Oki.
So, what sets you apart? YOU!
Don't stay at home stressing over the amount of instagram followers you have thinking that because you don't have a swipe up option no one will purchase a product or service from you. GET OUT. Join some spouse groups. Make friends. Explore the island!
Women on island are extremely supportive of small businesses and many of them own a small business themselves. One of the biggest ways to grow out here isn't instagram. It's word of mouth! You can have a completely booked schedule or sell out of your product through this.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice -
Offer a Quality Product and Have a Business Mindset
Nowadays a lot of extremely talented people can easily showcase their work online. Hello - you are one of those people! That said, if you have a pretty instagram, but your product is shit, you'll fall flat. How do you think you get word of mouth recommendations? A bomb ass product or service!
Don't be flaky. Set good business practices for yourself. Double check your spelling. Remember that your customer is king. Don't act like anyone on this island owes you anything because you made a pretty t-shirt or wrote a great workout plan. Be humble about it! Commit to bettering your business through professional and personal development. It will reflect in your quality of work.
The biggest nightmare of any business owner out here, I think, is ending up on the Okinawa Rants & Venting Page or someone's Instagram story because their product or service was subpar and as a business owner, they did nothing to correct it. Own up to your mistakes, make it right with your client, and move on!
People Will Ghost You
I don't know why this is a thing here, but it's a thing! It's probably a thing everywhere, but in Okinawa it seems to be more prevalent. It's like people think because you're a "small business" it's okay to flake out. I'm not sure! Even on yard sale sites, people get ghosted all the time.
Don't take it personal. You aren't failing because you didn't have anyone show up to a class or no one bought your first t-shirt launch. It probably isn't you, it's them! Grow thick skin and move on. I can tell you right now, if I would have quit because there wasn't interest in my seawall classes, I would not be where I am today with my business. Know your worth and keep going. You've just got to find your clients here.
How do you do that? Refer back to point one ;)
I'm sure this blog post came across a little more "tough love" than my usual post, but I think it's because I'm so passionate about it! I 100% believe that you can succeed at what you do with hard work and perseverance. Okinawa is an amazing spot to explore and grow in areas you wouldn't be able to stateside. It's the great equalizer, through and through, where we're all stripped of careers, family, friends, cars, homes, shopping, you name it!! I hope you take advantage of it, rather than hate it for what it is.