Chris Fawcett of Kidjot.com started her website in 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
What is Kidjot.com?
Kidjot.com is a website geared to sharing and saving family memories.
How did you come up with the idea for Kidjot.com?
We saw a need in our own family for a place online where we could share our family memories. Facebook and myspace weren't secure enough to talk about kids in any detail. Blogs were similar, but even if we made them private, we'd be browsing to multiple blogs to read stuff. The family sites out there were all overloaded with functionality from calendars to photo sharing to event planning to family trees, etc. They were just far more complicated than we wanted to get into. So the idea was generated to make a page that was socially networked with just your family and closest friends, simple and easy to use and all about the stories of our lives.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Still currently have a day job. Formerly I had worked in a family owner business for 16 years.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
The first thing is to have a great idea. What makes you different from the other businesses? What are you offering that no one else is offering? If you can find that, jump right in. If you're not sure, you're not ready to start yet.
Did you write a business plan?
We did. It was effective in the development cycle, but we're having to adjust constantly. We underestimated the marketing effort that we would need.
Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers …? Would you suggest others do the same?
Fortunately my brother (one of the co-owners) is a programmer, so I actually hired him (and he gave some of his time) to program the site. We also hired a lawyer to help with the legal stuff and an artist to work with graphics.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
It wasn't really a challenge. With an internet site and no merchandise, there wasn't much important about the physical space.
Do you own a business with family members? What do you think are the benefits and challenges to running a family owned business?
If you get along OK, there's nothing better. It can be a challenge when you feel like someone is slacking, but if you have good communication, that's something you can work through.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Find friends and family to help. Search out people that might be willing to give some work for equity in your new company.
Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?
We outsourced all our art design. It's worked out great. We took samples from a couple different artists and then chose the one we felt whose style best suited what we were going for. Having original design and logos if very important to your business no matter what you are. The first impression that you give is probably going to be your company logo. Make sure it's excellent.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
We've tried it. Facebook and Twitter. It hasn't driven a lot of business to us yet. We're currently shifting our strategy to focus on normal advertising outlets, but putting our social networking sites on the ads and on our sites. The goal is to focus on pulling in the best customer then leading them to our social networking areas, rather than scrounging the social networks and getting mediocre customers.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Learning the ins-and-outs of online advertising has helped. Digging into Adwords and Google Analytics has been tough, but good.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
The marketing side is much harder than I expected. I guess part of me was just of that attitude that if you build a better mousetrap the world will come running. But you gotta let the world know you have the mousetrap. And that's been hard.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
A few things in development, but I don't think they are anything that we could have seen in advance. You just program your site and then try it out. We've gotten feedback and have some things we want to shift gears on, but that's what developing a product is all about. As an entrepreneur, don't ever think you're there. Keep pushing on how you can do things better.
That's great advice, Chris. Thank you for your time and good luck with Kidjot.com!