Starting a business… or 5

Everyone is starting their own business.

Or something like it.

What makes a business a business? Depends who you ask. Where I’m from in Hawaii, children are exposed to becoming entrepreneurs far before they even know the word “entrepreneur”.

Manapua man?

Hawaii kids know you can sell anything out of your car as long as you find the right neighborhood to sell it in

Ice cake and lihingmui gummy bears?

Yeah, that too. Most kids raised in the best neighborhoods in Hawaii get the opportunity to become young business people before they can even count your change. All they know is “cost one dollar” and all their friends will buy from them. If you’ve never had an ice cake before, let me know. If you have, you probably bought it from the kid down the road with the extra freezer in their garage. Lihingmui seed optional?

What I’m saying is that EVERYONE in Hawaii is some kind of entrepreneur whether they realize it or not, they have sold something and probably still sell something.

I, myself, know the importance of having multiple streams of income.

  • I have my own small business, Tiny Isle Studio LLC. Under this business license, I am a paid photographer and artist. I do graphic design as well as physically crafted items. I also have begun to manufacture products that I will sell soon. I have an Etsy shop that I’m itching to update but don’t currently have the means to.
  • I am licensed in the State of Hawaii to perform weddings. I can marry you! And I believe in providing this service at whatever rate the newly weds can afford– because making a commitment to the one you love shouldn’t be held back by a price tag.
  • I use, love, and “sell” Rodan and Fields skin care products. I quote “sell” because I don’t like to push the brand like most consultants are used to. I look forward to my skincare routine every day (I never did before) and I truly hope that more people my age begin to realize how important it is to start taking care of our skin now, especially living on an island.
  • And then I have this blog. I wouldn’t call it a business but there are many aspects behind it that could potentially bring in some extra change– like allowing google ads.

Here are a few tips to becoming an entrepreneur aka small business owner (in Hawaii especially):

  • Remember how everyone is your aunty, uncle, or cousin and therefore by logic everyone is also THEIR aunty, uncle, or cousin, market yourself. Social media is a great, free, tool to use. Network with people in person too.
  • Get a business license. I will create a blog shortly on exactly how to do this in Hawaii. Having a business license as well as a GE tax license makes you legitimate and also solidifies that you’re taking yourself and your business seriously. You can easily do this online for less that $100 on the state’s website.
  • Stay away from food unless you have access to a certified kitchen. One mistake many local people make is jumping into a food business without the proper licensure. Food has to be safe, you need the right licenses and approvals from the Board of Health (green pass) before you can legally sell anything edible. And if you don’t? Pray to the heavens that you never, ever, have to address a food poisoning situation.
  • Consider shipping. Living on an island in the middle of the pacific makes a huge difference when it comes to what can and cannot be shipped and how much it costs. Some businesses that require shipping are frankly not worth it living in Hawaii. However, if you find a good business like Rodan and Fields where you consult for a profit but the brand’s factory fulfills the orders, you might be on the right track!
  • Brand yourself! Create a business logo, use the logo, brand your photos. Find a theme or ambience for your media and stick to it. Creating something visually pleasing is crucial to gaining customers. Carry yourself and your business at a high level of expectation and others will see value in that. If you need help with a logo, contact me here or on my personal instagram. I will always support small business owners and always offer affordable graphics, flyers, etc. I can also proof-read your posts and media, just reach out.
  • Don’t give up. Be persistent. Be consistent. Businesses in Hawaii are copied everyday– yup, straight up copied. Even your own family and friends will see value in what you’ve created and have the audacity to become your competition instead of support you. Let them. Outlast them. Be better. Be more innovative. Offer better customer service. Turn everything around to your favor. It takes a little problem solving and critical thinking– but it will spur you to find more success in the long run.

Do you have a local business you’ve started recently during this pandemic? I’d love to hear from you!

You can find my business instagrams here: @tinyislestudio & @tinyislestudiophoto

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