If you’ve been waiting for a sign to take that scary leap into the world of business ownership, consider this it. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s volatile. Yes, you may feel as if you’re putting your heart and soul on the line. But I promise it’s all worth it. And the sweet, talented, beyond inspiring Roxy Owens, of Society Social, is sharing her, personal, tips on exactly where to start. Oh, and for more photos, be sure to peek through the gallery!

1. Perform a SWOT analysis… several of them.

Basically this means to define and quantify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your own big idea as well as all those of your potential competitors. Before I started Society Social, I surveyed the marketplace, picking out who might be in my direct arena, all the while asking myself a multitude of questions about how SS would stack up and compete. Doing this extremely helps in identifying opportunities as you can turn your competitors’ weaknesses or shortcomings into your own strengths.

Personally, this exercise helped me the most in determining my launching product assortment as I noticed the few places that the majority of people were going to buy their furniture only offered up seas of browns and beiges (and borrrring!) when it came to finishes and fabrics. I immediately decided I would be the colorful, bright home furnishings destination for women like me and then made it my mission to bring more custom options than anyone had ever seen in one place without a high designer price tag– 13 color finishes, over a hundred fabrics, so whether you want a hot pink bar cart or emerald green sofa, Society Social has got you covered. Knowing what was already out there helped me pick my colorful path!

2. Find a niche and own it.

The competitive landscape is more crowded and fiercer than ever largely due to the fact that technology and social media makes it possible for just about anyone to start a business and do it fast. Creating your own niche and holding strong to your unique point of view helps you stand out from the hundreds of people who are most likely trying to do the same thing you are.

Being around the furniture industry since I was a really little girl, I knew it well enough to know that it’s an old, traditional business with a handful of key players and suppliers. I knew if I wanted to break into it and be seen amongst the established big boys, I was going to have to have a fresh, compelling point of view. Also, growing up in a home that loves to celebrate, to me a happy home has always meant that decorating and entertaining go hand in hand. And by this I mean, everyone should want to and enjoy creating a warm, inviting environment that you would want to share with your friends and family on quiet nights in or bigger nights celebrating the most important things in life.

These are values that I try to instill in each Society Social piece, home furnishings inspired by shared celebrations whether big or small, from the booze-tastic bar carts for the ultimate hostess to the stylish, yet affordable sofas where there is always a seat for you and the person you would most love to have sitting right beside you!

3. Whatever it is, be really really good at what you do.

No amount of marketing, capital, connections, etc. can make up for a less than compelling, unoriginal product. Period.

4. Read up on the conversation, and join it, too.

Read blogs, read blog comments, leave blog comments, subscribe to all the magazines your target market would subscribe to as well, search hashtags on twitter and instagram… read, read, read. Being informed constantly keeps you in touch with the wants, needs, concerns of your potential customers and therefore enables you to make better decisions in all aspects of your business whether it’s determining the best marketing vehicle for a current project, what product you should develop next and also to connect and stay visible with your audience.

Prior to Society Social and even now, I’m an avid reader of design blogs– I noticed the bar cart was a popular item to blog about but in reading the posts and comments, I noticed everyone was talking about them, but nobody could really tell you where to buy one that wasn’t either extremely high end or vintage and on its last wheel. I knew there was a gap in the market that I could go after, I latched onto it, and in launching in August 2011 my tag line was “the bar cart is back!” I’ve since expanded my categories by identifying a need in the market by being informed then making a strong stand to provide for that need helped me get noticed faster than if I had launched with a million different products.

5. Sometimes it’s okay to let your guard down, but be smart about it.

People have asked me why I’m indiscriminate with whom I give advice or why I partner up with other similar businesses and designers. They’ll say, “Aren’t they your competition?” Well yes, maybe on some level, but I truthfully think there is room for all of us to shine and if you’re being smart about it, why not help each other if we can? Teaming up with people with similar interests and even businesses can not only be great for cross marketing, it can be fun and inspiring, but remember it should also be fair and mutually beneficial for parties involved including the customer. I believe collaborations have the potential to double everyone’s success. Sounds fantastic, right?!

Photography: Courtney Apple | Photography: Lawrence Te | Photography: Robbie Caponetto