Marketing a small business

What if I can not sell my product

Your plan looked super good on paper but it is not working in real what is the problem?

  • Harsh words but the truth. Take a deep breath and sit yourself down with a pen and paper and start thinking. Very important: do not brainstorm with yourself..if you don’t know the answer, your alter ego won’t either. Here’s what you do:1. Pretend you are the customer and answer this question honestly: would you buy this product ?
  • If the answer is NO..then write down why not.
  • If the answer is YES then you have to take a good look at
    * the packaging
    * the look and feel
    * your competition
    * What makes your product unique
    * Does the client understand the concept
    *Where do you sell
    * Who sells in on your behalf?
    * Is the people selling your product competent and do they know enough about your product?
    *Are you following your marketing plan?
    The AH Ha moment will only come with lots of effort and research.Don’t give is everywhere. Remember working implies 8 hours a day and if you are working for yourself add a few extra hours.
  • Be out there:
    * place your visite cards everywhere
    * use every social media tool. But be different to your competition.
    * Again, work with your unique selling point and focus on after sales.
    * Follow up on your clients.
    * Attend meetings where you could meet people who could be valuable to your business.
    * BE ASSERTIVE..if you do not believe in your product..why should a client?
  • Be the CEO of your business
    Do not keep yourself so busy with the daily chores that you do not have  enough time to do the CEO work.
  • Enjoy!!
    Your business is probably something you dreamt about for years..remember it takes 3 years only 1000 days. Do not give uprustic charm






I am going to try this myself and will repot back in a month. Maybe I could then afford to have  breakfast on the lovely balcony of 29 Rue l’Epic, Montmartre.

#Small Business etiquette


What is that? In a modern society where anything goes…is it still necessary to take care of the way you conduct your business? If you don’t care then just save yourself the effort and close up shop. These are harsh words but the truth.

Some pointers on good business etiquette:

  • Do not bring your personal problems into your workspace
  • Remember that aftersales service is more important than anything else. A satisfied customer will spread the word!
  • Listen carefully to your client’s needs and make sure you clearly understand their needs
  • Be on time..if not let the customer know that you will arrive shortly.
  • Your customer pays your salary
  • Make sure your staff has the correct attitude and is well informed.
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep.
  • Your packaging should be awesome and not hush-hush
  • Follow up with a email or sms to make sure the customer is satisfied.

Happy days will be ahead if you consider your business as one which you yourself respects and adore.

Guest room

heart shaped plant container


#Growing your small business

You have now decided that your small business idea can become a real business.

heart shaped plant container

A few tips that will help you be successful

  1. Unique selling point:
    What is going to make clients want to use your service/ products or whatever it is you plan to do? What will differentiate you from the opposition? Why your business?
    Let me help you: you have a guest cottage located in a town where there are hundred other accommodation sites available. Research! research! Magazines, internet and travel websites are a wonderful source of information. Check out the websites where reviews are available. Make a list of what people do not want. Then make a list of the things you liked very much. Then decide what your USP could be.
    Your unique selling point could be the high standard of your bedding and linen, the interior, your friendly and effective service or your specials. No matter what it is you have to have an unique selling point.
  2. Social media:
    Your advertisement should be eye catching, well written and true to what you are offering. You can’t fool people, social media is powerful and once you have a bad review it is difficult to change people’s opinions.
  3. Remember the client is always right. You can prove them wrong later on but at first listen carefully and address the problem with always pays off.
  4. After sales service. So important to follow up and with a kind note thanking people for their business.
  5. Networking. Have information available of other businesses that could benefit your client. If you have a guest cottage have enough information available of all the activities in the area. If you sell flowers,  have information such as, flower decoration courses, venues or packaging outlets at hand.

Being serious #small business

Congratulations! You have chosen your business venture and hopefully completed your business plan as I strongly recommended.

Very Important!!

Do not panic..I take it that you also work from home as you cannot afford to rent property and your business can operate from your home. I will use my business as an example: a self-catering cottage.

Guest room

You want to earn an extra income like me. I have a beach cottage and a few spare rooms in my manor house on the farm which could earn me some money. Rule no 1 research: not only about the area and your potential competitors but also the do’s and dont’s of running a self catering cottage..again the internet is a good source to start with. A good idea is to research on the various tourist accommodation web pages to see what type of accommodation you yourself prefer and do read the comments and reviews. Make a list of things people like and do not like..very handy. Rule no 2 Take a good look at your establishment. Before you begin with the interior check how much money you budgeted for the interior and do not go shopping crazy and over spend.  Sometimes a new layer of paint is all you need for cleanliness counts much higher than the colour of the walls. Rule no 3 Decide on a theme. Guests love a beautifully decorated cottage/apartment/room. Keep it simple and again do research by browsing through accommodation websites. Rule n0 4 Choose your method of advertising very carefully. Read the T’s and C’s of the various sites such as very carefully. There are quite a few options and the sites are very helpful. Have professional photo’s taken as they sell your establishment. Find a young and upcoming photographer, they usually have cheaper rates. Rule no 5 Design an eye catching quote document. Your potential client want to see from start that you make a lot of effort. Rule no 6 State clearly what you offer and do not provide. For example compile a list of items that they will have ready for use: linen, towels, hair dryers etc. Also state what you do not provide. in my case I do not provide any household items merely because I live very far from my guest house.Rule no 7 House rules. These are very important!! Take the environment into account when compiling the list as you do not want to anger your neighbors. Think and rethink. From the dustbin and garbage removal to the noise factor. Put it on paper in the nicest way ever. Rule no 8 follow up. Make sure they are settled in comfortably. Then leave them to enjoy the stay. Do not make a nuisance of yourself. Rule no 9 Follow up. A questionaire will show you how to improve and remember the client should be treated with respect. Rule no 10 Information.  Provide useful information about the area and activities to do specially with kids.

Small business start-up

tasting the first vintage

Starting up and keeping your small business is not easy. All businesses have the same rules. Don’t think just because you make chocolate fudge or write online your business is less worth than that of the super rich people. They also started small, some in their garages and some even while being a nomad, writing stories sitting on a bed.

My first business as an entrepreneur,was called Granny’s Linen. Beautiful bed linen with pin tucks, frills and lace. I did a lot of research after I came up with the idea. It was something I couldn’t find in stores and decided to make my own. As mentioned in a previous blog, I attended a short course on small business management and didn’t do a thing before I compiled my proper business plan.
Do’s and don’ts

  1. Stick to your plan.
  2. Don’t over spend on business cards etc. Try to find a happy medium.
  3. Find out what is your unique selling point
  4. Learn to quote.
  5. Follow up… after sales service is as important.
  6. Decide what to do with excess raw material
  7. If not comfortable with financial planning.. follow your goals on your financial plan. Use templates from the internet.
  8. Have a easy but effective administrative system.
  9. Follow up on debtors and if possible cash on delivery only.

    Granny’s Linen

My linen business didn’t last long. Why? Wasn’t driven enough and did it for the wrong reasons. Although it made enough money, I quit the business after a year. MISTAKE!! Solution? I should have adapted my business. It was way ahead of it’s time as it was then, early nineties, an ‘ on-line’ shop. I stopped as all the shops started stocking similar products.

I still, then, didn’t really settle with one business as I said I did it for the wrong reason’s. Did it because I was bored and only needed spending money.

My daughter after we made our first vintage

When my husband health took a wrong turn, after 20 odd years, I finally saw what it really takes to be an entrepreneur. The next blog will tell you more about that.


How to become an Entrepreneur

I had to become an entrepreneur after marrying a farmer. Being a professional archivist only landed me charity research jobs. That wasn’t good enough as I quite like to have money because I like to visit France once a year. So what’s wrong with that? I asked myself a few years back. Won’t get the money from my husband…farmer’s are not as rich as they pretend to be!

Paris street cafe

So, I had to come up with a plan.  I started listing a few business ideas and what I could do to  make money (just enough to buy my own clothes and pay as much as I want, visit France every year, re-decorate my house once in a while and all the other girly things I want to do on a weekly basis.

But, remember I am not a hillbilly , I know stuff and I am street wise. I enrolled at the  http://US business school for a 6 weeks course on small businesses. Nowadays it is easy, just type “how to create a business plan” into any search engin et Voila, there you go.

I learned very quickly that most small businesses fail if it is not properly planned with a business plan that includes both a financial plan and a marketing strategy. Before you do anything, invest in only that: a business plan. After compiling your business plan and the outcome of the break-even figures you can start dreaming about your small business.

I AM SURE YOU HAVE, LIKE ME MANY OPTIONS!!… but don’t multitask. After compiling your list of possible ventures, draw up the business plan and only after you have established that the outcome is positive, sit down, start all over and this time do it properly and stick to the plan.

My list included:My own bed linnen range, a self-catering guesthouse, designer front doors, french inspired metal works, boutique wines and possibly my own clothing range.  Too much!!

A French Vanilla creation

In my next blog I will tell you more about my very own linen range called Granny’s linen, which was my very first small business



#Front doors

#Front doors designed by French Vanilla

My business started with a request from a friend who was in the process of building a new house at a fancy polo estate. I was commissioned to search for doors for this new house but after endless efforts, i decided that it couldn’t be that difficult to make a front door. We have a joinery in town and with their help I could just pull it off.

I saw a picture of the above door in a cook book about French one thought I could pull this project off but I was determined and eventually the joiners bought into my idea and this was my first door!nokia-15-oktober-2010-023

Soon I started getting requests and now after 5 years I can proudly say that I have helped many clients to have a beautiful front door. I also combined steel with wood to have a security gate and front door combined. It looks great as there are many such doors in France I could copy.


Petro red door


An existing front door could also be revamped by just adding some trimmings and a new layer of paint. Perhaps a new handle and knocker and there you go… a new look!

Interior decorating

2016-08-08 17.12.42La Vita Lente
The slow life you always wanted

I recently bought a small apartment at  the pretty town Dwarskersbos on the # flower route of the West Coast (SA). Wish I could translate the name but alas no! it is an indigenous name and just say bushbushbush for the lack of a better word.

2016-08-08 17.07.11

The place was a little run down and was never occupied since it was built several years ago. It is in the Fisherman cottage style and a few hundred meters from a perfect white sand beach.

I was not sure about the way I wanted to go with the renovatios. I needed a lock-up and go kind of place but something I could potentially rent out…to cover my initial cost. I had to do something different to my usual french inspired decor and didn’t want to do the beach cottage look again. The double volume thatched roof asked for something different # loft living  or perhaps industrial decor.

2016-08-08 17.14.01

We decided on cement floors as it is practical and goes with all the major decor trends. The apartment does not have the best lay-out ever and we had to knock down one wall to make it habitable. A mere 50 sqm but luckily it has a lock-up garage and two balconies. I used what I had as decor items and decided to keep it simple as it is a rental apartment and for that one doesn’t need clutter..

Here are some pictures

Pretty home decor

old bookslI developed an eye for detail over the years..did take a while before I realised that there are two ways to tackle any   decor project. I call it boredom shopping and clever shopping.  One is were you are bored and browse through shops, spot a beautiful lamp, for example, spontaneously buy and it and when you are home you realise that you do not know where to put it.

Clever shopping, on the otherhand is where you first do some research. Interiour decorating is a job, it takes hours of research to find the idea you are looking for. That way you do notmake any mistakes and will never get bored with your style.

Interior decorating as I do

Say you are tired of your dispays on your side tables or coffee tables. it looks drap and outdated. Do rush to the nearest shop or even supermarket, no! Make yourself a nice cup of coffee and sit down with a stack of magazines and start pages through it. Even better use Pinterest, Instagram or any other social media. Keep in mind that you are searching for a specific images . You want to update the look of your cupboard.. start searching for cupboards and shelves. Look for something that is almost similar to the one you want to decorate.

antique teapot

antique teapot

Water jug with two french antique egg holders

teapot with knitted jacket

teapot with knitted jacket





My Paris anniversary

Samsung June 2015 280Twenty years ago, May 1996, I went to paris for the first time and just fell in love with this enchanting city of love

We were on our way to attend a french wedding in the Loire Valley and decided to spend a few days in Paris. I did my homework so well that it felt like a deja vu experience. Everything felt so “right”, exept for the fact that I was 180 degrees wrong. Till this day my body tells me the right bank is on this side and the map and my husband tells me it is on the otherside

Montmartre just stole my heart .. I had to have my first french coffee there and 20 years later Montmarte was the place where I sat down for my morning coffee once again.


View from my balcony room at l’Hotel 29 Rue L’Epic


Since 1996 and the epic frence wedding I have been to Paris and France numerous times. With my family and friends and also alone. I was there in summer, spring and autumn but my favourite remains Paris in winter! As for 2016, I am about to visit Paris for the 10th time. With two friends, I am  spending a glorious week in Paris, just doing whatever we find to do.

Planning the trip

Although I have been there, done that sort of thing, Paris remains full of surprises. Pinterest helped me discover many things that I could still revisit and loads of new things to do. I even learned that one can learn a new language in a week. Would’nt try that though… With all the info on the web I discovered a few things that are free
* a fashion show at the beautiful Galleries Lafayette and au Printemps
* Certain nights are “open museum” nights and apparently champagne is served!
* The Musee Fragonard, the perfume museum as well as a few others are also free.
*Pere lachaise cemetary  is worth a visit to see very lovely architecture

Just for fum, my own garden

My own garden

Very cheap things to do:
Bus no 69 give s 2 hour scenic ride for only 2 E

The Thinker Rodin Museum

garden of the Rodin Museum

garden of the Rodin Museum