Here at 1 Plus Events we have the pleasure of meeting a wide array of business owners and dreamers. We recently met up with Kayla Sisson, owner and operator of JoStella Coffee located in Reno, Nevada, USA. Kayla shared her insights on what it takes to set-up a successful event launch as a small business owner.
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JoStella Coffee: A locally owned coffee shop with a small budget and a big dream. I am the owner of JoStella, a proud small business owner. Through my experiences I have learned the importance of holding events in the shop to bring engagement amongst new customers, returning customers, and other local businesses in the surrounding area.
It all so sounds easy at first, “yeah let’s throw an event!” Makes it sound like no problem, right? But as if you don’t have enough on your plate as a small business owner, you now have to put together a fun, simple, and affordable event to bring people in and grow your small business, into your big dreams.
My personal favorite event held at the shop, and one I am most proud of, was our one-year anniversary celebration.
The event planning process for a small company: ideation and marketing
Being who I am, I hit the ground running. I had hundreds of small business ideas for the event, and no organisation. After realising this was not the correct way to go about things, I had to take a step back and I started with a list.
“Lists save lives.” – Kayla, owner of JoStella Coffee
I listed out all the ideas going on in my head. Starting with what would bring the customers in. What kind of entertainment, giveaways, raffles, drink specials, other local business pop-up shops, anything that could get people in the door seeing what my place has to offer…?
I then thought about marketing, how would I go about getting the word out there about this one-year celebration? Social media of course. Posters and brochures posted amongst the area in other neighboring small businesses. Community helping each other is always a good idea.
Being a visual person and my love for design and decorating, I started to brainstorm my ideas for the look of the event. Which colours would be presented, where tables would be places, any extra supplies I might need…?
Then I thought, what are on the tables? Food, of course, people love food. And what’s better than food? Free food. I then listed a few different options for finger foods, pastries and coffee shop deserts.
Drinks came next, but I had that down to a science. After all, drinks are our specialty. That’s the most important list item yet, what is your small business specialty? That’s the easiest and most affordable in-house option to present at your event, that’s what brings the people back to your establishment.
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Execution: Putting ideas into action with an expert team
After I had all my ideas on that piece of paper, I then thought about how I was going to execute these ideas. Would I do them myself? How much could I afford to hire out? This then led to a budget, how much could I do myself without having to pay someone else to do it? I realised I am not the most tech-savvy, so I contacted my logo designer and had him make me a flyer. I then posted this over social media and printed it on paper to hang as posters all over the surrounding area.
Taking my audience into consideration, typically females, I then decided on having a friend of mine who owns a small vintage business to come set up a pop-up shop outside. Her brand is known in my little city, making this another form of marketing as she will market where she is to her audience as well. This could attract people to come to her pop-up, bringing them inside my shop to try us out.
For food, I decided to go the most affordable route and I set up a table with finger foods and pastries we offer in-house, to save me a catering cost.
I went out and bought all my own decorations, for a low cost, and set them up how I wanted. I also put together a raffle basket, having customers leave their names and emails to enter, so I now have their email info to send out any further marketing information. In the basket, I put all our own branded shirts, mugs, coffee, etc.
The Result: Attendees and customer satisfaction
The day had finally come after all the planning! It was a huge success, all for a low cost. Only having hired out two other people and doing the rest as a JoStella in house team. Having predicted around 150-250 attendees, we had an exceptional turnout of around 300 people, and gained many new customers. People posted on social media and complimented us on our event for weeks following.
Through the process, I learned many things I can do differently, and many things that worked well. From my personal experience, events in your small business are all based on trial and error. But you must start somewhere! Bringing people in to see what you have to offer, what makes you different amongst competition, is always a good idea.
Check out this short video to know more about JoStella.