Tips for Becoming an Online Entrepreneur: Selling Name Change Kits

Today’s “I Want to Be” Series features Genevieve Dennis, who runs an online business helping new brides change to their married name legally, quickly, and easily. Genevieve is mom to two kids, a two year old and a newborn. She and her husband took the radical step of moving to Cambodia after their first child was born to lower their cost of living so they could live comfortably on the income their business generates. Find out how to connect with Genevieve at the end of this article.

How long have you had your business? 

We established the business in 2008. We built the first version in 4 weeks, working flat out.

What led you to pursue it?  

I got married and thought ‘why is there no online service to prepare all the name change notifications?’ Conveniently, my husband is an amazing web developer, so we had the skills. Nothing really came of it until 3 months later when I unexpectedly found myself out of a job, then I had the time to get it done.

Are you full time or part time?  If part-time, do you anticipate switching to full time? 

For the first 2 years we were part time – the business didn’t have the cash flow to support us working on it full time. To make it really work, we knew we needed to put in at least 20 hours a week each down the track.

How do you market your business? 

Mainstream marketing is so expensive! We’ve dabbled in a few small projects to gauge what works, and we offer really good discount codes to track redemption. We’ve learned that any marketing speaking to brides more than 6 weeks before their wedding is a waste of money. We’ve found networking within the wedding industry is worthwhile, especially in the early days when no one knows who you are. For the last 2 years we offer discounts for people who are Facebook Fans (which has been amazing at building our FB fan base and gaining credibility).  But we know now that about 85% of our customers come from Google searches. Therefore about 85% of our ‘marketing’ time is spent on improving our search-ability and adword campaigns. The great thing about a niche industry is that it’s not very expensive or difficult to rank well. If you’re in an competitive industry online, like hotel bookings, getting a good ranking would be very difficult.

What is your favorite part of the business? 

The variety! Working in a small business means you get to do everything and have the final decision, too! Customer service, strategy, brand plans, content, managing outsourced suppliers. It’s a great variety of work  I get to do. I also love planning for the future. It’s exciting to know this is our business and what we put in, we will get out. We’re answerable to no one but ourselves.

What one question do you get most from people about your business?  

After people ask what I do, and I tell them I have a name change business, they always ask ‘What on earth is a name change business?’ It’s a very unusual and unique business we have created! Then the next thing they ask is how we stumbled across this as an idea for a business.

What one myth or misconception do you want to dispel about the work you do?   

When we started working full time on the business from home, I’d have lots of friends wanting to catch up for coffee or lunch during the day. I quickly learnt this was a productivity killer and stopped doing it. I think well-meaning friends and family don’t appreciate that working from home often means ‘working’! The same way I couldn’t take a 3 hour lunch break when I worked for someone else, I found friends didn’t really understand that I couldn’t afford to take a 3 hour lunch break when I worked from home.

What advice do you have for others who want to get into a similar opportunity?    

The next time you find yourself annoyed about a missing business or service and hear yourself say ‘how come no one XYZ’s?’, why not do it yourself! Necessity is the mother of invention, and if you find a business opportunity that would genuinely help you, chances are lot of other people think the same thing.

What is the first step?  

Finding the time to do it. Especially with kids. If you really want to make it work, consider pre-planning all your tasks, then taking 4 weeks off from the kids and putting your all into getting it up and running.

What websites or books do you recommend for tips?   

I’ve never been a big one for business or self help guidance. And the time you spend reading some self-help book could be put into making your idea work. I believe in believing in yourself. You can do it. 

And a side not I’d like to add – if anyone out there has a brilliant idea but they are struggling with bills, consider doing something drastic to lower your costs to make it work. Move in with your parents and rent out your house, or move to South America. There’s always a way to make it work, but you might need to be unconventional to get there.

To learn more about Genevieve, stop by her website, Easy Name Change. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

*Photo by Jack Dorsey via Flickr.

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