Is Running A Small Business On Instagram Always Fun: Expectation vs Reality?


The pandemic took everyone on a rollercoaster ride in 2 years, and the effects are still going on and on. Amid lay-offs, losing a loved one, coping with mental health issues, or simply longing for some warmth and comfort of a family, nothing made sense. Indeed, our lives were spun on a 360-degree circle. But, as we hunt for a silver line during a grey storm, a few people could make the best of the existing circumstances. Tracing way back to hobbies, new kings were crowned with amazing startups ideas and small businesses, the shift to digital became a norm and so on. There was no looking back for some people during the pandemic. 

With the advent of technology and curiosity and the will to do something that was appreciated, ‘small business on Instagram’ became a buzzword worldwide. The mere idea of making something from scratch and being the CEO of everything from logistics to communication and delivery, the feeling of accomplishment topped everything over and above the lockdown blues. It is a fact that almost every one of you who is reading this blog has sometime or the other gushed over packaging reels and has thought of getting something customised from the same shop. Everything looks perfect, doesn’t it? But have you ever spoken to a small business owner about it? Well, let’s dive a little deeper into the ocean. 

Reviews are always positive and come easy

Expectation : 

“Reviews? Well, there is never anything less than a 500 word text message which contains all the flowery words and good things about how well curated the product was.”

“All customers always upload minimum 5 stories, a reel and keep on tagging the store on their posts all year long.”

Reality : 

Almost 30% of the time, customers do not even get back to the respective owners after receiving the parcel. It is hard to find people who would actually take the initiative to upload a story, posts and everything. It is important to understand that reviews really do matter for the small business owners on Instagram primarily for two reasons:

  • It helps them revamp their process of creating the product for you because nearly 99% of the feedback received is always constructive. So, the next time you or someone else places an order, they get something better to experience. 
  • One story from a customer expands the audience base of the business owner and increases the conversion rate to a certain extent. 

They always enjoy what they are doing.

Expectation: 

“There is always a great aesthetic table setup, fairy lights, slow music and all the luxury throughout the process.” 

“There is zero tension throughout the process because you love what you are doing and that is pretty much everything you should count as a blessing.” 

“There is not even a single day when you will feel a burnout happening and you are always sane.” 

Reality

Since the small business is always backed by the sheer love of pursuing a hobby as a source of income, it is always assumed that the road is smooth as butter. Days mainly for a small business owner is spent in a room full of a mess because it is not a 1000 sqft office, it is one room and 8 departments where a single person is working, so – no aesthetic workspaces! But there is literally nothing in the world that will not make you crave a break. As a matter of fact, small business owners love what they do, but at times because of the 100 orders which need to be processed with the same detail, they do have a burnout (and that needs to be normalised!)

How do people start a small business?

Expectation: 

“It is very easy to start a small business.”

“Resin art is just mixing liquids with colours and pouring everything into a silicon mould.” 

“Polymer clay jewellery is coloured clay and it needs to be just given a shape and baked.”

“Crochet knitwear must be your grandma’s comfort zone.”

Reality:

It takes a minimum of 6 months of planning and research to start a small business online. Of course, we are not looking for investors to fund our startup or raise a lot of people in the workforce; least of all-we are not aiming for NASA. But, we really do take 6 months to start a business online as it is crucial to do thorough research on the raw materials, best prices, usability, longevity, shipment, packaging, and so much. Just FYI, resin art is not just mixing liquid; it is also about knowing the right proportion, limiting the resin from getting a yellow stain, protecting your eyes and hands from burning, and 100 different reasons. When it comes to clay, you don’t get a crash course of 7 days before you start creating mini masterpieces. It takes time and a literal interest to build something people would not only want to buy but love to preserve. 

Marketing a small business is always easy.

Expectation: 

“It is nothing but a bunch of pictures on a grid.”

“Reels are always fun to make.” 

“If you do not have a website, then managing just one platform is very convenient as you do not have to delve deep into the technicalities much.”

“Ideas flow like the river Nile, never-ending and smooth.”

Reality :

Trust me; managing Instagram is more complex than creating a website and following a healthy SEO algorithm. The posts that go up on Instagram need to be clicked from multiple angles in good light and edited with a background before finally letting them float free on the platform. When it comes to stories, we always need to come up with something which will make people interact with them. Reels on Instagram derive the maximum traffic, and it goes through a quality check before we get the traffic onboard. Hence, it is imperative to build relatable content over there and speak thoroughly of the brand. The main takeaway here is consistency, which is the most challenging point that needs to be accomplished regularly. 

The unboxing experience is effortless.

Expectation :

“You can easily ship the way Amazon does just with bubble wrap and a brown box.”

“Packaging seems quite easy because it is just about keeping everything in a box with confetti.”

Reality :

Amazon is an eCommerce giant, and they deal in products which are mostly high end and are produced in mass quantities. But a small business owner takes special care while preparing each and every product. Hence, the unboxing experience matters a lot because handmade gifts are always more personal than a gift that you can just pay for and get. Packaging is another era of hit and trial methods because we need to understand the best possible way to pack something so that it is shipped without getting damaged. Along with that, the use of bubble wrap needs to be minimised as much as possible because it is not eco-friendly. We also take the initiative to add a few freebies and colours to match our brand mood so that the customer always opens the package with a smile on their face.es. 

Conclusion

Running a small business isn’t as easy as it seems. It always takes time to curate the line of process in the best possible way so that people can always trust you with their special occasions. But at the end of the day, our small businesses are always like our babies. We might have bad days, but the good days are always more in proportion. Every finished product puts a smile on our faces because it is a new milestone. It makes us feel more independent when it comes to finances and gives us a way out of our usually mundane lives in corporate hubs or just courses we are forced to study. Lastly, a small business is something that I can always be proud of and call my own.