How One Internet Business Owner Gained Mega Media Exposure By Helping Others Online
If you’re looking for a real story of inspiration that will jump start you into taking action to grow your business, Chris Hanisco’s story and these 4 success tips based on her lessons learned are something you won’t want to miss.
Chris’s internet presence launched her specialty dips company from her kitchen to a feature on ABC World News, to the pages of Family Circle and Diet and Nutrition Magazine.
She’s been a guest on Start Up Nation radio, been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, and managed to grow a successful company almost completely on her own.
Chris Hanisco, home-based business owner and founder of the Dippy Chick Company, started her company less than 2 years ago with only $1500 that she says she “definitely could have used for other things.”
“I wish I could say that it started with a grand vision” she says, “But I didn’t. Things just sort of came together.” Though in talking with her about her journey between then and now, there were some significant decisions that paved the road to her success.
The story begins like many success stories—with an entrepreneurial spirit and a catalyst that caused her to jump in to her venture with two feet rather than just testing the waters.When she learned she was pregnant with her second child, she didn’t want to continue as a real estate agent and left to pursue her own business full time.
Having been to numerous craft shows and seeing the success of other packaged food items, she decided to develop a series of packaged vegetable and chip dips to sell online and at shows.
With a baby on the way and only a small sum left over from her final real estate commission check, she had to build a profitable and sustainable business quickly.When working with an extremely limited budget, decisions about where to spend money can make or break a fledgling business.
Here’s where the power of Chris’s choices begin to pave the way for her success.She put some of the money went toward things like web hosting, packaging, and ingredients to create her initial product line inventory.However, most of her money went toward obtaining a state license for her facility that is not even required in her state of New Hampshire.Regardless, Chris felt that this quality measure was instrumental for success.
Success Tip #1: Be fanatical about quality
Though The Dippy Chick Company is an online retailer, Chris knew that she was going to have to get out into the community to begin making sales quickly.For most of her first year in business, Chris spent weekdays creating product, and almost every weekend at craft shows.
Being face to face with shoppers at craft shows led to a critical turning point. She thought that “it might be fun” to experiment with a new, more artistic label, and a humorous name. “I was just having fun with it,” she says. At the next show, she noticed that browsers tended to gravitate toward the sillier packaging and expressed a great deal of excitement over that particular dip mix.
This enticed her to replace more of the original bland labels with more whimsical artwork and add funny names like “CrabbyOleBeach,” “Don’t Squat with Your Spurs On,” and “Atomic Wedgie Veggie.” The funnier the packaging, the more people raved.
Had she not gotten out into the community and seen how people reacted to her products first hand, she could have missed this critical element.Had her business only been online she would have missed this golden opportunity to learn from pure customer reaction.Though analytics tools can certainly aid an online business in identifying successful products, new business often don’t have large enough amounts of traffic to paint a full picture.In the end, even the best analytics software can’t compare with live, genuine customer feedback.
Success Tip #2: Test your product or service on real people
The lighthearted humor and down-to-earth tones of packaging are also reflected on The Dippy Chick website.You won’t find stuffy corporate logos here or photos of executives forcing canned smiles.
Instead you’ll be introduced to Chris and her family through photos.You’ll find out that her and her two sons have Celiac disease, a type of gluten intolerance.She calls herself dippy and talks about how her husband and their friends would eat dip while playing board games into the wee hours of the night.Just about everything on her site is a fun read because of the high-spirited, fun-loving tone.
She learned about the power of personal photos during her career in real estate. Instead of a Glamour Shots pose, she used a candid photo of herself and her son. She wanted to convey to people that she was a person just like them—a parent, interested in schools and safe neighborhoods, not just another person who could sell them a house. People responded well to this more personal approach that helped her to stand out from the crowd and sell homes.
The decision not to try and hide behind a website that made her look bigger than she actually was would become another critical factor in her success.When the press did begin to find her through various channels, it was personal nature of the site that caused them to want to interview her.
Journalists are always looking for the personal angle behind a story. People make interesting stories, not businesses. Chris has been featured ABC World News with Charlie Gibson, Start Up Nation radio, The Rockingham News, and WCCM AM 1490. Once they found her site, journalists knew they would have a winning interview and story because of Chris’s decision to be candid with her personality and her story on the website.
Success Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to reveal the people and the story behind the business
Getting a business off the ground is tough work—especially when you’re running the show solo.Though Chris has a wonderfully supportive husband, he works a full time job as well.With 2 kids and a craft show almost every weekend, this leaves little time for one woman to maintain a website, create packaging, purchase supplies, balance the books, ship orders, and produce the product.
Being an entrepreneur can be overwhelming, scary, and lonely at times, especially in the early days when you really don’t know if anyone even notices your efforts.In order to keep the momentum, Chris talked with other business owners in online forums like Startup Nation, Switchboard, and Momprenuer.This would lead to another critical turning point—one that would introduce her business to millions of people.
Chris visited various message boards to share genuine experiences with others in the community by contributing valuable information and helping others find solutions to problems.Meanwhile, someone at ABC was searching these message boards for interview leads for an upcoming show on mothers who were also entrepreneurs.One night she received a call from ABC, and several weeks later there was a film crew at her house.
Message boards are an ideal place for media scouts because posts reveal a lot about how a person might react in an interview.The person at ABC found her through an introduction post on one of the message boards, visited her site, liked her personality, and called her for the show.
Success Tip #4: Be active on community message boards – offer genuine advice and become part of the community.
At the time of our interview, The Dippy Chick Company hadn’t even reached its second year anniversary.Chris is still in awe about her success and is the first to admit that it did not begin as a grand vision.Things just fell into place as she made decisions that were in line with her ideals and her personality.
Dippy Chick dips are sold in 60 stores across the country. If there isn’t a store in your area, pick up a few of these amazing dips on the Dippy Chick website and support a fellow entrepreneur!