Would you like to find out how other people just like you, with a passion for what they are doing, make the transition and turn their idea into an online business?
I have been interviewing small businesses who have already done it, to find out how they managed, and show you what is ( and isn’t) really required to take the plunge and develop a successful presence online.
LIZ GREEHY and AILISH CONNOLLY. KILBAHA GALLERY LOOPHEAD.
Why did you start an online business?
“We started because our families are both steeped in art, and we wanted to do what we love in the place we love.”
If you have never been to Kilbaha Gallery at the tip of the Loophead Peninsula I have to explain that it is a small building in a remote location. You could be fooled into thinking it is not worth the journey.
Because of the location the Gallery was super busy during the summer season and then cut back to nothing once it was over. It was the seasonality of the bricks and mortar business that first concentrated the girls focus to develop the business by taking their Gallery online.
From the beginning they realised the move online was not simply a website it was their second shop that magically allowed the remoteness of their location to disappear and gave them access to an international market.
What platform is your website?
Our website is set up on Wordpress but we took our time before we started.
The move online was considered, carefully researched, and took at least a year to complete. Realising how important it was for the future of the gallery the girls set about the task with forensic attention to detail.
“We realise now that we were fortunate to have started a few years prior to the covid website rush, that allowed us the luxury of taking our time.”
First, we checked out the local web developers, it was important to us to work with a local business, and we decided to go with the best we could afford, and the one with a phenomenal track record.
We also spent hours scanning the globe for the Gallery websites to work out the best ideas we could incorporate into the clear vision we had for our new website.
We have such a good relationship with the web developers which has continued to evolve along with the ongoing development of the website. We absolutely love it and are constantly thinking about how we can add to it or change it. The web developers also contribute and are always coming up with ideas for what we can do next.
Our website is our second shop, and we treat it exactly the same as our bricks and mortar store, with constant care and attention to detail.
How do your customers find you?
Customers find our website online via our social media and by organic searches.
We have our holy trinity of Linkedin Instagram and facebook, that is the core of our social media but we also use twitter pinterest and google. It is a focused and fundamental part of our day EVERY DAY to attend to our social media.
Our knowledge of SEO has gradually improved with additional training we have had to learn on the job but have a much better understanding now of how to use key words and look at the analytics to help us progress our online presence.
What is the best bit about your business?
“Working with each other”
This response was so powerful and immediate it completely sums up the reason the gallery is such a powerhouse of energy, professionalism, fun and laughter. It is no surprise given their family history, hard work determination and personality that the Gallery has earned a seriously respected reputation both within the Art world and a as “not to be missed” destination on the Loophead peninsula.
“we are literally living the dream” We love the synergy and the energy that comes from combining our work with our family.
Allowing family to be at the heart of our business, being sisters-in-law, having our children growing up watching us work together as a family and as part of a community.
“Bringing our children up to appreciate that running a business is incredibly hard work but combining that with our shared values of being deeply involved with our local community is a lifestyle choice we are proud of.”
As well as running the Gallery both girls are immersed in a wide variety of local community projects.
“How many businesses get text messages on Christmas morning from their customers just to wish you well and let you know that you are an important part of their life?”
What is the worst bit of the business?
We have desperately missed seeing our staff and our customers during the lockdowns, not having face to face interaction has been terrible, it was the saddest day when we had to shut down. Fortunately, partly because we were already set up online, we have managed to retain our staff.
Getting everything and we mean everything organised, knowing that when we serve a cup of coffee the recycling is all arranged the wheely bins have a system in place, every step is planned, it takes a lot of discipline to create a business that works properly. After a few nasty surprises in year one, we set too and made sure never to be caught out again.
Another constant problem has been distinct lack of high-quality fibre broadband in our remote location.
What has been the biggest surprise?
The loyalty and the level of emotional attachments we have forged through the business, this includes the customers who regularly visit our Gallery, the Artists we feature and our staff who we have nurtured from leaving cert through to young professionals.
They have all become a part of the story of our lives.
What can you learn from Liz and Ailish
The short answer is “a great deal!”
This dynamic pair of super smart businesswomen have made so many clever moves it hard to know where to begin.
The girls are living proof that you can develop a successful internationally recognised business from a remote location with the use of modern technology.
Right from the start the website was thought of as their second shop and given all the same care, attention to detail, research, budget and creativity they had already applied to the Gallery
They scoured the world for the best inspiration and ideas.
They allocated as much budget as they could possibly afford.
They took time to find the right website developer.
They have developed an ongoing relationship with the same web developer to continue the process.
They gave themselves time to do it properly.
They dedicate time to self-development of their own digital skills.
Their digital content is a priority for the Gallery every single day.
They have set up processes to ensure that the quality of their digital content is consistent and to the highest standard.
Every aspect of their digital presence is given the same attention as their bricks and mortar store.
VISION & VALUES:
The same clarity of vision and values runs through every aspect of the business.
Our vision for the Gallery was that “Anybody and everybody who walked into the Gallery would feel welcome weather they came for a coffee and to spend a few Euro or are serious art collectors investing thousands.”
Perhaps the best thing of all you can learn from the Gallery is the priceless gift of picking the right business partner in the first place.
You can see Kilbaha Gallery here
If you have found this story inspiring and would like to find out more about how to get your business set up online, why not contact me for a Free Trading Online Voucher consultation. Book your here.