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It’s a shop Jim but not as we know it because, there’s Clingons on the starboard bow

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Trust me. There really are Clingons.

No, I’m not spelling it wrong. It’s just a different type of Clingon. And, it’s available at a different kind of shop.

Six months ago two Brisbane-based mums were having a chat, actually it was a whinge, about how difficult it was find interesting stuff online.

They had both spent years collecting unique objects from markets and quirky little stores. Finding things like this online proved to be a marathon effort. So, they did what any good entrepreneur would do, they started their own business, Minimohs.

Minimohs is an online marketplace with a variety of stall holders. Think of it like a virtual weekend market except that it’s open all the time. There are items for sale here that you simply will not find elsewhere.

How do they find such unique products?

There are two strategies to selling online. Either you sell the same things as everyone else but at a different price point. Or, you sell something unique. Minimohs are walking the path to uniqueness.

“We develop a wish list of products that we want to showcase on the site,” explained Natrice Grosvenor, the store’s Co-Founder. “We want things that are innovative, quirky and certainly a bit different.”

This is where the Clingons come into it.

Clingons are a no-nails, reusable alternative to hung picture frames. It’s a patented technology that allows these frames to be re-movable, re-usable, re-positional, and indestructible. They are made from an innovative self adhesive polyester fabric that can be installed on virtually any surface in any weather condition. There is no warrior-based, feudal system here, just a patented technology that allows you to hang family pictures on your walls.

“Part of our business strategy is to not offer a ‘apply to sell’ option on our site. We attract our wish list sellers by the advertising that we do. This have enabled us to have a vast array of really interesting products on the site,” Grosvenor explained.

A quick browse of the marketplace reveals that this business strategy has worked. The products are unique. This simple, yet effective business strategy harnesses many of Porter’s Five Forces. By offering unique products supplied by unique suppliers, this limits the source of the products and thus, competitors.

Sharing six months of intense learning

Minimohs is only six months into its life. Anthill asked these self-funded startup Founders what are the things they know now that they didn’t when they started.

1. We now understand SEO

“Prior to the launch in October 2012, I didn’t even know what SEO stoof for. I knew it was important but, I didn’t know why!” explains Grosvenor. “Since doing a crash course in the principals of SEO, the company now has an active search strategy to build site traffic.”

2. That a website really never is finished

“When I first heard that staying ‘a website site is never finished’, I thought we were going to be different,” laughed Grosvenor. “A site of this magnitude requires constant attention. We are forever looking for ways to streamline process to make them more user-friendly. We measure what works, what doesn’t and then adjust things accordingly.”

3. Being first to market doesn’t always matter

“Our initial thought was that we had to be first to market. But, once we’d gone through the market research phase we realised that it wasn’t important to be first. It was important to get it right,” explained Grosvenor.

“The philosophy behind the Minimoh site is simplicity. We want the site to be simple to use, easy and convenient. This was more important than being first.”

4. Business partnership do matter

“We learnt early on that aligning yourself with other small businesses and developing strategic partnerships is really important. You can’t outsource everything but, by networking with out entrepreneurs who were willing to swap skills, we all benefited,” said Grosvenor.

5. Sometimes you need to learn the hard way

“There’s not a day that goes by where I haven’t learned something, sometimes the hard way,” explained Grosvenor. “If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn from them. You cannot better yourself.”

6. Parenthood and entrepreneurism do mix

“I’ve learned that perfectionism is over rated,” said Grosvenor. “Each day is as unpredictable as the next when you work with young children running around. You might have back-to-back meetings planned one day and then your child is ill, so there goes your schedule. So long as you understand the need for flexibility, have a great support network and you are happy with what you have achieved, you’re having a good day.”

“When you have a small window of opportunity to get something done, you go into ‘power productivity mode’. I used to be tedious and pedantic about minor details. Now, I just don’t have the time to sweat the small stuff. Now I focus on the bigger picture things,” she explained.

And, that is good advice for every entrepreneur in the midst of building a company or, about to start one. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

(Image source: Wikipedia, Klingon Insignia designed by Matt Jeffries)

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