Sandi Krakowski

My Very Successful Business BEFORE Google

When people hear my story of building my first $4 million dollar business, they often make comments like, "Well things came easy for you. You had it made. It's so hard for me." Little do they know that they have it made TODAY, as a small business owner and they have tools and opportunity online that I never had when I started.

My first online business, a kitchenware store, was created when Lycos and WebCrawler were our available search engines. Back in the early-1990's, BEFORE GOOGLE, we didn't have social media, videos, smartphones or any of the incredible tools small business owners have now. Our ONLY way to market was to purchase pay-per-click ads with the current search engines, and enter into bid-wars on a daily basis, hoping our product would be seen before someone else. (Now you know why I love Facebook Ads and have just a little to teach you about PPC ads, I've been doing them for years!) 

So how did I compete with big names like SurLaTable and I approached my business just like I do today- with authentic marketing that served the customer and gave service that was different than anyone else.

I pretty much put several of the kitchenware items we sold on the map when it came to online marketing. At the time I started my first online company, they weren't even being sold online yet! They were only available through the manufacturer and in private locations, in one on one demonstartions. Most of the suppliers thought I was completely crazy to attempt to sell these items online, especially during the time period when I got started: right in the middle of the dot com bust. But I proved that while everyone else was busting, I could profit and succeed.

Take a little tour down memory lane and visit this site, which gives in great detail the history of search engines.  When I was marketing my first business I spent hours and hours a day competing with other advertisers through PPC. People would increase their bid every few minutes at times and if we weren't careful, we'd be sucked into a downward pull and be thrown to the fourth or fifth page of the search engines without any warning.

At that time online, meta tags were super important and having the right keywords in your copy made all the difference. But getting traffic to your site, where people stayed, shopped and came back over and over again was very important and very different than what you have today. We didn't have Facebook pages where I could answer people's questions or show my life like we have today. We had good ole fashioned bulletin boards and forums, that had to be moderated and watched constantly. No videos, all I could do was piece photos together and 'tell a story'. 

I was active and profiting long before the guys at Google changed everything for us all.  I remember that day when they came out of no where and had dreams and ideas that people throught were crazy. Enrolling as one of the first remnant accounts was exciting, because I was able to now control my search engine bids through a platform that was better than Lycos, WebCrawler or even Overture, which was later purchased by Yahoo.

As you can tell from the photo above my 'first' business skills were nothing like I possess now. Before I met my first web designer or a team that taught me how to lay out an ecommerce store, I had nothing but links and copy. At that time I called it 'words that sell' and not copywriting. I didn't even know what that was. 

Here I am today. WOW can you say I've come a long way baby? 

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Here are my top three secrets for building a successful business that I used then and I'm still using every single day in the current company that I own:

Key #1:  Never sell anything you can't give your entire heart to. Some people can successfully market anything, but it's always been my conviction that if I wouldn't use it myself, I'm definitely not going to sell it to you. Authentic marketing is most effective when your buyers can tell you are truly passionate about what you do.

Key #2: You don't have to have everything perfect when you first start out but be willing to tell your customers you'll do anything you can to serve them well. So many small business owners I meet are 'waiting' until everything is set up and perfect to build their business. The bottom line is, if you don't have people to market to you are in big trouble. This means no sales. Learn as you go and interact with people on social media. Be willing to tell your customers that you'll do anything you can to serve them, but be humble enough to also tell them you're just starting out. Honesty is a great policy and faking it until you make it doesn't work.

Key #3: BE YOURSELF. I've always brought God into my businesses. As a matter of fact, I really don't know how to run a business without Him. My first taste of entrepreneurship was when I was a single mommy running a cleaning business and I made my way into the Urgent Care Healthcare industry. I prayed over my work, prayed over the places I went to. God has always been my business partner and I'm not worried about what people think. Funny thing is, most people welcome my perspective and because I am truly being myself, even if their beliefs are different, they love me. I'm not using God to sell products and I'm certainly not trying to change the world and make everyone like me. Love is my motivator and loving others as I want to be loved has served me well in the business world. It even landed me a very successful column in Entrepreneur Magazine! So be true to you, people will honor you for that.

Thank you, for allowing me to impact your life in any small way that I can. It's truly my honor to serve you and love you through business.

With love and ALOHA! (I'm in Hawaii vacationing right now!) 

Sandi Krakowski