We have recently seen an increase in small businesses owned by women, which is really empowering and inspiring. However, some of them are struggling to achieve their sales goals or unable to market their products properly. Not having enough knowledge about the right marketing techniques can affect small businesses greatly. Therefore, we talked to Sarah Alkahery and she told us everything you need to know about small business hacks and marketing techniques, so keep reading for the full interview.
1. Tell us more about you and your studies.
I'm 25 years old and I studied Marketing in the MIU. I didn't know what I wanted to do (and I still feel that I don't). Getting into Instagram was a mere coincidence. I kept quitting my full-time jobs and I felt like I didn't know what I wanted to do. I also felt like a complete failure for not being able to stay in one job for more than 6 months. I then quit my second full-time job (again) after 3 months and I started my Instagram account. I didn't know what to do or how to go about it, but I figured I was jobless anyways and had nothing to lose. After about 6 months or so, I got offered a position as the digital marketing specialist for the MENA region in one of the biggest elevator companies in the world. I worked there and I learned a lot, but I was very unhappy, which made me very angry at myself because it was a good job. The pay was good and the environment was amazing, but I was the problem. After exactly 1 year, I quit and started focusing on Instagram on March 22 and the rest is history.
I love reading and diving. I can't go more than 3 months without diving. I also knit when I have the time. Fun fact about me: I am an introvert and I have a very small circle of friends.
2. Your account shares awesome marketing hacks for small business owners; why did you decide to have this platform? And why is it for females only?
I chose Instagram because it's a platform I love (no offense to Tiktok) and it was also an easy platform to use. From my marketing background, I knew that visuals always sell better, so I chose the platform with the most diverse type of visuals.
The reason I choose females is because I faced a lot of sexism when I first started. I am young and I look young; I am also a woman. Men didn't take me seriously and most men I worked with would mansplain my job to me. So, I decided to specialize in helping women because I figured that other women may be facing the same discrimination I was facing. I am also a feminist and I believe in women empowerment; I love helping women and I love seeing other women grow to be financially independent.
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3. From your experience, what are the most common difficulties that women face when starting their own business?
Something I hear from a lot of my clients, especially young mothers, is the lack of support they get. Women are encouraged to be submissive and to be small. This is not what owning your business is about. A Lot of women don't have the support they need to start. This is why I started my YouTube channel (Sarah Alkahery). I wanted to offer free resources for women who want to start but are not getting the support they need from their loved ones. Plenty of my clients started off by coming home from work, doing the household chores, taking care of her kids, and building a business before bedtime. The level of determination and energy this requires is beyond me.
Women need more support in the business field. There are several platforms that provide mentorship and financial aid, but I also think getting emotional and mental help is more important. Starting a business is very hard. I struggle with my mental health because of my business. I am constantly stressed out and I can't sleep most nights and I know this is the case for a lot of my clients. This is why I started the "Support circle." I have an exclusive Facebook group for my clients. I post lots of helpful tips for them and we do a support circle once every month and a half. The idea of the support circle is that my clients come to my home and we talk about how they are feeling and their problems. Many women discuss the emotional strain of starting a business. They all help each other and share helpful advice. It's always good to have a support group that is there for you emotionally.
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4. And what are the biggest mistakes small business owners make that risk the success of their projects?
The biggest mistake I have seen so far is limiting yourself. I made this mistake when I first started and it took me a while to understand that my own limiting beliefs are the reason I couldn't grow. If you want to grow your business, you have to believe in it. I used to call my business "small" until I stopped and it grew.
I see this with my clients all the time. Whenever I ask them where they want their business to be in a year, they give me very small and very humbling goals. That’s why we work on their goals first and then we start talking about their strategy.
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5. Briefly, what are the main 3 things that every small business owner needs to do to succeed?
A- Don't be a perfectionist. You need to start at some point. Don't focus on the little details; look at the big picture.
B- Take care of your mental health. You are your business. If you don't take care of your body and mind, you will burn out and stop eventually.
C- Be consistent. Don't start big. Take small consistent steps until you get there.
Bonus: Be patient. Your business will not grow overnight.
6. What is the least amount of money a person needs to have to start a small business?
You don't need money to start a business; you need time. I would say you can start with 5k EGP.
7. What is the best and worst Instagram feature for business owners?
Your analytics is the most important tool you need. Marketing and business are all based on numbers. Look at your numbers, analyze them, and make decisions.
The worst feature is literally having the ability to look at other accounts. Don't search for your competitors' accounts and compare your account to theirs. You're doing okay.
Every other tool, if used right, will get you awesome results.
8. Tell us more about the workshops you offer?
I offer different workshops depending on what my client’s needs are.
The first option is an open Q&A with me and it's a 1:1 session, where we get to have an open discussion about her business. The second option is the strategy session, where I create a strategy for her and give it to her to implement it in her business. I ask my client about her lifestyle and we discuss how she’s going to implement the strategy to get results. I have clients who post once a month on Instagram and clients who post 10 times a day. It's very customizable.
The biggest and best-selling program I offer is the Golden Program and the VIP Group coaching. The Golden program is 1:1 and the VIP Group coaching is in groups. In both programs, I teach my clients how to create a strategy for their business to sell. They learn everything they need to grow their business on Instagram. This program’s duration is 3 months.
I also have different mini courses that I do once every 2 to 3 months. The purpose of the mini courses is to help give their business a push to grow.
I don't teach marketing and theories; I teach my clients how to grow their sales. This means that I don't teach them big words and things they will not use in their day to day work. As a business owner, you just need to know what will work for your business and what will not. Efficiency is key here.
9. What is your biggest achievement that makes you really proud?
My biggest achievement is getting my diving license. I know it sounds silly, but I am very proud of it!
10. What can you say to all the women who want to start their own business but are hesitant to do so?
Just start! You will always be hesitant, but you need to start. You are your worst enemy. The second thing I would tell them is to get help when needed. Never be scared to ask for help.