Lyn Allure started marketing for her future businesses long before she even realized she would become an entrepreneur. When Lyn was in university, she started a YouTube channel as a creative outlet. But as the channel grew, so did her opportunity to turn it into a side hustle.
Then the side hustle turned into a full-time job. And the full-time job has encompassed several new businesses, from a hair extensions store on Shopify to a personal finance community and now real estate investing.
Lyn joined a special live episode of Shopify Masters to share her advice for budding entrepreneurs and content creators. Here are some of the takeaways:
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1. Be authentic to build your following
If there’s one piece of advice Lyn has for growing an audience, it would be to come as you are. Lyn urges founders to embrace the fact the internet is big and can provide many more opportunities to connect with people.
“If you are yourself, you give people who are looking for you the chance to find you,” Lyn says. “You cultivate a community that is truly there for you and what you have to speak about. If you put up a facade, it’s hard to maintain that and you create a community that is interested in a version of you that doesn’t really exist.”
Lyn has found that having someone on-camera, either yourself or a brand ambassador, also helps people develop a closer connection to the business.
2. Get product inspiration from your audience
Lyn didn’t start her businesses with a product. She started with a YouTube audience. It wasn’t until her viewers started asking whether she would sell the hair extensions in her videos that she thought of opening an online store.
“My audience kind of gave me the idea to do it,” she says.
Lyn found a supplier of her favorite hair extensions, built her website, and shared it on YouTube. Her store sold out in just five days.
3. You don’t need a lot of money to start an online business
As Lyn puts it, she’s risk-averse when it comes to investments, because she knows what it’s like to be poor. In fact, she was able to start her first business on just $100 by using a dropshipping model. And she re-invested the money she made into her next businesses. She actually didn’t quit her job and pursue entrepreneurship full time until she was out-earning her 9-to-5 job as an accountant.
“Sometimes people think they need to get a business loan and invest thousands of dollars to start something up,” Lyn says. “That isn’t necessarily the case.”
She encourages entrepreneurs to take advantage of the free resources available online, like YouTube videos and other online communities, to learn about how to start businesses and use credit strategically.
4. Don’t ask for a seat at the table—build your own table
Lyn has shown her audience that it’s possible to build a business on a small investment, and that’s particularly important for her to share with people like herself—women of color. Going into business is one way for marginalized people to gain acceptance in spaces where they might have felt out of place before.
“I think it’s really important for you to identify ways to create your own table,” Lyn says. “If you find yourself constantly begging for a seat at the table or having to change who you are in order to keep your seat at the table, identify ways to build your own.”
5. Own your traffic sources
Diversifying where your traffic comes from is one way founders and content creators can build their table with more agency. Lyn realized she didn’t want to be so dependent on her YouTube traffic.
“I learned to create an email list and have that direct dialogue with my community that doesn’t rely on how the algorithm gods are feeling that day,” she says.
And that direct line to her followers has given her another outlet to share authentic content and keep the business cycle going and growing.
Take a listen to Lyn’s full interview on Shopify Masters to find out more about how you can build an audience and monetize it. This episode is part of our ongoing Learn with Shopify Live series.