Sashee Chandran, founder and CEO, Tea Drops, holding a teacup.
Sashee Chandran, founder and CEO of Tea Drops, wanted to elevate and simplify the tea brewing experience. — Tea Drops

Sashee Chandran, founder and CEO of the bagless tea product, Tea Drops, has learned many things since beginning her business in 2015, but the main lesson is simple: persistence is the key to success.

Chandran came up with the idea for her business after being frustrated with her fruitless attempts at making loose leaf tea in the office.

“In a corporate office environment … I lacked appropriate tools – a kettle, strainer and way to measure the tea – and time,” she said. “I wanted a simpler tea preparation that still appreciated the loose leaf tea experience. That sent me down a path of experimenting and creating Tea Drops.”

Chandran created her product, which she describes as “bath bombs” for the tea world, and made it 15% less wasteful than traditional tea bags.

Persistent media outreach efforts can pay off for product-based businesses

Creating a business from scratch wasn’t an easy journey, and gaining traction took time. However, with some strategic DIY PR initiatives, Chandran was able to successfully grow and expand Tea Drops.

“For the first few years, I would reach out directly to a lot of publications/journalists on Twitter and send product samples regularly,” Chandran said. “That actually paid off a lot! I was surprised how open and receptive writers were.”

[Read more: A Complete Business Guide to Public Relations]

Still, Tea Drops didn’t get instant publicity. Based on her own experiences, Chandran advises other product-based entrepreneurs to be persistent in sending samples and following up.

“I sent many magazine samples diligently for months straight and then [was] surprised when many months later, I saw a feature of Tea Drops, ” she told CO—.

There are so many moving parts to starting a business that it can feel overwhelming. There are hard and discouraging days, but my advice would be to continue to walk the path.

Sashee Chandran, founder and CEO, Tea Drops

Accepting rejection and finding the strength to move forward

As a small business owner, Chandran knows that if you want to succeed, you can’t give up in the face of rejection. Even when things get tough, you need to keep going.

“There are so many moving parts to starting a business that it can feel overwhelming,” said Chandran. “There are hard and discouraging days, but my advice would be to continue to walk the path.”

Chandran added that her favorite Rumi quote, “As you walk, the way appears,” inspired her during her early days in business.

“I found that to be true for myself: The more I stayed the course and just kept moving forward, the clearer things became about what I should do next,” she said.

[Read more: 6 Franchise Owners Share Their Secrets for Finding New Customers]

Listen to your customers and give them a voice

To grow your customer base and gain a loyal following, Chandran believes you should listen to your customer’s opinions and give them a voice as you develop your business.

By doing things like offering brand ambassador positions, writing a blog to personalize your brand and creating rewards programs, customers will feel a connection to your business, and will be more personally invested in seeing your company succeed.

“The more you can get your customers involved in your development process or with your company, the more invested they feel in your success and the direction of the business,” she said.

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