Amy Butler interview will appear here tomorrow, Hurray!! Tomorrow. Hurray!!
I was on the phone with Denise today who was inquiring about the size of some metal rings, and we ended up talking for the best part of an hour about our love of craft and going into business to sell our handiwork. In the time I have been running my shop I have had lots of phone and email conversations just like this one with folks just like Denise. These chats give me the warm fuzzies because it's sooo wonderful when women (and men - Hi Ryan) decide to take the plunge and unleash their creativity on the world.
The best thing about wanting to go into business in this day and age, is we that have the wonderful Internet, and the trend for craft fairs and market selling. These two avenues enable people to be in business without spending huge amounts of money and without chucking in the day job (perhaps prematurely!).
I have already written quite a few posts on Bag Selling & Business Advice (which I will keep writing more of), but I haven't really touched upon 'making the decision to go for it'. So Denise (who already has decided to go for it, with a website and all) this post is for you!
Emotion as a deciding factor (to go for it!):
- So, you made quite a few bag, vases, clothes etc. and they've been really welcome presents to your friends and family, You've even sold some to neighbors and colleagues at work for a reasonable (e.g. not dirt cheap) price...that's really good because that means that people DO admire your work and other people will pay for it too. So don't put yourself down and think silly dum dum thoughts like 'oh, they're just being nice'.
- You HAVE to be confident in your skills as a craft-isian, you know yourself that you made the items with love and care; you have to believe that other people will see this too, and it would make that same person happy to buy it.
- You also have to really enthusiastic about this, it's gonna be a long hard slog if you don't love what you do. Even if I hadn't told you how much I love my work (which I know I do go on about!), dontcha you think it shows in my shop, and my blog anyway?
Research as a deciding factor:
- The best way to start is not making loads of things to sell. Start the process by researching. Do research before, and during running your business and this will help you to save time, save money, and make money YAY! Check out these great business articles about business start ups for mums (in the UK) or moms (in the US) (cos that's where most of my readers come from!)
- Do have a look through the Business Resource links in the left hand menu bar (and there are also lots more sites available on the web, and some which are likely to run by the local authority in which you live).
- Don't forget to research your market, who is your competion? How is your offering different to what is already available?
- Who would you like your customers to be, can they afford your prices, will they be attracted to your offering, if not (yet) how can you convince your audience that your offering is going to benefit them?
- Check out websites and magazines to see what's hot in your chosen craft.
- I know, I know, questions questions (and that is only some of the questions you need ask!) But the more you can answer (or begin to answer) before you start (and continually ask as your business evolves) the easier, more successful, and haappeeee you'll be! Just jot these questions and all of your other research findings in the one book (rather than paper napkins, old menus, post-it notes etc!). My research for U-Handbag filled up a thick A4 refill pad, I still have it because the info is dead handy, and it's sentimental :)
Funding as a deciding factor:
- I would advise folks to start off small - rather than go bonkers and buy a shop, pretty rope carrier bags, and have glossy catalogues (I can dream, can't I?) I think it's wisest (and I was also advised by Steve) to make money from what you sell and use that money to buy more things, (to make) so you have more things to sell, and so on. This is exactly what I did with my shop. I had a much smaller product range when I first started; I've grown organically. This way I had more control over things and my mistakes (and there always will be mistakes to make!) haven't hurt as much as they would've done had I spent loads starting up my business.
- If you can, get start-up funding in the form of a business grant, look at the business links (in the left hand menu bar) that I just told you about, and check out what grants are available to you. Honestly, you'd be surprised at just what is there for the taking, you may well be eligible! To start hunting for business start up funding in the UK click here, for the US click here, and here. If you don't want to do the grant thing, try asking friends and family for a loan. The thing is to avoid getting a bank loan if you can, they are expensive!
I love to hear about your experiences of going into your own craft business. What advice would you give to others? What things would you do differently? What are your proudest (or lowest) moments? How do you market yourself? etc. Why not share your craft business stories with us? Send me an email (see top left corner of this blog for email add.) with your business gems (and if you like, some pics of your fave stuff for sale), and I'll feature you on my blog.
In return, you'll get that warm fuzzy feeling from helping others out, some free exposure, and a permanent link to your shop on the side bar of this here blog (which I'm happy to say has it's own fair share of readers...who are fabulous, each and very one of you!). The Emoms and Make It blogs have this Guest Post Feature on their blogs, and it works well, perhaps it will take off here too :)