If you have a passion for crafting and your handmade designs are admired by friends and family, you consider setting up a creative business. However, before you make the leap from hobby crafter to business owner, here are five key areas you should consider.
1. Do I Possess a True Desire To Sell What I Make?
The answer to this might seem obvious, but it is a question which needs to be given some thought. For example, when you make items for loved ones it could be a labour attached with a lot of love and affection. When you are making items to sell, you will need to approach matters a little more pragmatically. Sometimes this leads to the sad fact that the joy of creation is squashed by the demands of making the sale.
You might also need to consider that while many of your customers will love what you create, you will encounter those with a critical eye. Constructive criticism should always be at least reflected on, as it can often lead to improvements, but nonetheless it can still hurt.
2. Do I Have Enough Time?
You might be considering running your craft business as a part-time endeavour alongside full-time employment, a busy family life or even both. While this is entirely possible, you will need to find at least some time for all the basic duties such a venture will entail, such as bookkeeping and general administration. This is in addition to the time required to make the stock and to market and sell it.
If you are extremely short on time, you don’t need to necessarily discard the whole idea of selling what you make, but you might need to accept that it will take you longer to build your business.
3. Do I Have the Inclination to Run a Business?
A business does not revolve solely around what you sell. You also need to factor in matters of finance, legal issues and taxation. You will need to either research these topics yourself, if you are low on funds and need to bootstrap the business, or employ the services of experts, such as lawyers and accountants.
When you are first launching your business and money is scarce, it will probably be necessary to do everything yourself. Even if you have assistance, you should at least gain an appreciation of business basics, so that you are not taken advantage of and so that you don’t make any costly mistakes. Don’t let these factors deter you, but do go forward with the awareness that you will need to do research or ask for help when needed. There are many resources available for small businesses, both on and offline, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
4. Am I Willing to Learn New Skills?
When you are thinking about where to sell your handmade items a multi-pronged approach will be vital. Many people start out by selling at local craft fairs and this is a great way to garner interest for what you make and to gain valuable customer feedback.
To take your wares to a wider audience however, you will find it beneficial to sell online. To do this you will need to master some technical skills, some straightforward, such as adding your items to an online marketplace such as Etsy, some more advanced, such as building a blog or creating your own website. These progressions in your business will come down to both your level of technical mastery and to what you are willing to learn.
5. Am I Willing to Promote What I Make?
Finally, and in many respects most importantly, we come to the areas of sales and marketing. To be successful, you are going to need to be willing to spread the word about how great your products are. Not in a boastful way, but in a manner which impresses on the customer how beneficial it will be to own one of your beautiful designs. You will also need to be able to develop skills of self-promotion: social marketing, blogging and networking are all vital parts of being an artisan in the 21st century.
These five questions can be daunting to consider, but if you can answer “yes” to all five of them, then you have the potential to make a success of your new venture. You don’t need all the essential skills from the outset, but you do need to be willing to learn and you will often need to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. It will be through both learning new skills and through taking action, that you will be able to build the foundations of a thriving handmade business.