If you sell ““ or want to sell ““ your handmade creations “¦ congratulations! You are entering a new adventure as business manager, in addition to your role as artist, designer or crafter. Luckily for you, there are infinite resources available to you. Less luckily, some resources are more valuable than others. This new column focuses on the skills, knowledge and tools that will help you manage your business.
I’m Brenda, by night owner of my own online handmade business (Phydeaux Designs at Etsy), by day manager of finance and administration at a top-ranked University. When I started my own online shop, I used business skills obtained via experience and education. Ive gone on to learn a great deal more about online business management, and continue to learn every day!
Every small business owner wants to be successful. Otherwise, why bother? However, the definition of “success” may differ, based on individual goals and desires. Perhaps you just want to make pocket money. Perhaps you want to become the next Martha Stewart. In either case, you will need to pick up a few basic business management skills.
First, there is no universal “one size fits all” formula for online selling success, despite what other sellers will tell you. In Craft Venture, we wont be talking about a universal success formula. Instead, well talk about the skills and tools that youll need to learn and grow as a business person. Youll learn to manage your business more efficiently and effectively, allowing more time for you to create.
One universal business truth is this: owning your own small business is plain, old fashioned hard work involving long hours. If you understand this, you can decide how big or small you want your business to be. Do you have a support structure of family and friends that will help you? Will your partner help you with packaging and shipping, or resent the time not spent with him/her? Are you able to do this fulltime, or part time during nights and weekends?
Hard work and long hours doesnt mean spending the majority of your day “marketing” in the forums or chat rooms of your particular online market. You want the highest return possible on your investment of time (“return on investment” or “ROI”). If youre just starting out, research! Spend time looking closely at the successful online shops and blogs that you admire. Contact a couple of sellers for advice!
In the beginning, youll put in phenomenal hours just learning the basics of setting up your shop and managing your business. Once youve acquired a solid basic skill set, youll spend more time improving your shop and learning additional business skills. This cycle will continue until your shop attracts steady traffic ““ even steady sales ““ and you no longer struggle just to figure out shipping! The improvement and learning process never really ends, but with each cycle, you’ll learn more efficiently and effectively.
I don’t say this to scare you! The work is hard, the hours are long, and you should love (nearly) every minute of it! You will celebrate every sale and new skill learned, making the less fun times worthwhile. After all, what can be more fun than showing and selling your work across the globe, all from the comfort of your living room or studio?
Tell us about your own experience ““ is owning a handmade business hard work? How do you manage your time? Are you working on the business and shop basics or are you expanding your skill set?
Next week: online marketplaces and venues – which are for you?