Thursday, February 28, 2013

Still Thinking About a Business?

If you read Just Getting Started, you know we are taking a look at what to consider if you are thinking about turning that hobby into a legitimate business. By "legitimate" I mean you are going to register with the government (ugh) and pay you taxes like you should. Enough said...

I have been in marketing almost my whole life. Whether I was selling products or services for my own business (yeah, I had a marketing business...till I got cancer...I'm fine now), or working for someone else in sales and marketing, I have learned quite a few ins and outs of doing my best to "get the word out" and create awareness that can lead to sales. It's time for me to share what I have learned and will welcome comments and questions.

writingToday I want to focus on whether or not you should take your craft (artistry) to the next level, but I am going to start at the very beginning. You may already have a business on Etsy or Artfire, or even have your own website, but you may need to revisit this information before moving on.

There are several questions you have to ask yourself if you make handmade things. Some of these questions will need to be answered honestly and with a clear head. That means don't make decisions with a drink in your hand! Ok, get your tablet and pencil out and make sure you have a great eraser. If you are like me, you will change your answers more than once, and the answers will evolve as you do.
  1. Is there a demand for what I make? This is Marketing 101. You need to be serious enough about what you do to do a little research. That doesn't mean you have to write out a marketing plan or business plan, unless you want a storefront someday. Just because you sold a few pieces at work doesn't mean that you can quit your job and go into business supporting you and your three kids. Be reasonable, but be energetic. Find out how many others do what you do to try to make money. Visit some of the popular sites. Put your search info into Google or your favorite search engine. You will be surprised what you find...both positive and negative.
  2. If this project doesn't go my way in the first few months, will I quit? Be honest! How many of you have started projects in the past, only to put them down when you didn't get the pats you were looking for or you tired of the project all together in a month or two? That means you didn't really love it in the first place. If you are going to to do something to make money, you need to love the heck out of it. It's gonna be hard and it's going to be discouraging. How's your faith? From personal experience, and my family will attest to this, I have done a lot of stuff and done it "professionally." It wasn't until I found jewelry that I really hit on something I want to stick with for life. Is what you are doing now your life's love? Will you defend it?
  3. Do I want to do this to supplement my income or because I want to share what I do with the world because I want to artistically express myself? It IS a legitimate question. It ties into the other two questions I posed above. Are you tied to what you do because you love to do it (probably signifies longevity of production), or  are you looking for a quick buck? Trust me...there is nothing wrong with wanting to make money on the things we are probably going to make anyway. But a quick buck doesn't exist long term unless you are doing something illegal. I do NOT recommend that!! Everything I have done in the past, I have tried to turn into a business to make money with, much to the chagrin of my family. So, I can speak from experience, both good and bad. Think about it, though. Are you willing to do what it takes to get your product in front of the public or will you sit in a corner and cry the first time someone makes a snide comment about what you do? If the latter, get out now! You will never make it and professional counseling is reallllly expensive!
This is enough for you to think about right now. Like I said, write down how you feel about these questions? Sure, some of you may have never even considered having a business of any kind, but if you, as a consumer, think about these questions, too, you might be a little more conscious of what you say about a product the next time you walk into a booth at your local craft fair. Most likely, the person that made that product probably put their heart and soul into it.

If you are just starting out, these are questions you need to ask yourself over and over. Will I defend my craft to some one that won't even try? Am I willing to stick to the plan, even if it is just swimming around in my little pea brain? Will I see it through thick and thin, or until my spouse burns down my work area? Will I love, honor, and cherish it? Will I honor others that do what I do? That means not copying someone's work!

For those of us that have been around the business block a time or two, these are things we constantly need to think about, too. The marketplace is an ever changing beast, just like the consumers that are part of it. Styles change, need changes, etc., and we have to be willing to absorb all of that. Whether we change with it to conform or stick to our original plan will be determined by how you answered the three questions above.

Just remember, it is only complicated if we make it so. And we don't have to defeat ourselves before we start because we don't know where to start. Maybe this blog will help you along and add a little humor to what seems like an all consuming process. I will be giving you links to other resources or blogs that may answer some of your questions, as well. I will work hard to make your work a little easier.

Next time I will talk about how to start getting your name out there...basically how to start to brand yourself. It's easier than it sounds and doesn't cost much if it's done right. Really!
Hope you enjoyed this little tidbit of information. Don't forget to contact me with questions or concerns. I read 'em all! Hugs and keep up the good work!

Stay Wired Up! Gail

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