You love to make handcrafted ceramic bowls. Your friends rave about them. A local shop has offered to sell them. Is it time to turn your hobby into a business? The answer could be yes, but only if you’re ready to pay as much attention to the nitty-gritty details of running a business as you are to the art of creating your product.
Before you start a craft business, you should be able to answer “yes” to these questions:
1. Have you determined what it would cost per unit to mass produce your product, and whether you can price it high enough to make a profit?
2. If you got a large order from a wholesaler, could you fulfill it? If not, could you call on other skilled crafters to help you out?
3. Do you have the time and desire to keep tabs on the trends in your market, and the wherewithal to quickly revamp your product line to keep up with those trends?
Gather your raw materialsOne of the most challenging aspects of starting a craft business is unearthing sources for affordable, high-quality supplies and equipment.
Set your pricesCalculate your costs and research what the market will bear for your products. What else do you need to consider before you put a price tag on your merchandise?
Meet your marketAttend national craft shows, wholesale gift shows and similar events to meet the industry’s movers and shakers, and to stay on top of who’s selling what.
Stay on their radarYou don’t have to spend a fortune to create memorable marketing materials to distribute to business contacts as well as family members and friends.
NetPost Premium Postcard Service makes it easy to design your own postcards. Download HP.com's how-to guide for creating a marketing brochure. Entice people to make return visits to your Web site by adding fresh content on a regular basis. That could be in the form of a weekly contest for free merchandise (a good way to introduce new customers to your products). Or start a blog, which you can establish through a service such as Typepad.
Discover your inner accountantRunning a business means recording, juggling and analyzing numbers. Fortunately, there is software for nearly every kind of recordkeeping and number-crunching you might need.
- Before you take on a national marketing campaign, sell your products at local arts and crafts shows. Consider hosting a show at your own home. By starting out on a smaller scale, you can hone your sales techniques and gain insight into your customers’ tastes and buying habits.
- Don’t be too emotionally attached to your craft. Be ready for harsh comments from professional buyers and others in the business. Don’t take it personally. They know what sells and their advice could save your business.
- When looking for outlets that might want to sell your product, go beyond the obvious. Check out Web sites that might relate in any way to your product. Investigate catalogues. Take a second look at retail stores (including chains) that you’ve dismissed as inappropriate. You might be surprised by what they carry.