Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tips On Running Your Own Small Business

A team mate from Etsy asked about how people make their small businesses work. I did this post and thought I would add it to my blog.

I have no other choices for work at the moment. About five years ago I got really sick. I was one year from graduation with a bachelors in Landscape Architecture. The pressure from school, a new marriage and trying to sell our house just broke me. It took me about 5 years to get to the point I am now where I am happy and healthy.

Art has been a massive outlet for me in getting better as well and finding something that makes me feel useful. Don’t get me wrong, my husband’s income is what pays the bills but I can do ok for my self when my business is in full swing. I thought I could put some ideas out there that you might like.

My mom ran a small shop selling consignment. In our small town that didn’t really pay the mortgage so she started doing classes. She did knitting and ceramics but teaching people a small craft like that really draws a crowed.

Other outlets really help your business bloom. About 85% of my sales come from word of mouth. Talking to every single person you meet and telling them about what you do and why they can’t live with out it works great. I have done most of my networking through the internet. I am a gamer and have found a lot of business through friends I have met there but for the non nerd there is blog networking, twitter and emailing people with WebPages about interests similar to yours. True story. A lady wrote this awesome article about how to make healthy candles. Through me emailing her with a question about them we developed a friendship and she bought three of my rock lamps.

Every time a friend says to me “Oh, I can’t hang out this weekend because I am going to my so - in -so’s birthday I say “Hey…. Need a gift?” People rarely plan for the event they are going to and will hop out to the mall to get some gift they put little thought into so if you get to them before they make that silly purchase you can grantee a sale and make them look like the hero for buying a hand made thoughtful gift. I always tell them the story behind the piece too and they repeat it to the person receiving the gift. It just makes it so much cooler.
Outside of the house displays of your work is great. I am not a huge fan of consignment but if you can find someone who will buy your work up front and put it in their shop that works great. I have done shows but have found never to mess around in small towns. Small towns tend to be filled with people who think because its hand made they could make it them selves even though they can’t and probably wont. I did best at shows in bigger areas with a little bit of cash.

Mixing in small ticket items with the big really helps. I have sold a lot of personal jewelry in the $15 - $20 range and then would sandwich them in with some bigger sales like lamps. My best bet is selling to a business that needs several of an item. I keep thinking your baskets would be amazing in a yarn shop. If you know anyone opening a yarn shop go forth and conquer!

I have started to do a give away to my friends with active blogs. I will be doing this more after I get unpacked from my move. My hope is they can try out my lil candle samples I made and rave about them so their friends will try them as well.

I was tossing this last idea around a little. I don’t know what the technical end of it would be but I thought it would be neat if hand made artists did little shows like Pampered Chef or Avon folks do. I mean think about it. Your friends could come in, sit down and order the real deal! My friends drop butt loads of cash on stuff made in China when they could get real rustic home decor from someone like you!

Well, thanks for reading my long winded list of ideas. I am not a raving success by any means but I still think they are awesome ideas and I have done or plan to do all of them my self. Good luck on your shop. I love your work and your blog.

- Connie
A Wandering Soul

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