I’ve owned several handmade businesses and I can honestly say that I lacked a futuristic plan. As makers, we get so bogged down in the making and even the selling that we neglect the planning. And the lack of strategic planning is the most common reason why handmade businesses fail.
When crafting a futuristic plan for your sewing, crafting, making or creating business it should include these 5 must-have elements to plan for 5 years:
Determine how you can continue to monetize your business in addition to the handmade goods you currently offer. Evaluate the industry you are currently in and the trajectory of the current trends. The products that you are currently selling may not be hot in 3-5 years. The competition will change and so will the market’s needs. Are there other ways to make money by sharing the knowledge you know about running your business through ebooks or webinars? Is there a product line extension or new product that you can easily add to your offerings? Can you start selling a pattern or tutorial on how to make a similar version of your product?
The most important (and the hardest, and the trickiest) element I had to figure out as my product’s brand awareness increased and as my sales grew exponentially, was how to keep up with product and farm out manufacturing. This is extremely scary for those of us who make our own products and have high expectations for quality. To release and trust the making process to someone else is scary so I avoided it at all cost and it eventually cost me sales because I couldn’t keep up. Start doing research now on local seamstress or small fulfillment companies so you have a solid plan for when sales soar.
I remember getting calls from customers about their orders, and putting them on hold so I could contact my warehouse knowing good and well that the “warehouse” was me. And my shipping department was me. And my billing department was me. And my marketing department was me. Well, at some point in time it becomes impossible to juggle it all. I couldn’t wear all of those hats effectively though I tried. When you get the feeling that it’s time to hire help, don’t ignore it. And don’t fall into the excuse that I used that I can’t afford it. As your business grows you really can’t afford not to. Plan out the steps you will take to hire a VA (virtual assistant), bookkeeper/accountant or even babysitter to help you scale your business.
This goes right along with manufacturing. Look at the ways you currently sell your products and all of the possible new ways you can distribute your products…not just now, but over the next 3-5 years. If you are currently selling on Etsy, think about what it would take to open your own e-commerce shopping cart off of your website to add an additional means of distribution. Research and determine the steps to start drop shipping or selling wholesale to brick and mortar stores. Craft shows may be part of your current distribution, but will the trend of craft shows be same down the line?
Make it a point to educate yourself on your industry, your craft, entrepreneurship and scaling a small business. Again, as makers we get so caught up in the making that we often neglect learning and staying hip to the ever changing world of running a business and all of the resources available to us. Continue to learn from and surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. And tap into those who are thought leaders, predicting shifts and trends within your industry. The online resources for makers are endless and so are face-to-face ones such as conferences.
One of my favorite business conferences for makers is Craftcation. It’s an annual four day business + makers conference featuring a variety of beautiful and smart speakers (including myself) leading attendees in hands-on food & craft workshops, lectures and panels on creative business. Craftcation ignites the entrepreneurial spirit, strengthens craft and business skills and builds relationships in the creative community. If you’re a maker, blogger, entrepreneur or a creative then join us this April for four inspiring days that you’ll never forget. Craftcation has over 80 hands-on workshops and business classes so whether you’re coming to craft, grow your business or a little bit of both, there’s lots of making, meeting and learning in store for you. I’ll be teaching on how to create a unique brand in a saturated market as well as how to pitch media to land your products in magazines and on TV.
Craftcation takes place April 7-10, 2016, in the beach town of Ventura, California, (about an hour north of Los Angeles). Craftcation utilizes Ventura’s historic downtown buildings and businesses as well as the beach for special events like networking meet & greets, cocktail socials, a pop-up shop, opening celebration, yoga, as well as food and art tours.
Have you ever thought to yourself…
- I have a great idea for a business but I don’t know how to start.
- I want to turn my passion into my full-time job.
- I have a successful business and I’m ready to take it to the next level but I’m not sure how.
- I want to connect with people in my field but I don’t have the time or opportunity to make it happen.
- I’d love to learn something new and better myself/my business at the same time.
- I want new ideas to make my business more successful and inspire me.
If you want to start, maintain or grow your creative business or take a break from your routine and learn something new while networking with fellow makers…then this conference is perfect is for you! Early pricing ends February 20, 2016. Click here to learn more and get tickets!