Aug 8, 2012

12 Tips for Handmade Businesses and How My Business Brain Has Changed

I love being a small business owner, but, let me tell you, my brain is not super business-y. I'm all about the fun part, the people part, the creativity part. Okay, especially the people part!
I've been selling vintage and handmade wares at a local boutique, as you well know by now. Except, the kitschy, mid-century vintage isn't flying off the shelves like I thought it would be. So, I've changed my game plan a bit, and am focusing more on handmade goodies like infant/women's headbands, bobby pins, wreaths, earrings, necklaces, brooches, embellished journals, framed maps, laundry detergent, and whatever else I can think of or be inspired by!

It's going to be a delicate balancing act because I like to make really colorful, non-matchy things, and this area of town/our boutique audience is more match-matchy. So I will balance between making what I LOVE and making what acutally sells. I'm up to the challenge and am just so grateful I even have a piece of a brick/mortar!

Here's my latest wreath, along with some rick-rack rolled bobby pins:
If you are a small business owner of handmade, here are some tips, off the cuff:


1. Give your business to the Lord. He gets all the credit for our talents anyway!
2. Listen to the opinions of your spouse...Shawn has much to bring to the table and always gives me a fresh perspective. He's even helped stage my space. He helps me see beyond the rainbows/butterflies/fantasy stuff. And, he knows my limits regarding availability, stress, etc.

3. Find a mentor! Find someone locally you can regularly gab with about the handmade community, business plans, budgets, organizing, insurance, accountants, etc. Even if you don't agree with how he/she might tweak your business approach, accept their advice and apply it to your business where pertinent.
4. Perfect your product. Pretend like every thing you make is going to the Queen of England! Think quality. Put your heart into it. Pray that whomever receives the product will be blessed.

5. Follow the rules. Make sure all your tax/insurance/businessy stuff is all lined up. Hire an accountant if you need to (it's not in my budget; I wish!) or get a hold of a great software program.
6. Do your research. What market are you trying to reach? Is your product unique or are you copying? Where's the best place to sell your wares? Online or brick/mortar? I have a separate slew of advice for online businesses, since I ran an Etsy about 1.5 years (will reopen), but that's another post.
7. Utilize local resources, like small business bureaus, online groups that meet in person, shop owners, etc.

8. Work hard. Like, really really hard. I get out of my little shop exactly what I put into it. If I'm not crafting lots, restocking inventory, yet expect for the paycheck to be mondo, then, I'm kidding myself.
9. Get the word out. Supply your handmade wares to bloggers to give away. Utilize social media. Post lots of pictures of your pretties. Advertise in local publications or online, if your budget permits.

10. Don't let minor set-backs completely derail you. Success, most of the time, comes slowly. Use disappointments to fuel your drive, not deplete it. I am still at the non-revenue stage (yes you read that correctly) but I keep going. I have been blogging 4.5 years and keep going because I love it.

11. Be excited! If you are excited about what you have to offer, others will be too.
12. The Bible refers to a sabbath on Sundays....take time to rest. This will help your mind replenish its creativity.

And that's my little two cents. :-)

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Email me for details, friend!


Kate Eschbach said...

Great advice, Mindy! Have a wonderful night!

Jennifer said...

Thank you! Totally needed to hear all that. Praying about where god would have us go in terms of my handmade lovelies. It can be so scary to not know the future but it's all exciting to dream about all the possibilities!

Alli from Life on LeRoy said...

Do you sell your stuff online at all? Because I want one of everything!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!

vintage grey said...

Love this, and needed to hear it today!! My favorite is number, always remembering the Lord is in control and giving the business to Him, and to glorify Him with it! Thank you for sharing, and have a great day! xo Heather

Joy Kinard said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you for the tips!

Lindsay said...

Your stuff is all so gorgeous. I need to go shopping :)

Danielle said...

Great tips and good information! All your wreaths are so pretty!

Jaclyn Armstrong said...

Thanks for the great tips! I have dreamed of opening my own small, handmade online shop for quite some time, and seeing what you have created inspires me! Your work is amazing.


Kansas Girl said...

Love that little brain of yours. Thanks so much for sharing part of it with all of us.