Friday, 25 March 2011

FAQs Series: Advice For Starting Your Own Business?

I get various emails every day asking similar questions, so I thought I'd do a blog series in order to share what I know with you! I hope you find it helpful, and if you have a question of your own to ask, feel free to email me or ask via Twitter.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

When I first started running Little Miss Delicious I just wanted to make pretty things and didn't give much thought to anything else, but I've learnt lots of things along the way. A lot of hard work goes into running your own business - I hope the following 8 tips helps to make it a little less stressful for you!

Make sure self employment is for you -

Working self employed is not easy work. You need to make sure it is something you really want to do and something you are very passionate about as it's very difficult to establish a stable income, so be prepared for some hard times unless you have lots of funding right from the start.

Research your market and be aware of copyright laws -

Before I started selling jewellery, I researched existing polymer clay companies to ensure I wouldn't be stepping on any toes. The great think about handmade items is that you can create something completely unique - nobody wants yet another octopus necklace!

It's also important to have a little bit of knowledge about copyright laws. This will allow you to ensure you aren't breaching other people's copyright, and ensures you know what to do if it ever happens to you!

Start by selling online -
  
Websites like Etsy and Folksy are perfect for starting out, as they provide you with a store front, generate a lot of traffic themselves and charge very small fees per sale. Whilst it also makes it easy for people to get distracted by other sellers on the site, it is very useful at early stages when you can't afford your own website. However, these websites are only available for those selling handmade, vintage or supplies, so make sure your products are suitable.

Market stalls are also a great way to gain exposure
Picture perfect -  

It's also super important to have good pictures of your products, so check out how other people that sell similar items photograph them to best show them off! If you aren't very skilled in the photography area, I would also highly recommend using a product photographer such as the amazing Shot By Lucy. It's very affordable and ensures potential customers see your designs at their best!

Promote promote promote -

When you're running your own business the most important thing is just to promote as much as possible. Places like Facebook and Twitter are great for that, especially if you get your friends to invite everyone they know to join too. Once the ball starts rolling, you'd be amazed at how much interest you can generate!

It is also important to have awesome looking business cards that successfully show the purpose of your business, your target market and provides contact information. I've found that moo.com is the perfect place for high quality (yet affordable!) business cards and I use Awesome Merchandise for everything else. 

Networking is key - 

The main downside to working from home is the lack of social interaction with other people. It’s very easy to forget when to stop working and neglect everything else, so I’ve found it’s very important to keep in touch with the world outside of my studio, even if it just means going for the occasional coffee with a friend. There are various networking groups across the country for both crafters and self employed ladies, with my favourite in London being the Wonderful Women meetings arranged by the fabulous ReeRee Rockette. I also now run my own networking events in the North East too.

Etsy also regularly hold events in the UK and abroad
Be prepared to work hard - 

Running your own business is not easy, there is a lot of hard work and long hours involved. However, the more work you put it, the stronger your business will be, so it all pays off!

Working single-handedly means I do everything myself, including designing/updating my website, making and shipping the parcels, replying to emails, and even designing promotional materials such as flyers and stickers. This means my day tends to start at 7am, and end at 2am – but thankfully I’ve never really been one for sleep! 

And finally, stay creative!

Sometimes it's hard to keep going when you're having a difficult time or if you've lost all motiviation and creative spark - with all my hospital visits and constant kidney pain I know this feeling all too well! 

However, you have to always make sure you remember that you're doing something you love, and keep being creative! I always find it helps to carry about a notebook, so you can keep track of new ideas, as well as challenging yourself with something new. That's what I did when I started sewing items, and now I don't know where I'd be without my plush cushions!



6 comments:

  1. Very wise and true words! I also recommmend printing off really nice emails/messages you get from happy customers, so when you are having a bad day, you can read through them and feel better! :))

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  2. That is such a good idea! I might have to print some off and put them above my desk :) xo

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  3. Hahaha, that blasted octopus, so true! <3

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    1. It is everywhere! I here it's because it's so unique xo

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  4. That is some fantastic advice! I wish someone had done a post like this when I was starting out with ASYLUMseventy7 :)

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    1. I'm so glad you found it helpful! Hopefully those who are just starting up will too :) xo

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