C&T Q&A – How do you know it’s time to take the leap from hobbyist to business owner?

1-when is it a business final

{Comic Book Jess says ‘Hmmm…’ – photo by smilebooth Australia, edited by moi} 

This week’s question is from Grace, who writes:

How do you take that first step from being a hobbyist to a business owner? i.e …How do you know when the time is right? and What knowledge do you feel is essential before starting your biz (there’s gotta be more than just being ‘crafty’ to succeed).

I love this question – I think it’s one that a lot of people struggle with.

When is the right time? What do I need to know? When do I make the leap from hobby to business?

The short answer?

When you make the decision.

The long answer?

I don’t care how long you’ve been doing your craft as a hobby. It might be 10 years, or you might have started yesterday. I don’t care how much you know about ‘business’. You could have an MBA, or, you could be like me when I started and know pretty much nothing.

Your craft hobby turns into a business when you start treating it like a business.

When you decide to take it – and yourself – seriously.

When you start keeping track of your numbers – your income and expenditure.

When you start thinking like a businesswoman.

When you believe in yourself and your product.

When you start looking at your products from the perspective of your customer, rather than just yourself.

When you attack the Google machine with any question that comes up, and you’ll be dammed if you stop before you find a solution.

When you start to get strategic.

When you analyse your prices to see if you’re making a profit.

When you say ‘I have a business’ to yourself, your family, and that dude you meet in the line at the coffee shop (you gave him your beautiful, professionally printed (or handmade if you’re in letterpress) business card, yeah?).

That is when you have taken the leap.

It’s a leap of faith, to be sure. You don’t know if you’ll ‘succeed’ (whatever that means to you). You don’t know if you’ll ever be able to make enough to quit your job. You don’t know that you’ll still want to be doing this in a year/5 years/10 years time.

You know what? None of us do when we start out. I certainly didn’t. I still don’t know if this is what I’ll be doing in 5 years time. Do I let that hold me back from putting my heart and soul into what I do?

Nope.

None of that matters.

It’s enough that you want to do it NOW. That you want to throw yourself into this crazy dream and make it happen.

No-one is going to make it happen for you.

You have the power. You have the control. You have the choice.

It’s a business when you say it’s a business.

*****

Need help making the transition from hobby to business? Want to set yourself up for success from the get-go? Come join us and I’ll teach you how to Set Up Shop and get it right, right from the start.

C&T Q&A – How did you choose your business name? {Share your Story}

This week’s question is from Karen, who writes:

My question is how do people arrive at their business name? I love yours, Epheriell. It’s a beautiful word, but why not Jess Van Den Jewellery Design? Why and how do people choose what they choose? It’s such an important first impression, that one word or phrase chosen, or to put their whole personal name out there. How do you know what’s the right choice for you?

Also, the boring bit, the legalities of it all. I believe using your name doesn’t require registration, but put ‘Jewellery Designer’ after it, and it becomes a business name, and will cost a fee. It’s so hard to know what your business will look like in 6, 12 months time. I suppose one just has to hope the name will still fit.

I bounce a round a bit with this question Jess, but I would love it if you and your posse would have a go at tackling it.

X Karen

I LOVE this question, and its one that I often wonder about, too.

business name

{photo of Jess by Paul Harris of see saw photography}

Let’s break it down and start with the first question – where does a name come from?

Funnily enough, as often as I get asked about the genesis of the name Epheriell, I’ve never written about it before.

In my case, the word ‘Epheriell’ is one I made up over 10 years ago now. I used to use it as my online handle for many years… and when I started my jewellery business, it just seemed natural that I use it as my brand name.

So, what does it mean? Epheriell is a mash-up of the words ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Ethereal’ – with the addition of the ‘ell’ on the word, which came from a book I was reading at the time. I believe it was one of Jostein Gaarder’s books, and it had angels in it. I noticed that all the angels’ names ended with the ‘ell’ sound, and thought it was pretty.

And so, the word Epheriell was born!

Honestly, at the time, I didn’t put a great deal of thought into using this as my business name. It just ‘fit’. I certainly didn’t consider using my name, as I was only a hobbyist at the time, playing around. In hindsight, perhaps it would have been a good move, but on the up-side, my name is now still free to represent me and all that I am and do, rather than being tied to my jewellery brand exclusively.

As for the second part – the legalities – alas, I can’t give advice on that, because every country and every state will have different laws and regulations surrounding business names, so the best thing to do would be to search online for the business regulations in your area, or talk to a lawyer or someone else who has the qualifications to tell you what you need to do.

So, where did YOUR business name come from? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

4 Rules to Follow When Considering a New Venue for your Wares

il_570xN.322230596

{image by BlueBerry Ash textiles}

With so many new websites appearing, it is very tempting to open online shop in each and one of them.

More exposure, new customers and better promotions are promised to us. Moreover, a shiny new front, more functions and less fees – it is all oh so inviting!

After I had been invited to sell on 3 new websites that appeared recently, I started wondering… should I spread my efforts on many shops in the hope of more exposure; or should I pick one or two and promote them like crazy?

How many shops is enough and how many is too many? Which one do you promote first? Will your customers get confused when you send them in 6 different places?  So many questions!

I admit, I am writing about this not only because I’ve been asking this question of myself (and of Mr. Plushkin and my family) but because I was caught in this “trap” of too many online shops before…

I found that yes, it is confusing for the customers when there are too many shops available to buy from.

It is better to pick one shop (unless you have your own website) as a main one that will get linked to in your newsletter and your blog.

I am sure that each and every one of the online marketplaces that are available are  great in their own way, but how do I choose just one or two that are right? It feels like I am missing out on something wonderful by eliminating the other shops.

How do you choose an online shop?

4 rules to follow venue

I have 4 basic rules that I apply when considering opening a new one:

1. Easy to use with helpful functions. For me, it`s important for the shop to be easy to use! It’s actually vital as, with over 100 items in the shop, when listing an item takes too long, it just won’t work.

If there are too many boxes to tick with messy layout, I give up fairly quickly. Moreover, I am now looking at how many functions website offers.

Is it easy to apply coupons so you can encourage customers to return? Does it give you an opportunity to list different colours/sizes in one listing? Does a new shop offers something to your customers that the current shop doesn’t?

2. Fees. There are websites that charge for listings plus take a fee. Alternatively, there are website that charge only commission on sale.

I have heard an opinion that websites that charge only commission work better as they are more interested in you actually selling your creation. I am not sure myself as the one commission might be higher then listing fee+sale fee combined.

Get you calculator out and write down how much it will cost you to list and sell the best sellers on different websites.

3. Traffic. Do they have a good google rating? How long have they being around? Check out the shops that sell through the website similar items, how many have they sold?

4. Advertising. Have you seen this website contantly advertising in the magazines/websites/blogs that your target market reads?

The rule of finding a perfect shop for what you make is simple – try.

It will cost a bit in time and fees but if you apply those 4 rules, it will eliminate the ones that are not worthy of the time and effort. Do your research and give it a go. But don’t be afraid to close the shop and walk away thinking that it might take of in a month or two, maybe Christmas…..

Test the shop

Try not to promote it yourself via your media at first.

List items actively, make sure your tags and wording is right so you can be easily found in the search, buy some advertisement on the website without introducing your customers to it and see how it performs.

Look at your stats/analytics and see what’s happening with the traffic and where it comes from. It’s obvious if you will start promoting the new shop via media you use, traffic will come – but does the website that you are paying for gives you more exposure and attract new customers?

Besides, every maker needs to remember – you creations are valuable, you need to believe in that.

You worked hard to create your reputation and customer base and you are bringing it all with you when you open a shop on another website. I hear you saying: “Having a shop open that charges only commissions doesn’t really cost me anything” but having a standing still shop doesn’t really make your brand looks great as well as take into account all that time you have to spend taking listings off that were sold on the other website. Close it, I would say!

I would love to know  how many online shops you are running at the moment? Are you happy with the online shops that you currently have? 

How to Make Decisions in 1, 2, 3 (Easy) Steps

Pied-Piper-Necklace-Liana-Kabel-650x690

{image by Liana Kabel}

Being able to make decisions quickly and confidently is a real bonus in running a business. Actually I’d say it is an essential skill. It is one that you can learn and get better at.

I’ve been working on that one myself lately.

Transitioning back into full-time self-employment has honestly been making my head spin. There are just so many darn decisions to be made.

Although I have been operating my jewellery design business for 10 years, I’m at a point where I want to develop new areas and again derive a full-time income from it (my part-time job as a business coach ends this April).

Since I need to achieve so much within the next three months, there isn’t room to make too many less-than-great decisions. Generally I’m fine with making mistakes and learning from those, but I just haven’t got time for that now.

A few weeks back I felt so overwhelmed by it all I simply gave up and went to bed. At 3.30 in the afternoon! Maybe that was just what I needed, because the next day I woke up and thought, I need to get on with making some clear decisions – NOW. Once I’ve done that I can get moving and start making things happen.

So I devised 3 steps that would help me with that. I hope they help you too.

 

1.    Be clear about your goals and boundaries

This can take some time to work out, I won’t lie to you, but it is time well spent. In the long run you will save yourself time and a whole heap of anxiety and stress, as well as knowing that your decisions are in line with your beliefs and vision.

There are a few ways that I like to work out what my goals and boundaries are.

Brainstorming can be great. Just write down everything you want to achieve (and everything that you don’t want to do). If you find it difficult just to launch into list writing, instead take some quiet time first and visualize how you imagine your business. Then write down what came up for you in that. Vision boards are helpful too. Simply cut out images and words that appeal to you from magazines.

Don’t overthink it. Let your intuition guide you.

That brings us to the next step.

 

2. Trust your intuition.

Sometimes you can list all the reasons you should do something, but it just doesn’t feel right. Listen to that feeling, it knows you better that you do

 

3.  Be brave

You’ve made your decision – congratulations! Now you need to stick with it. This may mean saying no to someone, changing paths or asking for help. These are things that can be hard to do. So if you still aren’t sure at this point I’d say go back to steps one and two, for some reassurance and to know you are on the right path.

A few of my friends have said to me “you always get what you want”.

Now I don’t think that is completely true, but I do know that when I have made a really clear decision and then committed to it, it generally has happened.

A big part of getting what you want is knowing what you want, and that all starts with a decision being made.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Liana Kabel -

With a Tupperware Lady for a Mother and a Jeweller Father, what else was I going to be but a jeweller obsessed with plastic.

As a self-employed arts practitioner and business coach, I’m keen to share these aspects of my knowledge to help build strong creative communities.

Liana Kabel

website facebook pinterest

 

10 Tasks to Do in the Quiet Months: learn to use the times of slow sales to your advantage

don't panic and carry a towel - hitchikers guide to the galaxy eye chart

{image by the Pressing Pigeon}

This post is written by Katia Donohoe.

Didn’t have sales for a few weeks and wonder what’s happening? Are you asking yourself if it’s happening to your shop only or is it like this for other shops too?

Most likely it is. There are at least two months a year when the sales drop. Depending on what you sell, it can be January – February or June – July.

So what do you do?

Do you try to buy tons of advertising, discount your creations or get out there Facebooking and Tweeting like mad?

Definitely not!

All those things need to be consistent and time appropriate. It’s not going to make you look professional by overwhelming your reader/followers with tons of updates in their newsfeed and you don’t want to look desperate by selling your creations at a super low prices.

The fact is, it can be quiet for so many reasons – holidays so everyone is away, tax time and, if you are selling overseas, it can be weather, different public holidays and festivities.

After a 3 years in business, I did calm down a little.

I used to think that every sale was my last, got nervous and anxious when there were no sales for a week/two/three, started questioning why am I doing this, stare at the screen, go in circles checking my Facebook page, Twitter, mailbox every 2 minutes…

Sounds familiar? Then read on…

After a while, you will discover that there is no such thing as a quiet month in handmade business.

There might be no sales but you need to learn to think long term. There is always so much to do and there are always areas that you overlook while busy.

Remember, all business owners are going through the same, just at a different time of the year.

Here are a few areas that you might want to have a look at while there are no email popping up in your mailbox:

  1. Check you listing descriptions for mistakes, and maybe add more information about the item and the creative process behind it.

  2. Make sure you use all the tags in your Etsy shop.

  3. Take fresh pictures. After looking at some of my product pictures a few weeks later, I often find that the light wasn’t good enough on that day or I forgot to upload all 5 pictures in the listing…

  4. Pre-make packaging. It is always great to have all envelopes stamped with return address and have all the promotional information that is included with an item in one place, ready for the busy times.

  5. Look at your stock: what is underrepresented? My goal is to have 5 of each creation in the shop in different designs/colours (note: I sell only items in stock, no custom orders) If you take custom orders, then check if you have enough materials for all the items. You might have run out of certain supplies but forgot to take the listing down.

  6. Make new stock! There is no better time then now to create new things. Put them aside and release the slowly when there is just not enough time in the day to make anything.

  7. Tidy up the paperwork. All of us guilty of putting paperwork in a pile and moving it somewhere where nobody can see it. Go, take it out and at least sort it by month and file it.

  8. Research new supplies. Shopping for new fabric/beads/buttons is always fun! If you are not yet ready to buy, at least you will know where to find it.

  9. Research new ways to promote your business, and evaluate your promotional efforts up to date. Can a lack of advertising or marketing be the contributing factor to the slow sales?

  10. Visit those blogs that you love and leave comments.

In conclusion, don’t fixate on slow sales. Instead, use this time to concentrate on the other areas of your business that need attention.

{image by Katia}

Remember that you are in this for a long term and building a successful business takes time and determination.

If you have all those things mentioned above in place and keep adding a new stock to the shop, sales will come in and you will pat yourself on the back for using the slow months to your advantage!

____________________________

katia

Katia Donohoe is designer and maker behind Plushka’s Craft brand.  Being of Russian heritage she treasures handmade crafts and love spending time creating things by hand.

She cannot live without hand-stitching, hot chocolate and Mr. Plushkin, bright tights and suede shoes.

She blogs at Plushka’s Craft where she writes about Plushka’s handmade creations, inspirations as well as her main craft passions – cross-stitch and crochet.

blog facebook | twitter {@plushkacraft}