Have you chosen the best business model for your handmade biz?

what's your business model

{image from the awesome Cardboard Safari – they have a unicorn!}

Thank you everyone for your comments to the last post I wrote! Your comments – and especially this comment by Jess – really got me thinking on the ways we sell our creations:

“Something that I do across a few venues is upload a core product range. So, on Etsy, Madeit and my own site, I make sure to have my entire range available, but on other venues, I just spend the time to upload my core range – that I’m pretty confident won’t change – and use that as a way to showcase my wares in as many places as I can. It’s a little way of having the best of both worlds – of course, you have to find the time to even upload that smaller range, which can be challenging!”

There are so many different “business models” – so how do you know which one is for you?

I cannot say that I’ve gotten it right myself yet – but I can say that this year, after applying certain changes to the way I sell my creations, I am much more comfortable with my model.

Let’s take a look at a few of the different models that are possible for your crafty biz.

Markets based business

Selling mainly at the markets (with the stock left over offered on Facebook or at an online shop).

I like this model and if you are set up for it with a car that fits all you containers and stall decorations and you don’t mind working weekends then it’s a great model for you. At a good market, you sell well and walk away with money on hand.

You can budget you stall costs for a year with no listing fees and fixed amount of sales. However, preparing for a market can be stressful (even when you’ve done it a few times). Cancellations due to weather will leave you with stock and, unless you do markets every week, less money coming in that month. I would say nowadays, an online shop is a must for a stall holder so customers can shop after the market too.

Selling made to order items online

You have your range of products, like cushions or jewellery,  for example, and you list the samples and then print/sew/make them to order.

This model minimizes the storage space but requires you to work to a deadline so you get the order posted fast enough to insure higher turnover and to keep your customers happy.

Facebook based business

You don’t have time to set up and update a shop, maybe you work full-time…so you create in the evenings and weekends and release items in batches once a month or so.  

I know businesses that prefer to work on – let’s say – 20 items for a month and then release them in bulk on so called “Market Nights”. Works great  once you have large-ish Facebook audience.

Selling only ready to post items online with occasional custom orders

If you don’t like stress of a deadline and a huge list of orders then welcome to my world!

I did have to take more space for storage but I like that I have plenty of stock and I just post it when I sell an item. As I make toys, I sometimes have to make them to order when they need to be personalised or made into bride & groom like the order I am working on now.

Having a stocked up shop, gives me an opportunity to relax a little more and advertise my business without the fear of being swamped and when I end up with a few orders, the shop is stocked so there is no “I need to make a few items for the shop even if it kills me” thought in my head. In order to achieve this, I have to accept orders only a few times a year and regulate it strictly.

Selling wholesale to the shops and building up as many stockiest as you can handle

It’s a good model for artists who can make a bunch of items at once like fabric printing or kits making.

You make items for a week or so, package them and send them off to the shops. This model is great if you like to know approximately the prospective earnings and you can just drive/post your stock to the shops and maybe have an online presence just for showing your range  to the prospective shops.

I personally love this model but it won’t work for my creations (I tried).

Complex business model

Mix and match applies not only to clothes!

You can create you own business model by combing all or a few of those listed above. I know a very successful  business that does all of the above: markets, Facebook sales, website with stock and offers made-to-order. However, I think, it’s a job for more then one person or a very organised and dedicated crafter!

Each of those models are very personal to the business owner as there is a long road before you find the right one for you and what you make.

Based on my experience, it took me good few years to identify what works the best for the time I have available and my creative process. Time is the obvious factor to consider but, I was surprised to come to the conclusion that the way I create is determining my business model.

I am impulsive, not very patient and hate being under pressure as a designer! If I have a new idea, I have to do it straight away!

I used to do made-to-order all the time for 2 years and it really put me under pressure.

I wished I could have more control over my creativity, but trying to make new things in between the orders, which I stayed up late to do in time, wasn’t fun.

I started wondering – “why I am doing this and what for?”

I identified that what I love is designing and creating, losing myself in that feeling when you have a new idea and you go with it.

It’s a lovely feeling, isn’t it?

Well, before I cut down wholesale orders, customer orders (to a manageable amount), and markets, I didn’t feel comfortable with my chosen business model. However, that’s just me 🙂

That’s how I came to my business model – sell only what I have in stock – so it’s make-list-sell-post model.

My friend asked me a good question when I shared  my decision with her – “Won’t it result in less money”?

That’s a very good question as it did cut my earnings at the start – but I believe in thinking long-term now.

A very important argument that I made – when trying to justify the decision to cut down on wholesale and customer orders – was that I couldn’t even promote my business before.

At the moment, the way I’m working is a great model for me.

With time it might not be and, hopefully, I’ll move on the the mixed business model. Who knows! Owning your own business means you can adjust the model to suit your needs and it’s awesome!

So, why has the comment that Jess made triggered this rambling?

Because I love the way she has her “core product” listed in the shops and think if you do the made-to order then it’s such an awesome way of doing it!

I am going to think how I can apply this to my business model.

In conclusion: identifying your business model is vital for you Indie business.

The model that makes you feel comfortable, as stressed out maker is an ingredient that will spoil the recipe. If you feel stressed, unsatisfied and unhappy, re-evaluate and reconsider the way your business is run.

You might have a great product – but maybe the way you sell it is bringing you down?

I would love to hear all about  your business model! Which one of those mentioned is yours or do you do it differently?

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Do you want to get started with an online shop – and get it right, first time?

Join us for Set Up Shop and take your business to the next level! Registration closes Saturday, class starts April 1.

This is what’s holding you back from succeeding.

whats-holding-you-back

The giveaway I ran for Set Up Shop had one kinda unexpected outcome.

You shared your stories with me. You told me why you NEEDED this course to grow your business. And out of what you shared, I realised that there were a core group of things that seemed to be holding you all back from taking that next step in your business.

Today I wanted to tackle some of those things, and then open up the discussion to you – I’d love to hear what you feel your biggest obstacle is (whether it’s on this list or not!).

Why do I want you to share? Because it’s only when we know what our challenges are that we can face them head-on.

Knowledge

Or – more accurately – lack of knowledge. So many of you said you desperately wanted to set up an online shop – or, you wanted to improve the one you have – but that you just didn’t know what you needed to do and know to make it happen, and do it right.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Of course, I’m part of the Google generation – my kneejerk response when I don’t know something is to ‘google it’ – and honestly, this is how I’ve learnt pretty much everything I’ve needed for my business over the last 6 years.

However, that only takes you so far, for two reasons.

  • One – goodness me, does it take a lot of stumbling around in the dark trying to find the right info!?! Research sucks up a LOT of time – time you could be spending working on your products or other aspects of your business.
  • Two – as we said above, you don’t know what you don’t know. Maybe there’s some immensely useful technique or tool or program that would make your life and business so much easier to run… but you don’t know about it. This is where being part of a community, learning from a mentor, or taking courses comes in useful.

You cut through the crap and save an immense amount of time by learning from those who’ve gone before.

I always say that everything I teach (and honestly, that ANYONE teaches) in my posts, talks, ebooks and courses is stuff you could find for yourself.

It is! The info is out there – it’s not a secret known to only the elite few and passed down to the select.

With the magic of the internet, the barriers to acquiring knowledge have been obliterated… but the amount of information available has also exploded.

The benefit of buying a course, attending a talk, or reading an ebook is that you skip the research. Someone has done it for you. They’ve searched, tried, tested, and then shared the distilled – immensely useful – information with you.

This, then, segues perfectly into the next limitation that’s holding you back.

Time

We all have the same amount. 24 hours, every day.

However, we have also all chosen a certain lifestyle that affects how much time we can devote to our businesses – and this will vary immensely between us.

For example: I’m in my early 30s. I don’t have kids. I also have a husband who is at home with me full-time. He does the domestic chores and supports me in the business so I have the time to grow it and work on it. To achieve this freedom, we choose to live in 2 rooms in a converted barn on my parents’ property. We have one car. We don’t buy expensive things, but we do spend a great deal of money on things that mean a lot to us – like travel.

That is my lifestyle, and it’s something I’ve chosen deliberately. I’ve had a ‘regular’ job. I’ve lived out on my own, rented, shared houses, Nick’s had and paid off a mortgage. We know that’s not the lifestyle either of us ever want again. We don’t need more space. We love being close to my family. We love the freedom to travel our lifestyle affords us. We’ve never been happier.

Your life is going to look different to mine.  This is the point Megan was making with her ‘secret of success‘ post a while back. You are not anyone else – you are you, and your success will look different to mine and anyone else’s.

It’s taken me 5 years to reach the place I am with my business – over 3 of those it has been my full-time job. If you have a day job, kids, other commitments… your time is limited.

The time it will take you to achieve what you deem ‘success’ is the time it will take you. I know that sounds a bit zen, but it’s the truth. You can be clever about how you spend that time, but there is no magic bullet that will make it happen faster.

However, getting a bit of guidance will help. A lot. 

Money

Just like time, the money we have to devote to our businesses will vary wildly. Maybe you have a partner with an awesome job who rakes in the dough. Maybe you’re both working part-time and just scraping by. Maybe you’re on your own and studying, or raising your kids.

Wherever you’re at, you have a limited amount of cash to invest in your business. Only you can decide what the best use of that money is. Do you need to invest in tools? Materials? A website?

It’s never been easier to make money from your creativity than it is now. You can open a shop on Etsy and get 20 products up in there for 4 bucks. The only thing you need to spend is time.

I’ve chosen the time route, because I have it. I still spend time rather than money wherever I can – which is why I love social media marketing and blogging. Some of you might prefer to spend money on advertising instead (though please still have a social media presence, it’s unavoidable these days!).

You need to spend one or the other – TIME or MONEY – in order to grow your business.

Fear

Honestly, I believe this is THE biggest thing holding most of you back.

If you don’t believe in yourself, nothing else matters.

I don’t care how much knowledge, time, or money you have. If you don’t believe in yourself and your product you will not succeed.

You will never take that leap forward because you’re always scared you’re not ‘doing it right’.

You’re frightened to devote yourself to your dream because you don’t believe that you can make it a reality.

Quite simply – you don’t think you’re good enough. You don’t think you deserve it. You don’t think it’s possible.

I call bullshit on that.

No-one can live your life. No-one can do this for you. No-one can make you believe in yourself.

YOU have the power. YOU are the one with the dream. YOU are the one who WILL make it a reality.

This is YOUR life to live EXACTLY as you please, because you’re not going to get another chance at it.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Get out of your own way and go for it.

And if you want me to hold your hand while you do it – I’m here, baby. But really, you don’t need me. You just need YOU.

So, now it’s time to ask yourself – what is it that’s truly holding you back?

 


If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, you can join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…

Set up Shop is now open for registration (with an extra ebook, too, if you register in the next 12 hours).

1-Set Up Shop

I’m so excited to announce that registration is now open for Set Up Shop!

I sent out a sneaky email to the C&T list last night, and we’ve already got an amazing group of women signed up and ready to go on April 1st (thank you, everyone who’s already registered!).

Everything you need to know is on the course page here.

Now, if you’re worried about cost, I want to reassure you, I have not made this a ridiculously expensive course to take… in fact, the Silver Membership will cost you less than $3 per day over the 30 days.

I feel very strongly that this course should be affordable for everyone – I did NOT want lack of money to hold you back from participating!

For those who want that next level of support, the Gold and Platinum levels are also available… but due to my limited time, they are limited to only 20 and 4 places respectively. (About half of the 20 Gold places are already sold, so make sure to register asap if you want that extra level of support.)

Head on over here to lock in your place now.

From all the stories that the C&T community have shared over the last few weeks, I know you are ready and willing to get serious about your business – you just need that little bit of help and guidance to take your business to the next level. That’s what I’m here to provide.

I’ll give you structure and guidanceyou’ll bring your unique passion and drive – and together we’ll craft a beautiful shop that will highlight your fabulous creations in their best light.

I can’t wait to see you in the course and help you transform your shop into something you can be immensely proud of as you take your next step on the path to crafty business success!

Jess xx

P.S. Click here to check out the prices and membership level deets.

P.P.S. if you register in the next 12 hours, you’ll get a nifty bonus – a FREE copy of my ‘How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List’ ebook. Ace! (Offer ends 7pm Monday 25th, AEST.)

And the Set Up Shop Winners Are…

I was totally blown away with the response to the Set Up Shop giveaway – truly.

SO many of you shared your stories – stories of hope, dreams, and determination. I knew there was a place for this course in the world, but I didn’t realise just how many of you feel that you just need that guidance and direction to take your shop and business to the next level. I’m so excited about sharing that with you throughout April!!

It was really hard to pick a winner – I read and responded to each and every one of you, and goodness, you really opened up and shared your lives and wishes with us all. That takes courage. Thank you.

So, without further ado…

big balloons with cat

{image from bonbon balloons}

The Silver winner was the random draw, and the winner of the Silver Membership is:

Cat of Tiny Lion Jewellery

After reading over all your comments numerous times, a few stood out to me – but one really captured me. And so I chose…

The winner of the Gold Membership is:

Sally Steele!

Sally, I trust you to take what I teach you and run with it – run with the wind!!

To everyone else who entered – thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope you’ll join us in the course – I’d love to see each and every one of you achieve your goals and dreams!

Registration opens Monday the 25th, at 7am AEST – prices will be released then (but just so you know, the Silver Membership will be well under $100 – my aim is to make this course affordable for everyone).

I’ll be sending out an email prior to that with a link to the registration page… so if you want to be the first to register (especially if you want one of the limited Gold or Platinum places) make sure you’re on the email list. Also – those who register within the first 24 hours will receive a bonus – a FREE copy of my ebook – How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List. Just my way of saying thanks for hopping on board!

If you have any questions about the course, please leave them on the comments, or just shoot me a quick email 🙂

Congratulations to the winners, I’ll be in touch very soon!

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.

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