Success Stories ~ Megan Auman

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Megan Auman at work on her newest adventure: painting

I thought you’d love to hear the ‘success story’ of a true Renaissance woman today so may I present my friend, mentor, and a panel member at last year’s Artful Business Conference, Megan Auman.  She’s a jeweler, a business coach, and now a painter!  This interview is long but it’s absolutely packed full of advice a slightly embarrassing stories.  You’re going to love it!

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I spent my entire childhood drawing and painting, taking private art lessons, and visiting museums and painting class with my mom.  It was well established that I was the “art one” of the kids in our family, but at the same time, I always had a sense for business.

When I was a kid, I used to play “business.”  I had one of those little bead looms, and I would make bracelets and hair clips.  Then, I would take pictures of them and make notes for each one on an index card where I wrote down how long each one took me to make and what the price would be.  Then I stored all that information in a little metal recipe box.  (I promise you I am not making this up!)  Around that same time, I started my first “real” business, selling little packets of confetti that I made myself to the other girls in my fourth grade class.

I had planned on going to college to study painting, but discovered jewelry making my senior year of high school, and decided to major in metalsmithing instead.  Because I didn’t know what I would do with a BFA in metalsmithing, I decided to go on to get a Master’s degree in metals and jewelry.  I knew heading into graduate school that after school I either wanted to teach or start my business, and I kept both options open throughout school.  For my thesis show, I made large scale sculptural work, but I also used that work as inspiration for my first production line.

After graduate school, I had a one year stint as a visiting assistant professor at a university.  I ran the Metals + Jewelry department while the head of the program was on sabbatical.  This is the closest I’ve ever come to having a traditional job, but being a college professor is hardly a 9 to 5.  I was required to be on campus three or four days a week to teach and advise students, and the rest of the time, my job was to make my own work.  That said, running a department right out of grad school (when I was younger than many of my students) was incredibly stressful. I always say that the biggest thing I learned in that year was that I didn’t want a full time teaching job.

I used my year as a professor to launch my eponymous jewelry line.  I started blogging.  (Waaaay back in 2006.)  And in February of 2007 I opened my Etsy shop.  I remember sitting on my bed, creating my first listings, and being really excited.  And then for six months, NOTHING happened.  Not. A. Single. Sale.  Fortunately, Etsy wasn’t my only revenue stream.  In 2007 and 2008, my focus was on outdoor, retail craft shows.  I did a mix of traditional art fairs and indie shows.  I also did NY Gift (a wholesale trade fair) in 2008, and that helped my business take off.  In 2008 (my first full year in business) I made enough to turn a profit and support myself.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest challenge in my business was my own personal slump of 2009.  2009 was the height of the recession in the US, and it would be really easy to blame my rough year on the economy.  But the truth is, I got in my own way.  I spent a lot of money launching a new product line that didn’t sell very well.  (Not a failure in my mind, just a really expensive learning experience.)  And that product line took focus away from my jewelry line, causing sales to slump there as well.  But the biggest obstacle was my own mental state.  I started having serious doubts about being a creative entrepreneur.  I worried that I was wasting my time on something “frivolous” and that I should be focusing my energy on doing something good for the world.

By the end of 2009, I was incredibly frustrated with my business, and I confessed to a friend that I was thinking about going to get my MBA.  “That’s crazy,” she replied.  “You could teach that stuff.”  I took what she said to heart, and decided that the best way to teach other creatives about business would be to start another blog, focused on business thinking for creatives.  I launched Crafting an MBA (now Designing an MBA) in December of 2009 and it truly saved my business.  Not just from a financial standpoint (though it is a consistent revenue stream for me) but more importantly, from a mental one.  In working with other creative entrepreneurs, I was able to assess my own mental roadblocks and work through them.  From the beginning, Designing an MBA has been as much about helping me grow my own business as it has about helping others.  It’s also opened so many doors for me and really helped me establish myself as an expert and a brand.

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Large Satellite Necklace

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

I feel like my business has been a series of small “fist-pump’ moments and it’s hard for me to name just one.  So here are some of the highlights:

  • Picking up the SFMOMA Museum Store (and a lot of other amazing accounts) at my first ever New York Gift fair.
  • Watching my readership of Designing an MBA grow really quickly in the first few months.
  • After five NY Gift Shows, finally designing a booth that felt like “me”.
  • Speaking about Creating a Culture of Profit at the annual Society of North American goldsmiths conference and then being asked to contribute a regular business column to Metalsmith magazine.
  • Having a sale with One Kings Lane and making and packing 130 orders in five days.  (Two of those days I had no power thanks to a hurricane.)
  • Being recognized by people “in real life” because they’ve watched my videos online or because they recognize my jewelry.  (I once got recognized on an airplane, which was just crazy!)
  • Hitting six-figures in annual jewelry sales in a year where I took a lot of time off.
  • Seeing so many people walking around the Buyers Market of American Craft this year wearing my work.
  • Seeing the successes of my students and alumni from my Designing an MBA programs.  (And having one person tell me, “Marketing for Makers saved my business.”)

But one of the coolest moments may have been last year when I was away speaking at a conference.  At a family gathering, my husband’s aunt asked where I was.  After my husband told her, she asked, “Is her business doing well, because you always hear about that whole starving artist thing?”  And my husband simply replied, “She made more money than I did last year.”

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

This last year has been full of doubts. My mother passed away in March of 2012 after a battle with cancer.  My mother was a painter, and she encouraged me as an artist from a young age.  My mother’s death left me with a desire to do a lot of soul searching and a need to start painting again.  I think it’s common after that kind of loss to feel a need to re-asses everything in your life.  What I wasn’t expecting was how easily painting would slide back into my life after nearly a decade away.  Once I embraced painting, I started feeling a tug of war between that creative activity and jewelry, the core of my business.  I found myself fantasizing about a new successful career as a painter.

What I’m working on now is adopting a both/and approach.  I’m still committed to running my jewelry business (it helps that I have an employee who handles the bulk of my production) but I’m also giving myself permission to paint and see where that takes me.  I’ve been trying to figure out what my creative identity is and what I want to be known for.  For a while, I was really trying to own the title of “designer” and while that is still true, I’ve come to realize just how important it is for me to think of myself as an “artist,” one who explores different processes and creative paths.

I feel like every few years something shifts in my business and I need to reinvent or add a new identity or aspect.  But that’s really who I am – someway who is easily excited but can also become bored quickly.  I’m learning to embrace that part of my personality and figure out ways to maintain a strong and consistent brand while following my passion and creating side projects.

I’m also incredibly passionate about teaching, and I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate more teaching back into my business, without the frustrations and bureaucracy that come with teaching at a university level.  I love teaching business and working with creative entrepreneurs, but I also miss teaching hands on skills, techniques, and designs.  I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve for bringing that back into my business as well, but I haven’t quite worked out the timing to bring those ideas into fruition.

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Steel and Silver Leaf Chain Necklace

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

I’m a big fan of the Chuck Close quote, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

That said, I find it incredibly difficult to “show up and get to work” in the winter.  I am not a cold weather person.  My body and brain pretty much shut down.  But over the last few years, I’ve come to recognize this in myself and I’ve learned to ride my own waves of productivity.  I plan my one new jewelry collection of the year for the August trade shows, so that I can focus on new designs when I’m at my creative best.  (I love working in my studio on a summer night when it’s warm and it stays light late.)  In the winter, I don’t put any pressure on myself to design anything new.  Instead, I focus on maintaining the business and emphasize activities (such as writing and leading e-courses) the can be done from my couch with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.  (Or, I travel somewhere warm!)

The other thing that always sparks my creativity is a trip to New York City.  Even though I’ve never lived there, I always think of New York as “my city.”  I live in the country of Pennsylvania, but I crave the energy of the city.  Whether it’s visiting a museum, participating in a show, shopping (at my favorite bookstore in the world, Strand), or just connecting with friends, a trip to New York always seems to get me going again.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

There is no such thing as a typical day in my life, and that’s actually how I manage to balance my work and my life.  I’ve come to realize that one of the most important things to me is not being tied down to a schedule, ever.  I was teaching one day a week at a college, and having to be somewhere once of week started to feel like torture.  I’m a total control freak, and the most important thing I want to have control over is my own time.  I do try and focus my work day between 7 AM and 4 PM because that’s when my husband is at work, but there’s nothing strict about that.  Some days I sleep until 7:30 or 8, other days I’m up at 6:30.  (I’m a morning person.)  Depending on what I have to do, I may get right to work, or I may take it easy in the morning, go for a run, or run errands.  I’ve structured my business to be really freedom driven, so I have plenty of free and flex time, and it’s rare that I work more than six hours in a given day.  Lately I’ve been bouncing between the administrative tasks of my jewelry business, teaching and coaching for Designing an MBA, and painting.  (A lot of painting, which right now doesn’t feel like work at all.)  Over the next few months, I’ll focus on creating a new jewelry collection for the summer trade show season.  I tend to work best in short, intense bursts, with time for travel and relaxation in between, and that means every day, week, and month looks different for me.  (And that’s the way I prefer it!)

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

On the jewelry side of my business, the best move by far was my decision to do the New York Gift trade fair.  I wouldn’t have the business I have now if I didn’t do that show.  I had applied for the show in the fall of 2007, having never even seen the show, with the plan that I would walk the winter show and exhibit in the summer of 2008.  But I got a call in November of 2007 saying there was a space in the January show for me if I wanted it.  Without even thinking, I said yes, got off the phone and thought, “What did I just get myself into?” But it was the best decision I ever made.  I didn’t know enough about the show to be scared, or overwhelmed, or to wonder if I was “ready.”  I just did what I had to do to get there.  I picked up some incredible accounts at that first show, and several turned out to be long term, consistent accounts for me.  I’ve done NY Gift twice a year since then, and it’s really the marketing force that drives my business.

On the Designing an MBA side of my business, the best marketing move I made was to be myself.  (Translation: highly opinionated.)  In the early days (when the site was called Crafting an MBA) I wrote a slightly critical post called “Etsy and the culture of cheap.”  The post presented a different view point of the Etsy marketplace and voiced some of my frustrations about the downward price spiral.  But it was also presented my ideas in a thoughtful, intelligent, and researched manner, and people really responded to it.  That post (along with a strategically timed guest post on Design*Sponge) helped grow my readership almost overnight.

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Nellie earrings

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Raise your prices!  I often feel like a broken record, but setting a high enough price (and sticking with it even when it was uncomfortable) is what has enabled me to build the kind of business (and life) that I have.  I have an employee who does most of my production.  I have freedom and flexibility.  I don’t have to work 60 hours a week.  (Let’s be real, I don’t usually work 40 hours a week.)  I travel (I’ve been to Europe twice in the last year and a half, and I’m planning another trip for the fall) and take time off.  I play in the studio and make work that I love.  And all of this is because I listened to some incredible mentors when I was first starting out and raised my prices to where they needed to be.  Once you raise your prices, you have to have the confidence and the brand to back them up (or you have to fake it until you do, which is what I did) but nothing in your business will really work the way you want it to if you are underpricing your work.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

On the cover of a magazine.

Actually, I’m not entirely sure.  I spent my 20s as someone who was completely goal-oriented and driving in a straight line.  Bachelor’s degree? Check. Master’s degree? Check.  College professor?  Been there and it’s not for me.  Six figure business.  Check and check.  (That’s for two years in a row.)  Now that I have a business that supports my life, I’m planning on spending my 30s experimenting a little more and enjoying my life.  Yes, I want to keep the momentum going in my jewelry business, keep educating other creative entrepreneurs through DMBA, and continue painting.  But I also want to focus on enjoying life as much as I can and seeing where things take me.  I want to travel as much as possible, and we’ve been working on remodeling a new (to us) home, and I’d love to get that to a place I’m happy with.  But otherwise, I don’t have a clear path for the next five years, and I’m actually ok with that.

But I wouldn’t say no to that magazine cover.

You can find more of Megan at:

Websites:
meganauman.com
designinganmba.com
meganaumanstudios.com

Blog:
meganauman.com/blog

Social media:
twitter.com/meganauman
instagram.com/meganauman
pinterest.com/meganauman

C&T Q&A – Guest Blogging – What do I do?

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This week’s question is from Jane of Earth Apple Jewellery, and she writes…

I am excited that I have been asked to guest blog, but now I am not sure how to start and specifically what format to write it in so that it transfers to the host blog. I know you do it all the time and so that is why I came to you.

Many thanks as always!
Jane

Okay, first of all – yay! Congratulations on being asked to guest post on someone’s blog.

Guest posting is a great way of reaching out and finding new readers for your own blog, as well as building your reputation in your sphere as an ‘expert’ in something.

Let’s go through and answer a few questions people might have about guest posting, including your question, Jane.

1. How do I get a guest post spot?

Well, there are 2 ways you can get a spot guest posting on someone else’s blog.

Either they will approach you and ask, or, you can approach them.

If there’s a blog you’d love to post on, first look around that blog to see if they accept posts from other people. Then, spend the time looking around their pages to see if they have guest posting policies – many popular blogs will, and some of them will be quite specific.

Once you’re armed with this information, and you’re convinced that you have a great guest post topic that would be a perfect fit for their blog, send them a brief email introducing yourself and your guest post idea.

Make sure to be very personable and direct – as popular blogs get a LOT of guest post requests – many of them from spammers, so they will be very quick to delete anything that looks like a guest post request from someone just looking to score a backlink.

Make sure to address them by name, get the name of their blog right, and introduce yourself and who you are. Feel free to send one follow-up email after a week or two if they don’t respond, but after that, give it a good six months or so before you approach them again.

Even better, try to make a connection with the blogger on social media first so they know you’re a ‘real person’ and will recognise your name when you email them again.

2. How do I format the post?

Ideally, the blogger will give you the info on this. They should tell you what format they like you to submit your post in (text or word doc etc) and what size and format they want the pictures in. If they don’t, the easiest thing to do is just ask!

Send them a quick email asking how they’d like the post submitted.

If they don’t get back to you, or say ‘however!’ then I’d advise that you submit it in a .txt document and attach each image separately to the email. Try to make all your images the same width, and not so huge that they clog up the blogger’s inbox!

Also remember to include any links you want throughout the blog post – I usually just put the URL in brackets after the word/phrase I want the link to be.

Also remember to note where you want any pictures included – and name/number the pictures so it’s easy for the blogger to insert them!

3. Who owns the copyright?

You. You wrote it, you own the post.

That means you are fully within your rights to use that piece of writing anywhere else you choose. The blogger may ask that you don’t re-post the same post elsewhere, as that could affect the google ranking, but in the end, it’s up to you.

If in doubt, and if you want to use the same text elsewhere, just check with them BEFORE they publish it so there aren’t any issues.

4. Remember to send a bio + pic!

A big point of guest posting is to get your name out there – so take advantage of it!

Always send a short (2-3 sentences) bio and a nice headshot of yourself along with any guest post, and include 1-2 links in there, too.

Most bloggers will happily include this with your blog post, and it will make it a lot easier for readers to find out who you are, and where they need to go to read more of your wisdom.

I have personally found guest posting a great experience – it’s worth the effort!

{image by Kristina B}

The Success List: Success Looks a Lot Different to You Than it Does to Me, Right?

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What vision pops into your head when I say the word ‘success’?

Do you think I’m talking about success in your business – or success in your life?

And really – are they even two separate things?

Because to me, they’re pretty much one and the same.

I can’t define the success of my business separately from the success I feel in my self.

The success of my business is wrapped up tightly with not only my sense of achievement and self-worth as a person, but also with the sense of freedom and joy I feel when I think about the life and lifestyle I have chosen for myself.

I say chosen, because it is a choice. It’s not luck (though there is some of that in the mix). It’s not a blessing (because I worked my ASS off to get where I am, there was no divine agency involved).

I chose to walk the path less travelled.

I choose to live the life less lived.

I choose to live a lifestyle that can be supported by my choice of work.

If I wanted a big house in the suburbs, 3 kids, 2 cars, and the latest everything, it would be almost impossible with the money I currently earn.

So, instead, I choose to live in a converted shed with no bathroom or kitchen (they’re down in the main house) until we can build our own house. I choose not to have children so I have the freedom to travel and devote my life to my work – because that’s my joy. I choose to work longer hours than I ever did in a ‘real’ job so that I can make the money we need to live the life we do.

None of this – NONE of it – is a sacrifice. It is a choice, a choice I make joyfully, each and every day.

That being said, it’s also not something I’ve done alone. Without the love and support of my family, friends, customers, online colleagues, and,  most of all – my partner-in-life-and-crime/husband/rock/one-man-cheer-squad/food-maker/big-bunch-of-balloons-like-in-that-movie-UP – Nick, it would have been infinitely harder.

However I got here, and whatever here is… I feel like I have achieved a modicum of ‘success’ in my life. There are certainly many more mountains to climb, lions to tame, and rivers to cross… but for now, life it pretty damn great.

So – what is success?

I can’t tell you what success looks like to you, because honestly, it’s going to be hella different… but I can tell you what it means to me, and you might see some echos of your own version of success in there.

How to define success? I don’t think I CAN define it in a single sentence or pithy statement. What I can do, however, is give you (and me) snapshots of what success looks and feels like in my life, and from those snapshots, a broader and more beautifully vast vision can emerge.

And so, I give you my Success List.

Success is…

  • writing this blog post while sitting in a hotel room in Seattle, half-way through a 2-month trip around Canada and the USA that we were able to just decide to take – on a whim – because of the flexibility of our lives and the money in the bank – and because I wanted to attend the World Domination Summit (#WDS2013)
  • being able to get up and go to sleep every day at whatever time I want
  • structuring my day to suit me, rather than someone else’s schedule
  • doing the work I want, when I want
  • living in the country because I don’t have to commute
  • making enough money so my husband doesn’t have to have a job – he can stay home and work with me, and support me and our life by doing the bulk of the domestic chores, too
  • being free to chuck in work for a day and go to the beach (though, lets be honest, my inner workaholic doesn’t let me do this TOO often!)
  • making/having enough money to buy whatever I want whenever I want… thankfully, I prefer op shop clothes over designer duds, and my idea of fancy is a bottle of $20 wine and a block of good Lindt chocolate
  • being able to stop work at any given moment, walk into my bedroom, and cuddle my cat/husband/read a book for a while/go for a walk/lay outside in the paddock looking at the sky
  • (interlude – have you noticed that so far, I’ve pretty much been talking about my life, rather than my actual business? There’s a lesson there…)
  • being able to make beautiful things with my own two hands, and people loving them enough to buy them, so I know that my little droplets of beauty are spreading around the world
  • the joy of standing in front of a group of people who have a dream, and hopefully sharing something with them that will spark an idea or give them inspiration to make that dream a reality
  • having someone email me to tell me that something I put out there into the world changed their life. (This is a BIG one.)
  • getting to speak at this year’s Problogger Training Event (alongside people like Jonathan Fields, Darren Rowse, Clare Bowditch, Trey Ratcliff, Pip Lincolne, Amy Porterfield and Tsh Oxenreider)
  • being truly loved
  • laughing with my family every day
  • enacting my new ideas with passion
  • having the time to read a couple of novels every week on my kindle
  • making enough money to travel multiple times every year
  • being happy every day

That, right now, is what success means to me.

But hey… why stop there? Why not have a FUTURE Success List, too?

In the future, Success will be:

  • giving a TED talk
  • making my husband feel loved and valued every day
  • teaching people that they CAN live life differently and make a living following their passion
  • buying a beach house
  • taking care of my parents in their old age and making sure they never feel alone
  • taking care of my own health so that I can live to whatever age I live to in full health and vitality – able to do what I want to do until the day I die, because I never want to ‘retire’
  • finishing and publishing a book
  • speaking regularly all over the world
  • getting my jewellery in gallery shops
  • having a ‘proper’ art show with some unique, conceptual jewellery pieces
  • starting my own charity/legacy (I have one in mind, and have for years)
  • making every day joyful and meaningful
  • t.b.a. …

It’s amazing how writing this list opens you up – not only to the possibilities, but also to the awesome things you already have in your life!

It really makes you grateful and thankful for every wonderful thing you already have… and hopeful for those experiences to come in the future!

I would love, love, love to hear what success means to you, too.

In fact – here’s a challenge for you.

I challenge you to write a post on YOUR blog outlining your Success List.

(Feel free to steal the above photo and use it!!) 

Come back here and leave the link below in the comments/tweet me/facebook it etc etc… however you share, I’d love to read it.

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 P.S. You can share this post on twitter by clicking here to tweet: What does Success look like to you? @JessVanDen challenges you to share your #SuccessList with the world.

4 Reasons Why Teaching is a great Idea

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As makers, we have a wealth of information and skills at our disposal.  We know how to make every shade of neutral grey with watercolors.  We can bend ear wires with our eyes closed.  Or we can knit the most intricate pattern for a sweater. 

Well, guess what?  More and more people want to learn those skills to!  Teaching a class, whether in-person or online, has a lot of benefits for makers.

New Revenue Stream

Let’s be honest: we all have slow months of the year where our stress levels soar and our bank levels dip.  Being able to teach a class in that down time allows you to negate that stress and add some cash flow to your income.  Many courses can be set up to run on their own via email autoresponders, which means there’s minimal effort for you.  This is a perfect example of working smarter vs. working harder.

Network

You never know what amazing connections you will make by teaching.  Someone may become your customer after seeing how hard metalsmithing can be.  Or they may be a writer for a magazine who wants to feature you.  Or they may simply tell all of their girlfriends about you and help you rack up extra sales.

Gets You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Since we work from our studios so much, we can become isolated and introverted.  We fall into ruts that make us feel safe.  Teaching a class helps break up that pattern and gets your creative juices flowing.  When you work in-person with people, you also learn what they really want to learn and that allows you to get to know your customers better.  The knowledge you gain from a class will help you write an e-book, tweak a product, or design something new that fits their needs.

Become an ‘Expert’

You get to step into your ‘expert’ role.  So many of us belittle our skills.  We don’t think we have the right to call ourselves ‘experts’.  Well, guess what?  As the teacher, you are the undeniable expert.  You’ll not only become more confident in your skills but also in your products when you teach others a skill.  Confidence sells, ladies, so be assured that you know what you’re doing.

Most people worry that teaching others one of their skills means those people will become copycats who steal their secret formula for purl stitches or their signature style of painting.  If you set up your class the right way, there’s absolutely no reason to fear copycats.

Megan Auman, an amazing metalsmith and business coach, is running a new program called Do/Teach.  This 6-week program shows you how to create a signature class that sets you apart online and ensures your students won’t follow exactly in your footsteps.  By the end of Do/Teach, you’ll be ready to launch your first signature class!

Learning from Mistakes – or – What handmade business owners wish they knew when…

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{A note from Jess: Hey awesome creatives! I’m in Portland, Oregon this weekend, gearing up for the World Domination Summit! I’m sure I’ll have HEAPS of inspiration and awesomeness to share with you afterwards, but I don’t have the time to answer a Q&A this week… so here’s a fantastic post from Katia on why making mistakes is a good thing…}

Every year, when it comes closer to July, I feel like looking back and thinking about what I’ve learned and what would I do differently if I knew what I know now.

The journey between the first toy that I created and today has been such a learning curve!

Every new year I meet with one or two things that I’ve learned to take with me in order to make next year bigger and better.

Learning from the experience is so important, and knowing that other handmade business owners went through similar experiences and faced similar problems that they had to overcome is very comforting. Learning from each other does make the journey so much more easier!

When I meet successful handmade business owners, one of the first questions I want to ask them is “What you wish you knew when you just started?”

Thus, I asked a few of my fellow handmade business owners to reply to the same question:

“When I started my handmade business, I wish I knew…..”

Here are some of those replies:

…that all artists, creators and makers have days when they feel hopeless and failures and others when they feel that they could take on the world. The secret is to push through the negative days, they will and do pass. Nicola, Enoch and Plonk

…to be aware of the fact that consumers very much dictate the market and no matter how creative and how much ingenuity you display with your designs, if the consumer wants what is on trend, then that is what my display shall be filled with. Hollie, Little Goldfish Invitations & Stationery

To be so very aware of all of the different types of hats you must wear regularly and sometimes quite a few at the same time when running your business. From all the great stuff to the in-between and the boring – eg: designer, creator, accountant, marketing, warehouse, dispatch, customer service, financial controller, buying and many more. There is so much more to running a business than just the front face that people see. You always need to be on top of your game at the back end and on your toes every step of the way to make way for constant change. Greta, Colour & Spice

….that success can take a while. An over night success can also be a short lived one and anything of quality takes time. Nicola, Enoch and Plonk

….to get the branding correct from the beginning. Including a logo, business cards, stationery & website, all have proved so very invaluable. Sonia, OSONiA Designs

…how important it is to have confidence and place value on your time and abilities…and to keep clear accounting records from the start! Annaliese, Cordelle Jewellery

… that while people may try to copy my ideas, they will never replicate my quality and attention to detail. Have confidence in your products and never stop developing ideas”. Debra, Very Debra

….that I’d be spending most of my day on the computer, learning how to use accounting software, editing pictures, using photoshop, creating invoices e.t.c. The sooner you accept this and take the bull by the horns and learn how to overcome your computer fears, the quicker your business will grow. Being scared of obstacles that stand in your way, will not help you or your business to thrive. Be proactive from the start. Jump on to a computer course, ask for help, write down the advice you receive and keep it safe. Just don’t hide from it like I tried to, trust me, it won’t go away! Alison, Cheeky Pickle 

….who to ask advice from and get it right from the start. Find out as much information as you can and then make an informed descision to either keep it as a hobby or turn it into a business. Deena, DeeZigner Papercraft

.. that is impossible to do everything and asking for help is not so difficult. Managing my time as a mum at home with 2 young kids, work was and still my big challenge” Anne, Anou Design

…that markets aren’t so super scary – but they are a LOT of work!” – also for me it was VERY important to have the right insurance… running my business from home actually voided my original home-insurance – so I had to search out another company to cover me properly for business and separate home insurance. – this is something I always warn people about! – Melinda, A Little Creative

……that sometimes your creations will sell quick, sometimes they will be looking for the right customer for a while. Don’t feel discouraged, move on, make new things and keep being creative brining new creations to your customers. What is the worst that can happen?! If no one buys some of the items, clear them out on sale or re-design and just don’t make them again.” Katia, Plushka’s Craft

To sum up, here are the quick 5 top tips…

  • Work hard and pace yourself, success takes time and making mistakes is part of the journey.

  • Have confidence it what you make and be prepared to follow the customers’ taste.

  • Learn as much as you can and don’t hide from developing your skills when necessary.

  • Keep your records and correct branding from the start.  There is much more to the business then just making.

  • You are not a super-woman, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Do you have your own gem of wisdom to share?

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