How to Take Your Craft Business to the Next Level

Whether you are tired of working at your day job, you want to earn some extra money on the side, or you are looking to monetize the passion that already consumes a good part of your week, turning your craft into a profitable business may be a good option.

But, just because it may seem good doesn’t mean that success will come easy or that it will even come at all.

What most business experts out there don’t tell you is that one of the hardest parts about turning your hobby into a viable business is the mental flip that has to happen. If you want your hobby to become a serious source of income, then you have to treat it this way. Without this initial, internal shift, it will be very hard to put the systems, processes, and goals in place needed to build a sustainable business.

That said, here are 9 steps that you need to take if you really want to cash in on your hobby:

Step 1: Get out of the “hobbiest” mentality. There’s nothing wrong with being an artist, designer, or crafter. But, until you start looking at yourself as perusing a professional career designing handmade items, you will never get to the next level.

Step 2: Get to know your ideal customer. The second step is finding out if there is a market big enough for your products. If the answer is yes, then you need to settle on a profile of your ideal customer. This is important because it helps you to figure out what your customers want, how best to reach them, and how to craft your marketing strategy.

Step 3: Build up your systems. By “systems,” I’m referring to appropriate time management, inventory management, payment processing, as well as accounting programs and tools. Having the right systems and processes in place will help you to create structure in your craft business which will allow things run smoothly and efficiently. Don’t give in to the urge to resist them. As I mentioned above, making the transition from crafter to business owner is critical, and that process starts with figuring out how all the aspects of your business will come together in a professional way.

Step 4: Embrace technology. Even for the most tech-phobic craters and artisans, in just about every niche imaginable, there are powerful, yet extremely easy-to-use programs that are designed to help small business owners run their business better. Find out what businesses similar to yours are using, and pick 2 or 3 core products to try out.

Step 5: Invest in yourself financially. There is no such thing as a business that you can start and run for free. Every successful business requires an investment of some sort- whether it is an investment of time, money, tools and equipment, or some kind of combination. Don’t sell your business short by skimping on the tools, professional services, training, and other support you need to be successful.

Step 6: Identify your niche. You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t even bother trying. Generally, the more defined your niche, the better. You just need to make sure that your niche is big enough to earn the income you are looking for. Once you’ve established your business and have built up a customer base, then you can think about expanding into other areas.

Step 7: Create a memorable brand. Don’t just let your products speak for themselves. Create a unique identity of you and your company in order to connect with your customers in a more personal and memorable way. So, don’t be afraid to show your personality and some of the behind the scenes parts of your business.

Step 8: Partner up with other businesses and entrepreneurs. As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. If you want to expand your reach, then one of the best ways to do that is to join forces with other businesses and craters that compliment your own products. You can, for example, co-host an event or cross-promote your products. Such collaborations tend to uplift all the businesses involved.

Another aspect of making connections is getting support and feedback from those who have businesses similar to yours. Don’t underestimate how important this is- especially if you are new to running a business!

Step 9: Get feedback from your customers. This last step is vital to the continued success and growth of your craft business, but so many new business owners overlook it. Make it a point to regularly ask your customers what they like and dislike about your products and the way you serve them. You can also find out what other types of products they may be interested in over the future.

Obviously, the kind of feedback you get will depend on how loyal and engaged your customer-base is; it also depends on what questions you ask and in what format. You can get this valuable feedback in several ways, such as emailing your customers a short list of questions, using a free app like Survey Monkey, or asking questions over social media.

Turning your hobby into a viable business may take an initial change in attitude and some hard work, but the potential rewards are great. Pay attention to the steps mentioned above, and your favorite hobby or pastime may soon become a source of serious income.

Low-Cost Business Opportunities You Can Start in Your Neighborhood

You don’t need to travel so far to find a good business opportunity, and you don’t need to run a strictly online business, either. There are many, profitable business ideas that you can do within your own community and for little investment.

1. Crafts and Creative Products. Many successful businesses got their start as hobbies. If you keep getting positive feedback about the items you create, and there seems to be a strong demand, then it you may be able to turn it into a viable business. You just need to be clear about who your market is and how you are going to reach them.

2. Home and Business Decor. Enjoy playing around with different textures, colors, furnishings, and lighting. Do you find yourself walking into rooms and other spaces and mentally designing a new and improved layout? Then you may want to consider going into home and business decor. Unlike its more technical cousin, interior design, there is no certification required for this kind of job. You could work with local homeowners or head over the restaurants, stores, and offices in your community and see if they could benefit from your services. You could help with window displays and holiday themes or create a more efficient set up.

3. Professional Organizer. If organizing is your thing, then you can put your talents into a business helping other companies, organizations, and individuals make the most of their time and resources. For more information on this occupation and other helpful resources, see The National Association of Professional Organizers.

4. Image Consultant/ Fashion Coach. Do you enjoy helping others shop for clothes? Are you good at spotting the strengths that others possess and knowing how to highlight them? Image consultants and fashion coaches help their customers bring out the best of themselves to both build confidence and present an eye-catching personal brand.

5. Reconditioning Furniture, Antique Refurbishment, Re-purposing. This business opportunity is for those who find themselves heading to the local yard sales, thrift shops, flea markets, and even the dump in search of items that can be brought back to life or given an entirely new use. You could sell your creations online or via craft fairs. You could even turn your garage or some other room in your house into a mini show room.

6. Selling unwanted items. You could make a business helping people get rid of unwanted belongings. As the saying goes, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Save people the effort of selling those old or unused items by hosting a yard sale on your property or selling it on eBay, Craigslist, etc. Many would gladly do it especially if you gave them a cut of the sale price.

7. Childcare. If you are good with kids then you could start a babysitting or daycare business in your home. Many states will not require a license if you plan on only having a small number of kids. Just check with your local State Department of Children and Family Services. Even if you do need to get a license, it is usually pretty cheap, and the process for getting certified relatively easy.

8. Computer Repair. Computer repair is a great business, because many people have computers, but not so many know how to fix them when they break. You could visit customers in their homes or where possible make repairs remotely.

9. Catering and unique food products. If you like to cook and bake, or you make something unique as a hobby, then you could sell the food items you make. There are many possibilities: you could be a caterer, you could make baked goods or other specialty items and sell them in local shops and fairs.

10. Home Staging and Reconditioning. If your community has been hit by the waves of foreclosures sweeping through the country, you could start a business that will make these properties more sellable. There are several possible angles to take, such as clean up and garbage removal, interior re-conditioning and decorating, and sprucing up the surrounding, external property.

11. Event Planning. If you enjoy organizing events and meeting new people, then you might want to consider event planning. You could specialize in an assortment of different events, such as parties, weddings, business events, and group outings.

12. Cleaning Services and garbage removal. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then you could start a cleaning business. Like event planning above, you could specialize in cleaning one kind if area or even items and materials. Some popular cleaning services include cleaning: offices, cars, yards, homes, and dorm rooms.

13. Errands. If you have a gas efficient vehicle, such as a small car, a motorcycle, or even a good bike, you could earn money doing errands such as shopping, deliveries, and pick ups for those in the community who don’t have the time or the means to travel.

Pet Care Services. If you like being around animals, then you may want to start a pet care service. In this area you have several possibilities:

14. Pet sitting. Go to pet owners’ homes or in some cases take the pets home with you and tend to the needs of their pets such as feeding and watering them. There’s actually a whole site dedicated to this profession. Check out Pet Sitters International.

15. Pet taxi service. If you have a car or truck, you could make a business driving pets around to the vet or to a grooming appointment, or some other destination. You’ll need to buy a pet crate or know how to secure the animal in the vehicle with safety straps.

16. Pet photography. If you’re a talented photographer and know how to work with pets, then this may be an option to consider. All you need is a few simple props and a good camera. You could go to people’s homes or set your self up at a local business.

17. Other pet business ideas…. Pet grooming, dog walking services, creating healthy, fresh pet food or snacks

 

Tips for Dividing Business Founder Equity

When multiple people are involved in starting and building a new business, it is very easy to overlook what seems to be a small, mundane issue: how to divide founders’ equity. But, if a bit of forethought is brought in at the beginning regarding the definition of ownership and the anticipated compensation that each of the founding members will receive, then it can save a tremendous amount of headache and heartache down the road.

 

There is no clear-cut, easily agreed-upon formula for dividing equity. Equal division among those who started the company may seem  to be the simplest option. Yet, it opens the door to resentment against founders who are viewed as less active in developing the business. Furthermore, while equal division reduces complexity, it does not fairly assess each founder’s work contribution. Dividing “fairly” demands greater reflection and serious thought about the value of various roles.

Among the factors to be considered are idea development, business plan preparation, marketing ability, and money contribution. Risk-taking, commitment, and responsibility also determine a founder’s value. The business’s founders have to take a nuanced look at these factors, and decide upon their worth. For example, the initial idea for a product or service is important, but useless if not developed or sold. Writing a business plan takes hard work, but it does not guarantee business success. Having many contacts improves one’s marketing prowess, but does not prove the sale.

Even when a founder provides technology or a clients, the value of each is not clear-cut. Perhaps the founder who raises business capital is more vital to the business. Likewise, a founder who quits a job to devote oneself to the new business might deserve more equity.

At the outset, deciding who will be considered a founder can be confounding. Usually, there are three main founding roles: the idea person, the marketing/business generator, and the CEO who can start and raise money.

When dividing equity, founders can expect to have heated discussions about the value of each one’s contributions. The following guidelines can help get the conversation moving in a productive way:

  • Implement transparency. Clearly outline performance expectations and evaluation processes. Well-understood goals and transparent decision will create an atmosphere of fairness.

 

  • Write an agreement. Don’t just talk about dividing founders’ equity, write it down. A written plan equalizes expectations, and can avoid arguments further down the line.

 

  • Delay incorporation. Before incorporating as an actual business, have the founders start working on development and sales. This gives each one a chance to prove his or her worth before determining the division of equity.

 

  • Hire legal counsel. Some might feel that there’s no need for the law among friends. Instead, founders who hire an attorney to represent them not only protect their own interests, but can extend the life of the friendship by avoiding future arguments.