You’ve been making pies for the church, arranging flowers for friends’ weddings or knitting the cutest little baby booties for the new arrivals in the neighborhood – and you’ve gotten pretty good at it. Maybe you’ve even started making some money on the side, and you’re starting to think it’s time to take your talent from a hobby to a business. Before going any further, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to sell my product or offer my service?
- Do I have time to run a business?
- Where will I sell my products? (brick & mortar location, online?)
- Do I feel confident in my products or services?
- How much business knowledge do I have; and where will I need assistance?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses in relation to what I’m offering?
- Do I have a vision for my brand?
Once you have a handle on the above questions (you don’t have to have all the answers yet, but should have identified where you’ll need to put extra attention), it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of running and promoting your business.
Here are 5 tips, based on my own experience, to help you get started.
Create a budget. It’s vital you have a realistic understanding of how much it costs to make your business go, including cost of goods sold, aka “COGS”; overhead, such as rent and utilities; and taxes you will be required to pay. Once you know this, you can figure how much you’ll need to charge to cover your costs and take home a profit.
Know your niche. Your niche is your special place in the market – what makes you and your business unique. In soap making, it could be using all-natural products, or fun, brightly colored designs made to appeal to children. To zero in on your niche, you need to know what is important to you. Once you know your niche, it will help you to understand how to market your products, which brings us to…
Build a brand identity. Having a strong brand identity is what brings recognition in the marketplace. This identity will help you in the messaging for your product or service. Are you known for planning playful kiddie parties or posh adult affairs? Brand identity communicates your spin on a product or service and shows up in logos and packaging as well as the “voice” you use in talking about your business.
Advertise yourself. The voice you choose becomes the voice you use in social media, on your website, and in printed pieces. Digital platforms often serve as a customer’s first impression of you and your product or service, so it’s important to be where your customers are “socializing” online. Do some research to understand what social media platforms your ideal customers are on, and start your social media efforts there. Be consistent in posting over the long haul, and have fun! Social media is a great place to experiment to see what kinds of posts and subjects are best received.
This will take work & time. Progress toward building your business can be slow. Be sure to take the time to look back and count the small wins that you rack up along the way; they are all building to bigger and better things.
With a plan, passion and a little patience, you can live your passion and have meaningful work for the rest of your life.