10 steps to starting a small business
I lied. This is title 10 Steps to Starting a Small Business but after I finished Step One I realized this would be better off a first post of many, with the rest to follow.
Starting a successful small business is never an easy thing to do. According to the Small Business Association, “30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10.” After selling hundreds of orders on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay over the past three years I have been able to learn the main skills needed launching and starting an online business. Since all of my experience has been in the handmade industry that is where my focus and examples will be geared towards.
Let’s first imagine that you are sitting on your couch, watching one of those classic James Bond movies and all of a sudden you hear a loud Ch-ching! No, that wasn’t the sound of Daniel Craig getting hit, that was the sound of the Etsy app notifying you of your first order. As you watched TV. On a Saturday night. At 11pm. Can’t get much better than that.
So how do you actually get from reading this post, to thinking Daniel Craig sounds like a piggy bank get cracked open?
You first need to pick a product. How I went about this is completely unconventional and may sound a bit strange but I actually reverse-engineered it.
I knew a few basic features that my product must be:
- Must fit in a small flat rate box
- Must be customizable
- Must be easy to store
- Must be able to sell for around $20+
- Must be able to scale (become quicker to make, the more I produce)
These reasons are all a MUST if you want to run a successful shop. Of course there are other ways to sell a lot and become successful but I am talking about sustainable, impactful success.
To save space, and not bore you to death, if you actually want to know the reasoning behind any of these reasoning please leave a message in the comment section below and I will give you all the information and thinking behind these features.
One of the things while I was going through this checklist that popped into my mind was drink coasters. I know maybe a little strange for a young male to want to produce, but I knew they were popular, collected, and fit all of my criteria.
When you finally have gone through this list and have landed on a few products that you might be interested in making you will want to check out if there is actually money to be made in this sector. So here is what I advise. Go on www.Etsy.com, type in _________ (your product idea) and scroll through the results. Follow along now by typing in Drink Coasters in the search bar.
139,725 different results come up as of October 13th 2018. That’s a lot. Like a ton. Like a scary amount. A quantity that makes you think about life questions and wonder if there is maybe something wrong with the world.
But anyways, scroll through the first couple of pages. There are engraved coasters, felt coasters, wood coasters, stamped coasters, photo coasters, and yes even knitted coasters of a cat’s bottom. (Yes kind of strange, but if you are into that kind of stuff …check them out here https://www.etsy.com/listing/290631585 )
One of the best ways to find out what you are good at is to first identity all the things you are bad it. I know I will never be able to knit in a million years, I have no idea how to engrave stone, and so on. The list of things I am bad at or have no idea how to do is really, really, long. But I do know that I know like using wood, I have made stamps in art class before and really enjoyed that, and I like photography. A word of advice, if you search your proposed product and have no idea on how to make any of the items or lack the skill, equipment, or time to do so it may be a good idea to look into some other product first.
Here is where I made a rookie mistake. I saw wood coasters. I know how to use a saw. Wood is cheap. So my brain told me to make wood coasters.
THIS WAS A BAD BAD BAD IDEA.
The time it took to measure wood, cut wood, sand wood, and stain wood took me FOREVER. Most wood coasters are selling for $15-30. The time I spent on making my first sets of coasters of coasters took whatever profit left and if I took into account labor in terms of time and money I lost money.
Since stamping is something that once again I know how to, I decided to start there. I had a few old rusty carving tools from past crafting attempts and found a 4” x 6” block of rubber from an old school art project. I flipped the block over and now I had a clean slate to carve into. (Pre made rubber stamps could also be bought from your local craft store like Joann’s or Michaels but if you are going to sell the items make sure you are aware of the angle policy) I also then purchased some travertine tiles from a local tile supplier, stamped on to the tiles, and added a cork backing to protect the table.
Now I had the product and I was ready to list the items.
Ready for the next step? How to Professionally List Your Products (Step #2)
Comment below your questions or to just say hello!
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