Guest Post: 10 Tips for Running a Small Business (Handmade)

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By: Lera owner of The Pop-Up Shop Party | Small Business Owner | Entrepreneur

Running a handmade business can be a hard, yet rewarding process.
Here are 10 tips to make it a bit easier :)

1. Perfectly Imperfect
The biggest thing that I learned about myself since starting a handmade business was that I am a perfectionist. I didn’t realize how much of one I am until I would stress out at the littlest things.
But you know what? This is a handmade business. Your items are handcrafted by you. Meaning no two items will every really be completely the same (if it’s a completely handmade item).
Something somewhere will be different. And that’s okay.
You know why? Because that’s what makes your piece’s unique! People search for handmade items because they want that extra something that you just don’t find buying at big box stores!
So let go of that inner perfectionist (as much as you can) and embrace the mini flaws (that only you notice) within your products!

2. Don’t Under Price Yourself
You are a small handmade business. You cannot compete with big box stores or their prices.
You need to consider all the time and effort you put into creating your items. I’m not even talking about how much the supplies cost. I’m talking labor. Some handmade items take hours upon hours to make.
Don’t ever sell yourself short! You deserve to get paid. People who buy handmade and appreciate it, are more than willing to pay a little extra for your creation.

3. Do Not Compare Yourself
When I started my shop, I would spend hours looking at other shops. Trying to compare my prices to them, my photos…etc.
Learning from each shop as I looked through it.
But one thing I did, that did not benefit me in anyway, was compare myself to all of these shops.
It’s an easy thing to do. You see a shop with hundreds of sales, look at yours and see you only have five sales.
Now you’re thinking, why aren’t I selling by the hundreds? And you’re feeling down about it.
But STOP!
That shop that you’re comparing yourself with, has been up and running for quite some time. They started off right where you are!
So instead of feeling bad and down about only having a few sales, remember you just started!
Your shop needs time to gain loyal customers and set a reputation. Once it does, the sky is the limit!

4. Work Everyday
Work on your handmade business every day.
What differentiates your business from your hobby is how you act towards it.
A hobby is done only now and then.
A business needs work even when you don’t feel like it.
This doesn’t mean spend hours upon hours every day (guilty!) This just means do something small each day.
Research your targeted market and take notes.
Sketch out an idea.
Buy supplies.
Spend some time with Photoshop or practicing your picture taking skills.    
Spend a little time a day perfecting your craft!
Just work, every day. Little by little, you will have a business up and running in no time!

5. Have a Variety of Items
I’ve noticed sales come in waves. One week you have sales popping up daily and then it’s quiet for a couple weeks.
But when the sales pick up, it can be a very joyous moment or a very stressful one when you realize you need to make 5+ items to be shipped out ASAP.
That’s when having a variety of items in your store can become a life saver.
Have a mix of one of a kind (ooak) items ready to be shipped as well as easy to repeat items.
Not only does this bring a bit of variety to your store, but it makes life so much easier when all you have to do is package an item and it’s off to its new home.

6. Don’t Be Afraid of Change
Change is one of the toughest things we all go through. Some embrace it with open arms, while others tend to shy away from it.
Don’t.
Now that you’ve got a small business running, you’re going to be changing quite a bit. This is a good thing!
As you learn from your mistakes, perfect your SEO, and picture skills you will be changing things up.
My shop looks nothing like it did when I started. Neither does my Instagram.
My mind has even changed with the way I view things from a business owner’s side.
Your shop changing just means it’s evolving.

7. Learn From Your Competition
When you just start out you don’t always know what you’re doing.
So what do you do? You look at your competitors!
You look at how they price their items, and how their pictures are taken. You see what sells and what doesn’t.
As you do this, you are learning from them. Thing’s they might have had to learn through trial and error.
But don’t just focus on everything they’re doing right.
Take a few minutes and look for the flaws.
Do they ignore their comments on social media?
See their reviews, are they customer friendly?
Notice how they talk about their product, do they sound proud of it or did they just rush the description?
Find these little flaws and make them some of your strengths.

8. Stand Out
You either have a very unique niche market that you’re targeting or you are making items many other shops are making.
Think of jewelry, there are hundreds upon hundreds of jewelry stores. How do you stand out?
What makes a person see your item vs someone else’s and pick you?
When it comes to handmade, a lot of times it comes down to how good your product is and how well you present it.
Spend time perfecting your art and show the love you have for it through your work.

9. Photos, Photos, Photos
Selling online is a blessing if you think about it. You literally have the whole world as your potential customers.
But in order to get the whole world interested, you need to give them something they want.
We as people are very visual beings. Why do you think photo apps are so popular?
We respond to photos in many ways. Use that to your advantage.
Practice, practice, practice, and practice some more.
The only way people from across the world will see your product is through a photo.
Need help with your photos? Check out our article on product photography tips & tricks.
Make that photo count!

10. Become Best Friends with Social Media
Social Media is your golden ticket. I’ve gotten more sales through Instagram than I have through Etsy.
Why? Because Instagram lets me engage with my customers.
It lets me get to know who my customers are.
Try out the different social media platforms, choose one or two and learn all you can about them.
Then use them! Be consistent, post, answer comments, and most importantly be you!

*Bonus Tip*

Get Creative
Challenge yourself to try new things. New mediums, new art techniques, new color palettes
Go out of your way and get creative.
Get creative with your product, your photos, and your social media accounts.
Keep trying until you find something that clicks and use it.
Running a handmade business is a crazy rollercoaster of a journey and it's worth every moment.

What tips would you like to share?

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2 comments

  1. I agree with you on being yourself and not undervaluing your products! I see small business owners struggle with charging their worth due to fear. I also love that you encourage people to be themselves and to work everyday. Each day you are building upon the last and moving one step closer to your dream. Never give up!

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    1. Yes! I agree with everything in this 100% Lera is a wonderful small business owner and blogger. I definitely struggle with my prices, but that's just because I know I love a good deal πŸ˜„It's definitely important to keep working towards our dreams!

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