I failed. My business was losing money, and I was missing the energy and motivation to sustain it. It wasn’t always that way.
When I started my business, I wanted it to be full of handmade products. I felt passionate about creating items with my hands. Handmade companies take a lot of time and money, both of which I was short on. My ambition was through the roof, but I didn’t have a clear plan of action or the financial means to achieve this.
Like many, I started a handmade business creating a product I liked to make. The product was a hard sell, especially at my high price point. When trying to sell at craft fairs, many potential customers would complement the work and follow up with, “But, what do you do with them?” I would spend countless hours creating, then stood behind a table for many more hours and would barely make enough to cover booth fees, let alone make a profit.
It was soul-crushing.
I tried to adjust by selling several different types of products and settled with those that got the most significant reactions from customers. I used the feedback to create cohesive designs and product lines. I also adjusted how I marketed my products, so confusion wouldn’t be there anymore.
It didn’t help. My current business was not working the way I wanted it to. I was spending more money than I should have, and it was stressing me out. I couldn’t devote as much time as was needed to not only get everything done but also to master my craft. I was also losing passion for the business, which eventually translated to my customers. I was making products I thought would sell, looking at other companies with jealousy, trying to find the secret.
I made the decision to close my business. It wasn’t easy, and I felt guilt over the money lost and years wasted. I took much needed time off and reflected on my failures to improve my next try. I still wanted to be an entrepreneur. However, I needed to create a business that fits in with my life, time, excitement, and financial means.
So looking back, here are five tips to help make your business a success:
Create a Business Plan
Coming up with a business plan is essential. It provides a space to think about your business goals, products, marketing, and more. Take the time to understand why you are starting a company and how you plan to succeed. Having a plan in place before you create your first product helps you know how and why.
Start with a Handful of Products
Don’t try to do too much once. Start with less than five products. You can have variations of these but limit the product types. Test them out with customers and get honest feedback. Figure out what is selling and what isn’t. Take the time to get a feel for your business and products. You may find that it takes too long to make items or save money on different materials. It is better to start small and build, then drown before you really get going.
Build a Network of Local Entrepreneurs
Get to know other business owners, especially local ones. You can learn a lot from them. It is also lovely to have a network of people going through the same struggles and successes. Being a business owner is hard work, and no one knows that more than other entrepreneurs. You might also make a few friends.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
Know how much money you have and create a reasonable budget. The point of a business is to make a profit. You also want to pay yourself and employees, if you have any. The easiest way to sink your company is by overspending and paying too much for supplies. You probably aren’t starting out with a lot of money, so don’t spend it like you have a million-dollar company. Staring slow and only spending money on essentials is vital. Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t start in the red, but it helps you grow out of it as your business continues.
Avoid Comparing Your Business to Others
It is ok to have aspirations. It is ok to look at other businesses as inspiration. However, don’t try to be another version of that company. Don’t gauge your successes off that of others. You and your business are unique, and you need to focus on that. There is no magic formula for success, but you definitely won’t find it by being envious of or mimicking others.