Lets Talk Business - Starting your own business Part 1


I'm no business expert  - I never studied business, never read a book about success and my idea of a business strategy comes from watching episodes of The Apprentice (UK not US) but ever since I started working for myself 5 years ago I've become slightly obsessed with it (business, not The Apprentice!) I now love researching, writing spreadsheets and doing my Etsy homework like a good teachers pet but it took a while to fall in love with it. I'm a creative person, messy, emotional, generally disorganised and I tend to make decisions from the heart rather than my head, but if you want to have a creative business you need to stretch those brain cells and learn. I've found that teaching yourself to be business savvy goes a long way and although painful at times, learning from your mistakes and being honest with yourself makes your business better not worse!
So I figured, hey, why not share some things I've learnt along the way and I hope its as interesting to read as it is to write!

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Have a great idea but don't know where to start? Maybe I can help!

So lets talk business and start at the beginning.

1. Find your passion!
Easier said than done especially if like me you have lots of passions and interests but these questions should help narrow it down:
  • What do you love doing or making? 
  • What gets you excited and can start you on a rant at the mention of it? 
  • What could you not stop doing? 
  • What are you good at? 
Write down everything you can think of, not just ideas that involve money making. If you love playing the piano write it down, if you love eating cheese write it down! Theres no wrong answers and all will reveal something to you. Then with a highlighter pen mark all the things that could be turned into a business - if you like eating cheese maybe you should make you own cheese and sell it to farm shops and at markets? If you like playing the piano maybe its time to start playing at weddings or parties? Have a brain storm, sit down with a cuppa and let your imagination run wild!

It can take time to find your niche and theres no shame in changing your mind a few times, its all part of figuring out what your best at. When I started I Love Crafty 5 years ago I made soaps and candles which I sold at markets, jewellery making wasn't even on my business horizon. Before that I wanted a wedding dress shop and to design my own dresses - when you start you never know where you'll end up - who knows, maybe in the future there maybe a ILC wedding shop! Its your dream, so dream big!

2. Research is a dreams best friend. 
When I was painting the walls of my little shop in Bristol, I'd sing along to Disney's Princess and the Frog soundtrack and these words stuck with me:

"I remember Daddy told me, fairy tales can come true, you gotta make 'em happen, it all depends on you" 

It's all well and good to dream but unless you make some plans to make them happen they won't become real. Some dreams and ideas seem so big and crazy that the prospect of starting gives you a headache but the best advice I can give you for this is to make some small, sensible plans and research what you want to do. All big things start small so don't get overwhelmed at the beginning. Make lists and stick to them!

For example when I started I knew nothing about soap and candle making so first on my list: Learn about soap making. The internet can be a glorious fountain of knowledge and so I googled "soap making" and off I went. It became my new obsession, I learnt all I could about different recipes and processes, the amazing psychology behind scents and fragrances, bought a few ingredients and worked like a crazy scientist in my kitchen. So you might not be an expert in what you want to do now, but with research you soon will be and when you know your stuff it really shows. You work will be better, you'll have happier customers and your business should be successful. So get out that pen and paper and research, ask yourself:

  • Am I filling a niche/gap in the market?
  • How many other businesses offer a similar product (searching Etsy is a great place to start)
  • How will my business be different?
  • What can I offer that others can't? 

3. Reality bites but I have an ointment for that. 
Working for yourself and starting your own business can be amazing/ rewarding/ fulfilling/ heart satisfying but its also HARD work and so you better like what you propose to do.

You know all that spare time you have watching films, drinking coffee with friends and playing computer games (that might just be me) well you may have to wave goodbye to that for a while. Starting a business is a BIG decision and if like me you are still working on the side to pay your rent then I'm afraid your spare time may suffer. At the beginning all my evenings and weekends were being eaten up by hours spent researching market venues, making crafty connections and making my products and I've got to admit, I loved it! I can do some of my best work in the middle of the night but be aware that you need breaks and time relaxing. Theres nothing worse than feeling burnt out at the very beginning. Its a magical balancing act between the burning fires of creativity and ambition driving you forwards and the most important time of anyones life, being with those who we love and although the balance can be hard to achieve its good to have your eye on it at the begining. Trust me, I'm still trying to get it right!

Here are some practical questions to ask yourself and be honest, it might save you some bother in the future:
  • Do you work well on your own?
  • Do you have a lot of self motivation?
  • Can you stick to a list?
  • Are you money savvy?
If your answer is no to these questions its not the end of the world or your business, it can all be learnt and achieved - you can teach an old dog new tricks!

So thats part 1, I hope you've found it useful and part 2 will be posted soon. I'll talk about taking the big step into the big bad world! (Its not all that bad.)

"Never start a business just to "make money." Start a business to make a difference" - Marie Forleo. 


Comments

  1. Thank you for this post Laura! I just started a Big Cartel store to sell the headbands I've been making since last Summer and I absolutely loved this! xxx

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