6 Ways to Run a Craft Business from Home |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
If you’ve ever created handmade goods for friends and family as gifts, you’ve probably wondered how you can use your skills to start a craft business. Here are six ideas to start a successful home craft business.
My wife makes children’s clothes. Watching her market her craft over the years has taught me how I can use shoestring marketing tactics to sell my writing. Not only do these methods work like a charm, but if you are diligent in marketing your crafts through the six sales channels, you will be amazed at how rapidly your business will grow.
If you sell books, sell at book shows and conferences related to the types of books you sell. My wife has done well selling her children’s clothes at local craft shows, fire company events, and tractor shows.
Yes, I said tractor shows. She makes modest children’s clothing by hand and tractor shows are frequented by people with an interest in the vintage past.
The trick is to find out where your target audience hangs out and to set up shop there. Whether you sell handmade jewelry, wood furniture, wrought iron garden supplies, or some other craft, you have some idea who your ideal customer is. Find out where they shop and put your craft business there. Pay a booth fee if you have to.
The beauty behind craft shows is that they typically take place over the course of a few days, usually on weekends, so you can create your crafts between events. Take business cards. My wife has sold more clothes after the show simply by passing out business cards.
Set Up a Website With An E-commerce Store
Online marketing is a whole new gig altogether, but it’s relatively inexpensive. A $500 website is an expense you can calculate against the life of your business. If you sell just $100 worth of merchandise in your first five years, it will pay for itself.
On the other hand, free open source software like WordPress – with its huge volume of free plugins and a community of support volunteers – can offer an inexpensive way to establish your craft business online. You might have to learn some new skills – and all you have to pay for is a domain name (about $10/year) and hosting (less than $10/month), but, believe me, it’s well worth it.
This channel works better in conjunction with your own website, but you don’t need a website to sell through social media. Chances are, you’re already there.
Facebook allows you to set up a fan page, and it’s free. You can add a store to your page that will allow your fans to buy your products through Facebook. You can also promote your craft items by pinning images of your creations on Pinterest, sharing them with friends on Instagram, and attracting your audience through other social media websites.
Find out where your audience hangs out and go social.
Search for consignment shops in your area and contact the owners. Some retail stores sell items completely on consignment. Others make special arrangements with crafters whose items they like.
Whether you sell handmade clothes, jewelry, iron products, wood furniture, or another type of craft, there are stores ready to take your items on consignment and sell them for you.
Become a Wholesaler
If you make items that can be replicated, then you might sell them wholesale to retailers.
Unlike with consignment, you can charge retailers up front for your craft items if they buy them in multiple units. You won’t make as much per unit this way, but if you get a few good retailers who can push your products out the door as quickly as you deliver them, then you can establish for yourself a steady stream of income.
Online Craft Vendors
You’ve likely heard of eBay. Many crafters have used eBay over the years to sell their items online. The advantage to using a site like eBay is you don’t have to build your own website, but you do have to give up a percentage of the sale for the privilege of listing your items.
Another popular website where crafters sell their items is Etsy.
Amazon allows third-party vendors to list their items for sale and is a great place for many craft vendors.
You may be able to find a specialty website for your type of craft just by Googling “craft directory” and your type of craft (i.e. “jewelry,” “greeting cards,” or “wood furniture”). Print-on-demand stores like Café Press and Zazzle allow crafters to open an online store and sell to their audiences for a commission fee.
Artsy Shark has published a large list of craft vendor websites where you can sell your goods.
Conclusion: Run Your Craft Business Like a Business
With some diligence and hard work, you can run your craft business frugally and sell your craft items online and in the real world. Keep in mind that your craft business is a business. Therefore, your goal should be to bring more money in than you spend to keep it running. When you achieve that goal, you’ll have a profitable craft business and you can build upon your success with more success.
Seek out sales channels that require no expenses unless you make a sale, and diversify your portfolio so that if one sales channel dries up, you still have other income streams. Start small and take one step at a time.
SEE ALSO: Transforming Your Hobby Into A Career
© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.
Choosing a Business Name? Avoid These 6 Mistakes |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
Choosing a good name for your business isn’t easy. You want it to reflect your business’ personality and be catchy without being silly. Before you make your final decision, be sure you avoid these business naming mistakes.
A business name that is appealing and memorable can do wonders for a business’s bottom line. On the other hand, no matter how great a business is, an inappropriate or poorly-chosen name can have a negative impact on its success — especially when first starting out.
Some aspects of selecting a business name are subjective and reflect the personal wishes and preferences of the owner.
There are, however, some mistakes that business owners make in naming their establishments that just don’t make good business sense. Avoid these and you’ll be on the road to having a business name that will serve as a real asset and hopefully bring many profitable returns.
1. Getting stuck in alphabet soup
A business name that comes at the beginning of the alphabet can be a plus since many business listings are alphabetical; however, some businesses have taken this strategy to absurd levels. Phone book pages produce a staggering number of businesses starting with the letter A, a number of which are somewhat nonsensical: “AAAAA Locksmith” and “AAA Active Appliance.” Other than another word that starts with the letter A, what purpose does the word “Active” serve? Using A, B, or C as the first letter of your business name can help get you an A+ in profits, but be sure the name is something that makes sense and is something you can be proud of.
2. Using names that are too long, or difficult to understand, spell or pronounce
The idea is to get people to remember your business name and to be able to understand it, spell it and pronounce it. It should also be short enough to fit on a business card or display on a sign. I doubt the “Floccinaucinihilipilification Company” name would be easy to pass along by word-of-mouth or found readily in a phone book, directory or on the Net. It actually is a word that means “nonexistence” and that’s probably what would happen to any business using it as their name; namely, no longer exist.
3. Picking business names that limit business growth
Choose a business name that is wide-ranging enough to give your business growing room.
Geographic business names are popular; i.e., Hidden Springs Housecleaners. But what happens if your business takes off and you’d like to expand the geographic area you cover or even go national? Unless you’re sure you want to stay in one particular location, avoid using geography in your business name. The same goes for naming a business after one product or service: “Al’s Refrigerator Repair Service’s” name would need to change if Al decides to take on air-conditioner repair. Lastly, stay away from names that describe current fads or trends: When the new “Millennium Diner” opened in 1999, it sounded timely — six year later, it sounds dated.
4. Letting the grey areas get you discouraged or immobilized
A business name should be one or more of the following: memorable, descriptive, imaginative or distinctive. How to go about this is where the “experts” disagree.
A good way to start is to write down key words that describe what your business is and does, and what you pride yourself on. Use a dictionary and thesaurus to find different words that express these things. Also look for famous expressions that might pertain to your business.
So, let’s say “Mary” has a small business selling her delicious fruit tarts, and she considers herself to be the best at what she does. Mary names her business “Queen of Tarts” because: she loves the play on words, it expresses what her business is and does, and the word “queen” is perfect — she’s female and her thesaurus shows that “queen” also means “person of authority.”
The following techniques of naming businesses are ones that naming pros both love and hate, depending on which pro you speak to. Review the following “bones of contention.” It will be up to you to decide if any of these feel right for you and your business name. Keep in mind your target market, the key elements of your business and mission statement, and — above all — trust that feeling in your gut.
Alliteration: The repetition of the same sounds at the beginning of words
If your name is Cathy, and you’re selling collectibles, you could name your business “Cathy’s Collectibles.”
Coinage: The invention of new words
“Forever Nailz” salon and “ErgoGrip” pens
Descriptive Words: Words in a business name that convey immediately what your business does
“Frank’s Reliable Lawn Care” and “Commercial Cleaning Corp.”
Puns: A play on words
“Hair Force One” and “Shear Artistry” haircutting salons
5. Being an island
You’ve thought up 15 business names that are in the final running, and you think they’re all pretty good. Now is the time to get some feedback. Run those names by some close colleagues, family and friends. You might be surprised at the number of things they bring to your attention that you’ve overlooked. A little constructive objectivity goes a long way when choosing a business name.
6. Failing to check if your chosen business names belong to another business
Before settling on a final name, you’ll need to ensure that you won’t be violating someone else’s trademark rights to a particular business name. You want to avoid being forced to change your business name in the future and possibly paying money damages.
Here are some ways to avoid using a name that’s identical or confusingly similar to the one you want to use:
For a fee of at least a few hundred dollars, you can also hire a professional search firm to do a trademark search. Just the peace of mind alone that nothing has been overlooked can make this investment worth your while.
As far as naming your business, there are professional naming firms that will come up with a great name for your business, but costs can be prohibitive. David Burd, President of The Naming Company, quoted “$15,000 to $20,000” as a typical fee to have a professional team come up with a business name. For large corporations, Burd said, fees could easily go to “$50,000 to $60,000.”
Coming up with a business name isn’t particularly easy, but if you avoid these common mistakes — and invest some time and thoughtful effort — a great business name should be well within your grasp.
Copyright 2013 Attard Communications, Inc
How to Conduct Market Research the Right Way |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
Starting a new business? Before you open your doors, you need to know who your customers are, what they want to buy, and what part of town they like to shop in. Use this advice to be sure you conduct good market research in advance.
It takes a lot of money to start a small business and a huge investment of time and even more money to maintain it. Making decisions not grounded in data is a potentially catastrophic mistake but too many small-business owners do it.
Near the top of the list are market decisions. How did you decide what stocks your shelves? How did you decide the type of customer you wanted to target? How did you pick the location of your business? These are only a few of the market decisions you have to make as a business owner. These are the decisions that have a large impact on the future success of your business and your revenue.
What is Market Research?
You’ve likely heard the term before but the definition is often incomplete. What we think of as market research is the time you spend before starting your business where you analyze past market trends to decide if your product or service has enough demand to make it worth your while.
That’s certainly true and it’s an important first step but market research should never stop. Before making a big business decision, you should conduct market research. Let’s say that you found a new location with more favorable lease terms. Should you move based on price alone? How likely are your current customers to follow you?
Market research also looks into the future. When Apple invested into the development of the iPad, it already knew that consumers wanted a smaller, lighter computing device. It knew that if it could make the iPhone larger, consumers would purchase the product. This was all thanks to the company’s market research.
Market research should look to the past, present and future to study consumer trends. Here’s how.
Look at the Economy
Maybe you’re not an economist but with a little research, you can learn to read and understand reports outlining economic indicators, income and earnings data, and employment statistics. If the economy is weakening, the demand for high-end products and services may lessen. If average income remains low, consumers will demand high value at lower prices.
Invest in Industry Publications
Regardless of the type of business you own, there are trade groups that compile industry statistics that are important to your business. If you’re not a member of your industry’s trade group, join
Some of those reports are expensive but it’s far more expensive to invest in an idea that fails. Also, look for research firms that follow publically traded companies related to yours. If you own a sporting goods store, look for Wall Street analysts that follow companies like Dicks, Nike, Lululemon
Finally, do a good old fashioned Google search. Check industry blogs, trade magazines
If you are a typical local business without any sales taking place internationally, you still have a use for market research outside the borders of the United States. An electrician probably isn’t traveling overseas to work but the price of copper on international markets could affect the price of wire. A farmer knows that international demand for grains affect domestic prices, and a Realtor knows that global real estate markets may drive more foreign buyers to American soil.
Pound the Pavement
Finally, ask the public. Conduct an online survey, ask your customers for their opinion when they purchase from you, call past customers, ask a question on social media or hire a firm to conduct the research for you. If you’re looking for direct feedback on a new product you’re planning to develop or a new service you want to add, the best way is through direct, personal research. It’s tedious but it will yield results.
If you’re making decisions, your thesis should be largely based on objective data. Your gut instincts may carry a little bit of weight but companies that conduct complete market research quickly learn whether an idea is worth the investment of time and capital.
© 2013 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.
7 Ways to Start a Business Without Going Broke |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
Is finding the money to support yourself during the early stages of your business holding you back? There’s no doubt that some sacrifices will be necessary, but if you’re trying to support a family, your choices are limited. Here are seven strategies you can employ to reduce the financial strain of your startup.
A 40’s something woman was talking to me the other day about her growing sense of frustration over “working for someone else” and her longing to “do my own thing, drive my own wagon”. But, she said with consternation, “I have family counting on me and a standard of living I don’t want to sacrifice.”
Everyone has to decide for themselves what level of sacrifice and risk they’re willing to undertake in order to enjoy the satisfactions of working independently. Knowing some strategies for managing the risk will allow you to make a well-informed decision.
Of the seven strategies included below, the first two suggest ways to gradually transition from salaried to solo, instead of diving off the edge. The second two are ways to stretch the dollar; and the final three are ideas for getting started without stopping.
1. Continue to draw a (reduced) salary.
Leaving your current employment in order to develop your new business may look like the only option, based on an assumption that you won’t get approval for reducing your hours. While this may prove to be the case, asking yourself why and how your company will profit from retaining your skills and experience for a transitional period can provide the basis for approaching your employer. Be sure to do your homework first, however, and be able to back up your request with a solid rationale.
Also consider the issue of timing. You want to weigh informing your employer of your wish to leave with being prepared to leave if the answer to your request is no.
2. Develop another income stream.
If you need to leave your present employment, is there a skill in your toolbag that you can resuscitate and put to work without a significant expenditure of time or energy? Is moonlighting or freelance work an option? Virtual e-lancing websites (such as Guru.com and Upwork.com) may be worth looking into for short-term professional services opportunities.
Examples: A community mental health worker transitioning to private practice used his conflict resolution experience to sell a training package to public schools. A woman transitioning out of an insurance brokerage created and sold seminars on long term care financing at local retirement centers.
3. Reduce expenses.
Apart from fixed expenses – mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc. – are discretionary expenses that make up the larger part of budgets. Doing a careful analysis of these expenses and choosing what you can forego for awhile can often save thousands per year.
Carefully analyzing hidden expenses – credit card interest rates, bank charges, late fees, auto debits, phone plans – or “lost money” from low interest rates on savings may generate several thousand more per year.
It isn’t necessary to wait to borrow for start-up costs until you have a well-documented idea to submit for a business loan. Refinancing a home or taking a line of credit are relatively low-cost ways of generating capital. Depending on your credit rating, you can also get time-limited low-interest loans from credit card companies.
If you choose this option, applying for loans or refinancing packages while you’re still employed is strongly advised. Your rating as a borrower declines quickly once the regular paychecks stop.
You don’t have to wait!
Get started on your new business idea while you’re still employed. Several of the all-important first steps (below) can be started while standing in the grocery line or running on the treadmill. They involve asking yourself some questions and doing some informal research to get crystal clear about your idea. This can take weeks off your actual start-up time.
5. Identify your niche.
Think about the services you’re uniquely qualified to provide, as well as the ones you most enjoy providing. Be specific! Write them down! Then think about what group of people would get benefit from those services and have the ability to pay for them. Again, be specific: age, where they congregate, habits and values, how they define the problem your services are going to solve. If you don’t know, ask. Find someone who fits your “ideal client” profile (s/he may be on the treadmill next to yours at the gym) and get permission to ask some questions. People generally love to be helpful.
6. Create your marketing plan.
Don’t be intimidated by the term “marketing plan”. While what you need from a marketing plan will get more sophisticated as your business develops, for now it simply means answering the question, How is my business going to make money? What is the product or service you’re going to sell? How will you describe it so people quickly recognize the value? How will you package it? (fee for service? by the project? on retainer?) How will you price it? (What’s being charged for comparable services? What “feels right” to you?)
RELATED: Free Marketing Plan Worksheet
7. Manage fear!
For most people, anything involving money involves some level of fear. It’s important to acknowledge to yourself and to others that you are taking a risk, and you’ve decided it’s a risk you want to take. So consider the fear natural, and find ways to manage it.
Getting support from people who believe in you and in what you’re embarking on is #1 in fear-management tactics. Don’t assume that you’ll get it from the people closest to you, or that if you don’t have it you shouldn’t proceed. They’re probably the ones most impacted by your decision and so may be least ready to offer support. Their consent – a willingness to go along with your plan – is helpful, but support may have to come later.
It’s also helpful to set a goal (and a date for completion) that’s key to your new venture – arrange financing by a particular date, or sign a lease – and announce it to at least one person. You’ll find that making that commitment, saying it out loud, and following through will in turn generate more confidence and more forward momentum.
To all of you who are tired of marching to someone else’s drum and are eager to go solo, these strategies should help you take prudent but positive steps toward realizing your goal.
Nina Ham, certified coach and licensed psychotherapist, is principal of Success from the Inside Out, providing individual coaching and teleseminars to build the skills, attitudes and habits for sustainable success in your career or business.
How to Land Your First Client |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
It’s not surprising that consulting is attractive to many people who want to launch a business. After all, if you have a saleable skill, it’s an easy business to enter. But just how do you break into the consulting field and get those all-important first clients?
Consulting is a big–and growing–business.
The market for consulting services is estimated to be between $130B and $150B annually, and professional consultants are among the highest paid workers, earning more than many doctors, lawyers and other professionals.
It’s not surprising that consulting is attractive to many people who want to launch a business. After all, if you have a saleable skill, it’s an easy business to enter. No one will stop you from calling yourself a consultant and startup can cost as little as printing business cards and getting a business license.
On the flip side of the coin, consulting is fiercely competitive. Just ten firms own almost 40% of the consulting market share in North America alone, and they fight for every opportunity to grow.
Today, clients have instant access to legions of experts at the click of a mouse, and they have found low-cost, offshore alternatives for many consulting projects.
The beauty of this market, though, is that many of the large, lumbering consulting firms focus on thin slices of the market. That creates an opportunity for smaller firms and individual consultants who know how to use guerrilla methods to snag their share of profitable business.
So how do you break into consulting?
Think about Your Fourth Client First
As a new consultant, you should be able to generate a project–or maybe several–through your networks of friends, past employers, and colleagues. After all, research shows that clients use their networks to select consultants more than any other method, and they, no doubt, know someone who knows you.
Unfortunately, your address book alone won’t sustain your consulting business long term. If your goal is to build a sustainable consulting practice, the real question isn’t how to get your first client, but how to create a business that will attract the second, third, and fourth clients to your practice.
Before you ask your contacts–or anyone else–to hire you as a consultant for that first project, ensure your success by taking a longer view of your business. Work hard to land that first client, but also put the marketing and consulting fundamentals in place that will secure your future as a consultant.
Start with these four simple tips:
Have Something to Say…
Prospective clients rarely look for consultants until they have a pressing need. In other words, “we just can’t do it ourselves; let’s get outside help fast.” A recent client admitted that his team had been spinning its wheels trying to resolve a complex transportation problem for three years before they hired consultants and gave them four weeks to come up with a solution. They did.
The point is that, when most clients are in the market for help, they want it yesterday. And they want the best consultants they can find, at an affordable price. So, take the time to define what makes you the best consultant a client can find.
Many consultants mistakenly believe that by defining their expertise broadly, they’ll appeal to a wider audience and land more clients. The less specific you are, the less likely it is clients will think of you when they need help.
Why would clients turn to you for their most important projects? Be prepared to answer these questions during your first conversation with them:
If you can’t articulate the answers in a minute or less, keep working. You may only have that one minute to make a first impression on a client, so make it count.
And Someone to Say It to
The market has no shortage of prospective clients, but truly profitable projects can be few and far between. If you want to work for the most profitable clients, you’ll have to compete for and grab their attention. And for that you must have a plan. A real one.
Many veteran consultants haven’t looked at their marketing plans since they were first created. As a result, they drift from project to project, getting by on meager profit margins. Guerrilla consultants, however, leave the low-profit projects for others and focus on attracting and keeping the clients that give them the opportunity for financial and professional growth.
Guerrillas begin that process by creating a one-page marketing plan that lays out how to get and hold onto profitable clients.
Forget the reams of fancy charts, detailed analyses and bullet-proof competitive intelligence. You can draft your first marketing plan in seven sentences:
As you create your marketing plan, remember this: you are building a platform from which to consistently communicate your ideas to prospective clients. That’s the fastest way to launch a new practice because prospective clients equate the success of a firm with consistent visibility.
So create a marketing plan that maximizes your visibility in the market. Over time, keep your business networks healthy with constant attention; establish a credible Web presence; speak for industry and trade groups; participate in studies and surveys; publish articles; and make contributions to your targeted industry association and local business community.
And, most importantly, once you begin your marketing program, never stop. You’ll reap the benefits for the long haul if you stick to your marketing guns.
When a Client Asks What Time It Is, Don’t Take His Watch
Perhaps the most serious challenge facing consultants is client skepticism. In a study by business analysis firm Ross McManus, only 35% of clients are satisfied with their consultants.
Part of the problem is that many consultants are deep subject-matter experts, but less familiar with the consulting process. Before you get too far into the business, get a firm grasp of the fundamentals of consulting, including how to:
Do those five things well and you’ll have more client work than you can handle.
If you’re new to the business, interview consultants on how they handle these aspects of the business; read books, articles and reports by leading thinkers in the field; and consider joining one of the many professional associations for consultants. You can save years of learning things the hard way.
The End is the Beginning
Your clearest path to a new client is your network of former employers and others who can make introductions to get that first project kicked off. Keep in mind, though, that consulting begins and ends with results.
To succeed, you must offer and deliver undisputed value to your clients and everyone else in your network. Value is also the foundation on which you must build your marketing. Your network of colleagues won’t support you, or your business, if your value is questioned anywhere along the way.
So, before you launch your practice, give these ideas some thought. They’ll help put you on the road to long-term success.
Michael W. McLaughlin is the coauthor, with Jay Conrad Levinson, of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants. Michael is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and the publisher of Management Consulting News and The Guerrilla Consultant.
How to Use Amazon as Your Consignment Shop |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
Everyone knows about eBay, but don’t overlook Amazon. Amazon has several programs for sellers, including one where Amazon handles the entire transaction from purchase all the way to shipping. Here’s what you need to know about selling on Amazon.
Amazon has come a long way since its pioneering inception as an online bookstore. Over the years it has grown into a full-fledged department store, selling everything from electronics to grocery items. And they’ll even sell your stuff too.
More than just books even.
Of course, if you sell books, you can sell them on Amazon in a number of ways:
But there’s so much more you can do through Amazon as a seller of products, those you acquire through normal business means and those you make yourself. Amazon will serve as your consignment shop.
What Is Amazon Fulfillment?
Amazon has a service called Fulfillment by Amazon. As the name implies, Amazon will sell, package, and ship your items to your customers for you, essentially serving as your business’s warehouse. It works like this:
This is a great opportunity for small businesses that might have small staffs but high quality products to sell. Amazon will handle all of the customer service for your items. You set the prices for your items and Amazon keeps track of the sales and revenue data for you.
RELATED: Amazon and Nexus
What Can You Sell on Amazon?
Amazon has few restrictions about what you can and cannot sell through their website. The few rules they do have are reasonable.
For instance, you can’t sell hazardous materials.
You also can’t sell prescription drugs, items that are deemed illegal under state or federal law, alcohol (unless you are a pre-approved wine seller), tobacco products, guns and ammunition, and other products that may be dangerous or harmful. Amazon has a complete list of prohibited items on its website.
There are other items you can sell on consignment with Amazon that may require prior approval. These include:
You can see a full list of products requiring prior approval on Amazon’s website, as well. Otherwise, Amazon is pretty open about what you can sell:
If in doubt, check Amazon’s seller guidelines or contact Amazon to get your specific questions answered.
How Much Does It Cost To Sell on Amazon?
Amazon charges depend on the item you are selling. In general, Amazon charges a storage fee, an order handling fee, packaging, weight handling, and special handling for large items. These prices vary according to the type of item you are listing, the list price of the item, time of year, and whether or not you’re using Amazon as your sole fulfillment channel or you are engaged in multi-channel fulfillment. Many of those charges, however, can be passed on to your customer, so you have to think through the sales process carefully.
One cool feature of Amazon’s Filfillment service is the revenue calculator. You can determine your expected revenue by entering your price and shipping charges into the calculator and having Amazon estimate your costs for the item while determining your total profit based on those numbers.
The 5 Keys to Successful Selling on Amazon
Using Amazon as your consignment shop requires some organization skills and a solid business plan. You can’t just wing it. Here are the 5 keys to successful consignments using Amazon as your storefront:
Think of Amazon as the worldwide version of your local consignment shop. It’s the Internet’s megastore. Don’t just list your products and forget about them. Actively market and promote them and you will sell more.
© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc