7 COMMON HANDMADE BUSINESS MISTAKES TO AVOID
7 COMMON HANDMADE BUSINESS MISTAKES TO AVOID
A few years ago, I had the idea of selling my own creations and opening an online store. I have been passionate about sewing since my childhood, so I wanted to start a business to sell my handmade products.
Today, there are easy solutions to quickly open your online store. After some research, I quickly embarked on the adventure. In the beginning, starting my own business was a very exciting and challenging experience. I got into it with passion, but without any experience in entrepreneurship.
The initial enthusiasm gradually evaporated once encountering various difficulties and disappointing results. Without prior experience, I made a lot of rookie mistakes.
By reading this article, you will learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls in creating a craft business. By learning from my mistakes, you will become more efficient and will build a successful creative business faster.
Here are the seven most common mistakes to avoid when creating your online store. Don’t waste valuable time and learn how to sell your creations today!
Table of Contents
1 | I SELL WHAT I LIKE
Being passionate and having fun creating your own products is a good thing, but it’s not enough. Selling online requires a good understanding of your market and target customers.
A good business idea does not start from what you personally like, but from a need of your target customers. You are NOT your future customer.
I started by selling Barbie dresses. After creating a few models that I quickly put online, I had the unpleasant surprise to discover that a competing store also sold beautiful dresses but at much lower prices. I had misjudged the state of competition in my product category.
Then, as I was already making pacifier clips for my daughters, I decided to put them on sale on my online store. Sales were rare, simply because people were buying more personalized pacifier clips with beads than the type of clips I was offering.
By starting only with product ideas that I liked and without carefully studying my market, I started selling products that did not have strong sales potential. To hope to sell well, you must therefore be interested in products for which there is demand and on which you will be able to position yourself in relation to the competition.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and don’t start from scratch in your business creation! Take inspiration from what already works for your competitors and create similar products while adding your personal touch. For example, I noticed that hair scrunchies are becoming trendy again at the moment. So this is the type of product that I decided to add to my store while thinking about models with an aesthetic that matches my brand and will set me apart from my competitors.
2 | A VAGUE BRAND IDENTITY
The visual identity of a brand… a little-known concept at the start of my business creation! And yet very important.
Brand identity refers to a set of elements that allow a person to easily and quickly identify a brand. This concerns the brand’s logo, its graphic charter, its values, its positioning in its market, but also its personality and the tone it uses in its communications.
Even if you can start selling on your online store without having completely defined your brand identity, it is still necessary to have worked on it at the minimum from the start.
Take the time to think about the brand you want to create. What colors, what logo, what tone… do you want to associate with your brand? Gather on an A4 sheet all the ideas of elements that define your brand and keep this sheet on hand so that any document you create (product listings, publications on social networks, etc.) respects the brand identity you will have defined.
3 | MY PRICES ARE TOO LOW
I no longer count the number of testimonials from young entrepreneurs who admit to having underestimated their prices at the start. This error is a *classic*!
To attract customers and sell more, the temptation to stand out with lower prices is great. But this strategy is not necessarily the right one. Explanation: I am at a restaurant and I am offered the wine list. I have the choice between three types of bottles with the lowest price, the average price and the highest price. Psychologically, it has been shown that the majority of people will choose the average price. Why? The lowest price will be associated with the idea of lower quality. The highest price will be a barrier to purchasing. The average price will therefore be the preferred solution because it is perceived as a good value for money.
Pricing too low can devalue your products and give the impression of a lack of quality. Furthermore, in the long term, your craft business could be unsustainable if you do not take into account all the expenses involved in running your business.
Estimating its prices is not done just by comparing ourselves to the competition which may have production methods different from ours. This requires a calculation method that takes into account all real costs (materials, overhead expenses and working hours) and the minimum profits that we plan to make.
Optimization of product listings for good SEO on search engines. Another very vague notion *actually unknown* when I started!
To work efficiently and not waste too much time writing the titles and alt texts of the photos in my product listings, I created a document with a few templates already written. I was then just making a few small changes for each new product. I didn’t have a strategy in place for SEO and was going the wrong way for a long time.
Brrr!! Not good!!
Optimizing a product listing must be done methodically. This includes researching precise data (search volume and difficulty score) to select the right keywords. Those that will bring you traffic to your product pages.
Optimizing your product listings is not complicated to do, but it requires researching and learning the basics of SEO before getting started.
It’s a good thing to be proactive and not over-procrastinate, but taking the time to learn how to work well before you start is highly recommended. This avoids having to go back and modify incorrect product listings later. And therefore end up wasting precious time!
Learning to write complete and optimized product listings to be well ranked by search engines, and therefore found by your future customers, is essential.
5 | TAKE YOURSELF FOR BEING SUPERMAN OR WONDER WOMAN
When you start creating a business, you are often all fired up! We want to do everything we can to ensure our project moves forward. But we don’t master everything…
Posting on social networks seems simple, but the first obstacle will be, for example, choosing which hashtags to include. This is research work to be done in advance and which will slow you down if you have not thought about selecting hashtags and you do not have a strategy already in place.
Taking professional-looking product photographs isn’t something you’re born with either. It takes effort and thought… which takes time.
To be effective and to avoid going off in all directions (entrepreneurship requires accomplishing a multitude of tasks), it is important to plan your actions without forgetting to take into account that these new tasks will take time at the beginning.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
If you plan too many tasks, you won’t be able to complete everything, and this can be very discouraging. We must therefore remain reasonable and plan less than too much.
6 | FORGETTING THAT THE PRIORITY IS TO SELL
Many young artisans are passionate about their activity, but not about selling. Business tasks are not always synonymous with fun times. And yet, an activity without sales is not entrepreneurship, but a hobby!
For a long time, I spent way *too* much time creating and perfecting my products and my product listings instead of dedicating time to finding new customers (by contacting points of sale, organizing giveaways, participating in craft fairs or by publishing consistently on social networks or Pinterest for example).
Spending too much time on details or tasks that don’t allow you to sell is time wasted or poorly invested. You must therefore include regular tasks in your action plan to find clients. Even if it’s not your favorite part!
7 | WORKING ALONE
I worked alone for a long time on my business creation project. Until the day someone told me about “business incubators”. But what is it, then?
I was assisted for several months by the BGE PaRIF (there are other BGEs in different regions of France). And that’s the best thing that happened to me in my business creation project! The BGE is a support network for business creation.
After applying, I was able to attend various training courses on entrepreneurship (in sales, marketing, business management or even for the choice of legal and tax status). In addition to training, an advisor helps each entrepreneur with regular meetings during which an action plan is developed and the entrepreneur benefits from sound advice from his advisor to help him progress. Just pure happiness!
After a more than positive experience within BGE PaRIF, I strongly advise you to seek support at the start of your project. Accept outside help because it’s completely normal that you don’t know everything. The outside perspective of people who have experience in entrepreneurship can only benefit you and will move your project forward in the right direction.
Remember the essential!
By working alone on my project and starting without prior knowledge, I made a lot of mistakes. But as the expression goes: “it’s by making mistakes that you learn”.
You should not be afraid of making a mistake because it is unavoidable, but I hope that my sharing of experience will allow you to avoid some pitfalls and save you valuable time.
Learn to identify your mistakes in order to develop your skills. Becoming an entrepreneur means having to take care of very diverse tasks. By implementing new actions, you will make mistakes which will allow you to improve and help your project grow.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison
Success takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight. To progress, you have to take a step back from the actions you have carried out and analyze them. This is how you will identify areas for improvement and for which you may need external help and feedback from other entrepreneurs.
Good luck with building your own business!
WORK HARD, DREAM BIG, NEVER GIVE UP!