Market Your Passion – Part 1

Booths at Markets Are effective

Would you like to increase your sales?

Where and when do you sell your products?  Who buys them?  Do you have repeat buyers, or are most of your sales a one-time-buy?  Do you have a mailing list?  What type of customers sign-up for mailings?  These are important questions to ask … and answer!  They tell you a lot about your current business and future potential.  If your craft is just your hobby and you enjoy going to artisan markets to “peddle your wares” just for fun, then this article may not mean much to you.  But if you find that your craft is your passion and you would like to pour yourself into it 100%, then read on.  In reality, you are embarking on a journey to creating your own small business.

It's often said that more than half of new businesses fail during the first year.   According to the Small Business Association (SBA), this isn't necessarily true. The SBA states that only 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. The SBA goes on to state that only 25% make it to 15 years or more. However, not all of these businesses need to fail. –  Top 6 Reasons New Businesses Fail

How do you avoid becoming a statistic?  You’ve already started your venture.   You have talked to others in the marketplaces and taken their advice.  Some things are working, but maybe not consistently?  Some weekends your booth is full and you have strong sales.  Other weekends are a disappointment, maybe you even lost money.  It seemed like everyone was stopping in the booths all around you, but you sat quietly in your booth.  After all, you’re an artisan, a craftsman…not a salesman. Your products sell themselves!  Maybe true, but only to the right buyer.


Reasons New Business Fail

Or fail to reach its potential

It took you a long time to develop your skills and create a truly unique line of products.  You don’t want to just fail in the early years before you have a chance to succeed.  But you’ve already started your business and it is not doing as well as you would like.  Is it too late!?  Are you doomed to fail!?  Of course not!  You can do this!  You just need to put the right things in motion and avoid the common pitfalls.  Let’s take a look as some of the reasons that businesses fail:

  • Not investigating the market for your products – this may not be a concern for you, because you have proven that people like your products. They appreciate the craftsmanship, creativity, design, taste or whatever makes you unique.  You just have a feeling in your gut that there is a demand for handmade craft.
  • Problems with your business plan – earlier in this article we asked some questions about your products and the people that buy them. Understanding these things is essential to creating a successful business plan. If you don’t have a business plan, it’s not too late to create one.  It doesn’t need to be complicated, but putting it down on paper is a great start.  It is important for creating realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your business.  It is your blueprint for problem solving and growth.
  • Financing your business is important – we have all heard that “it takes money to make money.” To some extent this is true.  After all, you had to buy supplies and raw materials for your craft.  You need to spend money on the booth space at the artisan marketplace.  You had to buy booth equipment, signage, and business cards.  If you are funding your business with sales from each event, that is not necessarily wrong, but make sure that you set realistic expectations.  I remember seeing an advertisement that said, “Your first advertisement shouldn’t be for your ‘Going Out of Business’ sale.”
  • Bad location – whether it is a booth location at a marketplace (you know the good spots and the bad ones by now) or Internet presence if you sell and advertise online. There is much more to it than just creating a website and hoping that people will find it.  ‘Hope’ is not a strategy.
  • Rigidity & Expanding Too Fast – let’s face it, you’re not intimidated by these problems. You have lots of creative ideas and you can make a variety of products to suit customer needs.  As for expanding too fast, let’s keep that in mind, but it’s a problem you would love to have.  Your biggest challenge there will be over-commitment or training a new hire to take on some of the work so you can produce more quality products.

In order to market, and ultimately sell, your products you need to ‘put the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.’  Okay, so now you just had a mental flashback to the scene in Back to the Future, when Doc Brown explains all of the things that need to happen at the right moment for success. It’s not that complicated, but it does take planning!

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