Whether you’re a hard-working stay at home mom, or a have a busy career (or perhaps you’re juggling the two), more and more women are venturing out into new business territory in the pursuit of a happier work life balance. If you’re spending most of your weekly work time dreaming about the free time you’ll have to pursue your creative outlets; then maybe it’s time to rethink how you can make an income from them. You don’t need to drop everything and run off into the sunset, tools in hand; however, you can take steps towards potentially changing your and your family’s life for the better.
Investigating The Market
If you have a hobby or talent that you regularly enjoy doing, then you’re already lucky; those able to pursue a creative or physical pastime are often less stressed, and happier people. However, before embarking on the transition from hobby to artisan business; you need to scope out whether there’d be a market for it. Maybe your kids enthuse endlessly about the wooden dolls you make out in the garage every Saturday, but try to think and investigate if they would appeal to wider audience. If your talents lie in fixing up vintage bicycles and cars, or you’re able to create lifelike statues from a piece of clay, then it’s likely that there’ll be a customer base waiting to pay for your services and buy your creations.
As previously mentioned; if you have a passion or hobby that you love, you’re probably already spending your Saturdays doing it. However, for you to push your talent into a business, you’ll need to increase the amount of time you spend on it. By using any opportunity in the evenings, weekends, and holiday time, will not only allow you to hone your skills; but you’ll be able to get a sense of how long production would take you, and if you feel there’s a feasible business in what you’re creating. You might also realize that you’d rather keep it as a hobby, as you don’t want the added pressure, or you’d prefer it as a “side” income, but until you try, you’ll never know, so it’s a smart idea to find out.
Once you’ve decided that your talent and passion for your hobby is going to make a successful business venture, you’ll need to think about the space in which you do it. Unless you’re lucky enough to own a large plot of land, with plenty of out-buildings, you’re likely to need to lease somewhere to start off with. Separating yourself from the family home when you go to make your homewares or renovate vintage vehicles, will allow you to switch from treating it as a pastime to it being an official, money-making business. Having your workshop or unit, will also give you the clarity to focus on the job, and not have to worry if chores, or other tasks, have been completed at home. Your space should be somewhere you look forward to visiting each day too; check out some small business spaces here.
When you’ve found a suitable space to start fixing, crafting and making what you love; you’ll need to invest in tools and equipment that will last for the foreseeable future. It’s important to start your business as you mean to go on, well equipped and professional; doing this will ensure customers see it as a business and it will help to build trust between you and your patrons. You should research into the quality and reliability of specific tools and machinery to avoid any costly mistakes. So if you are planning to work with metal, you can look into powder coating equipment here, or if pottery and ceramics where your skills lie, it’s worth checking out information on choosing the correct kiln here. (By the way, here’s another great guide to buying kilns for beginners that we also found helpful.)
After you’ve set up your work environment, and you’re fully equipped with any materials, tools, and machinery, it’s time to get going! Record whatever you’re making and get it out there and seen by potential consumers. Locally, you could host an open day, where people get to meet you, hear your story and see what your processes entail; this will encourage these people to become customers, as knowing the story behind what you’re buying is an appealing element to shopping for anyone. Social media can be of great use; especially if you don’t have the budget yet to employ a professional marketing company to help. Again, it’s about recording and posting everything that you’re already doing, so that people are seeing you and will buy into your brand or service. The joy of running your own business will be that you’re able to choose when you go out and promote yourself and how you go about marketing your products. For more inspiration on marketing a small business, take a look here: https://writtent.com/blog/25-creative-marketing-ideas-for-small-businesses-and-entrepreneurs/.
Continue to work as much as you’re physically able to at the start of your business. The beginning is the time where you’re learning how and when you work best, and more importantly what customers do and don’t want from you. Having a continuous supply of stock and being consistent with your service, will both help to build trust with consumers, and they’ll return to your business because they know what to expect and appreciate it. See how consistency touches every area of your business here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-consistency-touches-every-area-of-your-business/. Patrons will become ambassadors of what you do or create, so you won’t end up needing that marketing company after all.
It might be difficult at the beginning (or always) to be juggling your home life with your new venture, so it’s important that everyone in the family is on board, and supportive. Bring the family to the workshop for a while each weekend, and get them to help with tasks (even if it’s to go and get coffee and bagels); if they feel a part of the business, they’ll be less likely to resent your consistent commitment to it. When everybody’s on board and your business is set up, it’s time to work hard and most of all, try to enjoy it; they’ll be aspects you don’t like, but remember you get to do what you love each day, which is more than a lot of people can say.