renegade-craft-fair

Tips for having a profitable craft fair

Seek to benefit from a variety of sources the sale had to be done for every Shen not least in the craft business.

Planning to start a craft business or want to grow an existing one? Join our Craft Business group for practical help and a free book on marketing.

Many craft business make most of their money from craft markets and fairs but an increasingly fickle public and the wider availability of craft goods in mainline retailers means that crafters need to work harder and stand out from the crowd to be successful. Here are some top tips for having a profitable craft fair.

Pick a local one

For your first fair, you should go local. This is partly so that you can visit it before you book a table but also because you don’t want to have to travel too far for your first fair.

Display like a pro

Create a colourful display that shows off your products to their best. Cover the table with a colourful cloth and slide box files underneath to create height at the back – this looks much, much better than a flat display. Now, fill up the space so that it’s brimming with product. For your first few craft fairs, it’s worth practising this at home.

Turn up early!

Do not be in a rush, especially the first time. Whenever you do anything unfamiliar, it takes extra time and you want your display to be as attractive as those of the old hands either side of you.

Take a partner

Don’t do this alone! If you do, you’ll end up tied to the table for the whole day. Also bear in mind that you can only serve one customer at a time, so when it gets busy you might be losing business. Your partner in crime needn’t be a crafter themselves, they just need to be someone who can count out change and who you can trust to look after the stall while you run off to the loo.

Have plenty of change!

You don’t want to have to turn buyers away because you can’t change their money! In a perfect world, you’d have a portable card reader so you could take plastic or Paypal’s Virtual Terminal but that’s not realistic for your first craft fair. So, take plenty of change – you can always pay it back into the bank after the fair’s over.

Think about your table layout

If you only have one table, or they’re laid out for you by the organisers then ignore this. If you’re using multiple tables, however, you will need to think about how you organise them.

Generally speaking an “n” shape is ideal. In other words, the customers walk “into” an area bounded by three sides. You sit or stand behind the one at the top of the “n”. This way, customers can look at all your products without feeling they’re too close to you (people don’t like to feel they’re being watched!) and they follow a natural flow around each of the three sides.

You could also try a “u” shape with one or more tables along the walkway. This way, customers walk around the outside and you stand inside the u. The advantage of this shape is that there’s more room for customers to move, and you’re easily able to serve anyone. Bear in mind, however, that if you’re outside under a gazebo, your customers might get wet if it rains – if the weather looks at all iffy, you should use the n shape.

Essential supplies

A few other things you mustn’t forget (in addition to your stock, table cloth and box files for height)

  • Something to sit on
  • Something to pack purchases in
  • Something to record purchases on as they’re made (a clipboard with a hand drawn table on lined paper would do)
  • A receipt book – some customers will want one
  • Bum bag for your cash
  • A stack of business cards or leaflets advertising where people can buy more of your stuff – this is especially important as Christmas approaches
  • If you’re outside, tarpaulins to cover everything in case of rain
  • Water
  • Food – especially chocolate!!
  • A flask of tea or coffee
  • A smile.

Selling Skills

You don’t need any! Contrary to popular belief (and the belief of retailers and car dealers everywhere) selling is about making a human connection and listening.

If you are friendly and prepared to chat with people, then the worst that can happen is you’ll have an enjoyable day being sociable (and that, in itself, can make a nice change!). What you’ll find, however, is that by not trying to sell, you will actually sell.

What if someone tries to haggle? Well, this is where the fact that you have a very good grasp on your true product cost and the margin comes in. If you follow the Total Product Cost +75% approach, you know that if you give the customer, say, a 10% discount you’re actually reducing your profit by more than 20%. So, just bear that in mind when you’re negotiating and remember to have confidence in your product. If you’ve spent £10 making an item that’s on sale for £17.50 and your customer wants a discount that reduces your £7.50 profit down to £5 does that feel fair or not? You may decide it does but, personally, I wouldn’t have it. If the customer wants your item, they should pay the ticket price unless there’s a very good reason otherwise. Your products are worth it!!!

 

More top tips for craft-fairs

Elaine Stavert from Littlecote Soap Co, has a lot of experience at craft-fairs – here are her top tips

Get a sign!

At a craft show, one of the biggest mistake that people make is not having a sign to say what they are selling. It might be abundantly clear to you that your candles made in tea cups are indeed candles, but make sure that people can instantly identify what you sell. People have just a few seconds to view your stall and make up their mind whether to approach you or not. Let people know what your USP is (unique selling point – the thing that makes you different from all the rest). Tell the customer clearly exactly what you do and why you are great at it. Have a picture of yourself at the potting wheel, or making your jewellery, as pictures speak louder than words.

Presentation is vital

Cover your table with appropriate fabric for your product, make sure that it is not too patterned, let the product stand out. DZD sells grocery grass by the meter, it also sells wonderful fabric that looks like Scandinavian wood – I made our ““wood” fabric to fit our craft table and many people actually think it is real wood. Alternatively use hessian which is cheap and rustic looking. Use old crates, leather suitcases, old hatboxes etc. to display your products.

Height is important. Make sure that your products are eye level, the less the customer has to work to view your products, the easier it will sell.

Price Tags

Clearly display the prices. People will rarely ask how much a product is if it doesn’t have a price and will walk on by, so make sure that every single item is clearly marked.

Offers

Do a show offer. People love a bargain and you want them to buy your product NOW at the show before they go home and forget about you. Tell people that the offer is only available today. People will often part with £5 or £10 quite easily at a show.

You’re not selling cars

“Sell” your products, but don’t be too pushy. A hard sell will often put off a customer, some don’t even like being talked to at all as they think you are going to give them a hard sell. Smile at each customer and say “hello” or “good morning”. If their feet turn inwards towards your stand this means that they are interested, so you can then say to them “have you seen us before” or “did you know that our products are local” etc.

Be happy!

If you are having a bad or slow sale and people are not purchasing, refrain from sitting on your chair looking glum as it is very unlikely that you will sell anything. It might alert customers to the fact that you are having a bad show and they may wonder why your product is not selling. Try and remain cheerful and remember that it is not just what you sell at a show, use it as an advertising opportunity to direct more people to your website or blog. Use the opportunity to give away as many leaflets or business cards as you can.

Promote yourself

Leaflets are cheap to produce with Vistaprint or other online printing companies. This can make a nice addition to the sale of your product if there are details and pictures of how and where your product is made. Make sure that your contact details or website are on all literature, business cards, and on your product so that people can easily re-purchase.

Be nice

Be nice to the other stall holders and the organisers. Try not to get too uptight about people invading your space or getting in your way. If you are easy to work with, other crafters, and the organisers, will recommend your products to others, and you are more than likely to be asked back again next time to the show and to other shows.

Source: http://www.yourcraftbusiness.co.uk/

email-marketing-tips

Simple email marketing tips for small business

In the era of highly developed today, emails certainly can not be abandoned. And this is one of the tools to communicate quickly with customers.

The death of email as a marketing channel has been predicted on numerous occasions over the years, yet despite technical developments that have occurred in that time, it remains as resilient as ever.

For the small business owner, email can be your first and best communications channel. Why? Because it’s an easy and cheap way to make a start. Here are four key tips to help you kick off your email marketing in the right way:

Personal account or an email marketing provider?

There’s nothing wrong with sending emails from a personal account if you’re offering a highly-tailored or personal message, but for sending to a group of customers or a database full of prospects, you’ll probably need to sign-up with an email marketing platform like MailChimp or dotmailer. Each offers a series of professional-looking templates to which you can add your own message and images. Many software providers even let you send emails to a certain number of subscribers for free each month.

What are you going to say?

Your email is going to be ignored, most likely deleted, if it’s not of any use to the recipient. You’ve got to get the content right – tell them something they might be interested in; something that tempts them to engage with your business. What about linking to your blog that explains why you’re such a great firm and so different from your rivals? Or why not tell them about exclusive offers, new products or services, or publicity you have received? And any other notables, for that matter.

Send regularly, but don’t annoy

There’s no use sending one email then waiting six weeks to send the next. To have any impact you need to send regular emails. You want to get to the point where you’re the first name that springs to mind when your recipient requires services that you supply. That said, it can be tricky to know how many emails is too many. Is three per week excessive? Most people would say ‘yes’, but some would be happy to receive them, it all depends on the content – is it useful to them? To be safe, however, why not try one a week at first and see what kind of engagement comes as a result.

Develop your offering

Once you’ve established a routine and started to monitor how many emails are read and click backs you’re getting, it might be time to improve what’s on offer. What about more regular emails? Split testing content and email titles? Different content for different parts of your audience? Optimising for mobile? How about integrating emails with your social media accounts? Are you able to personalise your emails or encourage greater engagement through changing the placement of links and images?
Source : http://www.fsb.org.uk/

creative-packaging-ideas-340x200

Packaging and shipping Tips For Handmade Crafters

Many handmade crafters can not be released with the delivery process. Especially for those who have a business online.

Many handmade crafters can feel unsure about how to package and send their goods to customers when starting their businesses. There are so many variables that come into play when mailing online orders- from the best way to purchase supplies to address labels to what should be included in the box. Here are my top pointers for shipping without worry!

1. Use Shipping Labels
Printing out shipping labels for your orders will save you time and money, as well as looking very professional. Hand-written addresses do add a personal touch, but keep in mind that you’re taking the chance of someone not being able to read your handwriting (especially for international mail). When you print shipping labels it verifies the address and suggests any changes, increasing the chance your package will get there without disruption. You will also get a tracking number that is sent to your email (and the customer if you have it set up), instead of having to manually enter it from a post office receipt.

2. Buy Supplies in Bulk
After you’ve sent out a few orders you’ll have good idea of what supplies you need for the majority of your packaging. Then you can streamline your shipping and save money by purchasing packaging supplies in large quantities. This will make it much easier to get those online orders out quickly- you won’t have to scramble to go find materials and make sure they work for your products.

Extra tip: Comparison shop online to find the best prices for shipping materials. You can also request a rep from most large wholesale supply companies, and they can often get you price quotes if you’re buying in bulk.

3. Consider the Durability
For me, the main purpose of my packaging is to get the item (or items) to the customer in perfect condition. I use pretty jewelry boxes to send my products (inside bubble mailers), but most-importantly they are very sturdy and will withstand processing machines and handling in the postal system. Your items are traveling great distances, so consider all the possible circumstances. Fragile items should be packed with extra care- and lots of bubble wrap or padding! Also keep in mind how the customer will open the package. If you’re sending something soft like a t-shirt, perhaps you should write a message on the package to open it carefully so the fabric doesn’t get cut.

4. Include a Receipt
Buyers like to get a copy of their order details in the package. This way they can have important information like the order number, return address, and any care instructions easily available without having to login to a site or check their email. It also makes it simple to double check you are sending the right item out to the correct address if you have the receipt printed and ready to go when packing up your orders.
Extra tip: If you want to be more eco-friendly and save printer ink, reduce the size of the page you’re printing and switch to recycled paper.

What other ideas do you have for successfully sending your handmade goods?

Source: http://www.creativeincomeblog.com/

Handmade

4 Tips to Expand Your Handmade Product Lines

Creativity is important in an effort both small and large businesses.

It’s important to always be growing and evolving your handmade business- this includes always creating new items. Not only will this draw in more customers and but it can keep your creativity flowing. Here are a few easy tips for expanding your company’s product lines…

1. Listen to Your Customers

I’ve gotten so many ideas for new products from my customers! They’ve suggested different color combinations, sizes, and shapes that I hadn’t thought of before. Usually they tell me these ideas at craft shows, but sometimes it’s during online sales. Customers have convinced me to make cool things like adjustable flower charm bracelets and giant buffalo ornaments. If a new item seems to get a lot of attention when you make it, consider putting it into your product line.

  1. Think Outside the Box

The key to innovation in your handmade business is identifying a space in the market for a certain product that may or may not already exist. I never imagined I’d make holiday ornaments when I started my jewelry and fashion business, but I saw an opportunity to make a product that appeals to both women and men, increasing my customer base. They’ve turned out to be one of my best sellers!

Extra tip: If you have a great idea for a new product make sure to write it down! Creativity often comes at inopportune times, so this way you can revisit the idea later.

  1. Use Different Materials

Experimenting with other materials keeps things interesting for your crafty business. In addition to making lasercut jewelry I also sew wristlet pouches and fake fur winter accessories. Not only do I love the end product, but creating these products allows me to reach a wider audience than I would just through jewelry. My sewn items still flow with my jewelry themes and color schemes, they just happen to be made from fabric instead of acrylic and wood.

  1. Expand on a Theme

Take a theme or subject you already love and use that as a springboard for your new products. For example, I started off making buffalo shaped acrylic necklaces, but shortly after added cacti and cowskull shapes to expand my Southwestern line. If a product is popular, then think about what makes it a best seller- is the subject matter trendy or in style this year, or is it just very well designed? Go with what feels natural when creating new designs and items.

Source: http://www.creativeincomeblog.com/

digital-marketing

Tips to improve your brand and your sales with Digital Marketing

To increase your sales in small industries, the world of digital marketing is necessary explored. There are many steps which of course you can learn to improve it all.

As an entrepreneur, you know that it takes more than an attractive and website to gain new customers and repeat customers. Since more and more consumers go online to find and buy the products they need, it becomes increasingly important for you to up your digital marketing game if you want consumers to land on your website and eventually buy from your small business. To help you get started, here are five digital marketing tips you can start executing to help improve your brand and your sales.

  1. Advertise on social media and search engines.

When advertising in social sites like Facebook and Instagram, be sure to plan your campaigns well. They should target customers within the city or community where your store is located, aside from your website online, since they are the most relevant and important people to your business. You can make this happen by using relevant keywords including your business physical address. Check and study the results of your ad to see which keywords are bringing you business. Replace those which are not.

  1. Choose relevant landing pages.

When consumers find your ads and clicked on them, you want them to be taken to a page on your website which will provide them with what they’re looking for, making it important that you give landing pages much thought. If you feel that you need to create one just for the ad that you launched, go for it.

  1. Keep your website up-to-date.

Yes, you’ve done everything needed to make your brand reach your target customers. The question now is when they click on your ad in the search results and they get routed to your website, will they be hooked enough to continue buying what you offer? With that said, you have to ensure that your business website is ready. Be on the lookout for web design trends, implement them on your site, test, and change them according to the results you get. Post relevant and shareable content on your business blog regularly to increase your chances of appearing in search engine result pages. More importantly, make sure your site has a responsive design and is optimized for mobile so customers can easily buy from you regardless of the device they’re on.

  1. Generate backlinks.

You’ll be amazed at how high-quality backlinks can help you rank higher in search engines and increase your business’ credibility in the eyes of your target customers. Of course, you can’t email bloggers and influencers begging for backlinks to your site. The best way to get their attention is by creating a shareable infographic related to your business. Start by searching related topics in your industry which you think people will find interesting. Use search tools like Google Trends and Google AutoComplete to make your job easier. Write down all the points you want covered in the infographic then hire a professional to get it done for you. Once it’s done, you can email it to news sites, blogs, and influencers. If they decide to talk about it in their blogs, you’ll surely get visitors and customers flocking to your site.

  1. Track your progress.

Analyze the overall performance of your digital marketing efforts. Find out which strategy helped give your business the return of investment you were targeting. Then tweak your digital marketing strategies based on the results.

Your small business needs a competitive digital marketing presence. Live by these five crucial tips to help you build a loyal customer base and to get your business ahead of your competitors.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

automation

Reduced overhead and increased customer satisfaction with Automation Tips

In the small industries, one of the important tips is automation.

If you peer into the future of small business growth and tech trends, you’ll see tips on topics ranging from responsive Web design to richer website animation. Among the most important of these trends, you’ll find business processing automation. This is a powerful tool that makes it possible for businesses to streamline the growth of their business through reduced overhead and increased customer satisfaction.

According to Jeff Haden of Inc.com, automation is the only way for small businesses to remain competitive in the future. Haden states that if you aren’t willing to take the time to automate now, “someone else will automate you out of business.”

Many tasks within a business structure are vital but also quite time consuming. This poses a major problem for small business owners who lack the manpower or ability to pay for extended man hours. Automating your business processes is the solution, and with these seven small business automation tips will help you turn your business into a well-oiled, productivity machine.

Small Business Automation Tips: Start Small

Automating business processes rates as a pretty significant change for your business; it’s best to ease into it slowly. Begin by automating your smallest, easiest process. Haden uses the example of Automic, (formerly UC4), a process automation company. It helped one of its customers to reduce the time it took them to provision new smartphones from 20 minutes to two minutes.

Focus on just one time-sucking process that you can improve, and then move onto another function. It’s always smart to start with a process with a high ROI. It gives you the absolute best results from maximizing your efficiencies. After a few successes, you’ll be well on your way to a culture of streamlining operations.

Small Business Automation Tips

Small Business Automation Tips: Reduce the Number of Processes

Automation can reveal business processes that you can do without. Oftentimes, automating a task consolidates several processes into one. It becomes evident that tasks you previously believed played an integral role in your business structure actually only supported a more important process.

Once you automate that process, the other supporting processes become obsolete. In terms of finances, time, and manual labor, this step will save you significantly.

Small Business Automation Tips: Build an Automation Culture

Humans don’t always feel kindly toward automation. When companies start automating, many employees worry it will push them out of a job. In reality, automation can remove some jobs, but it will also create other jobs. It develops an all-around culture of higher efficiencies and higher-paying jobs.

When speaking to employees about why they should appreciate automation, point out how the system will benefit the employees. As long as you can get employees on your side, in-house automation will be a breeze.

Small Business Automation Tips: Hire Automation Experts

After a certain point, the automation process will become too much for you and your current employees. You’ll have to bring in outside automation experts who can analyze each of your business processes and find ways to increase those efficiencies.

These outside experts bring experience that can boost your leadership initiatives and help your employees to see the big picture. Organizational change as vast as this requires some expert attention, even if it means adding to your team from the outside.

Small Business Automation Tips: Rely on Automation Tools

The benefits of automating in today’s society are that you have a large collection of tools at your disposal to complete the process. From automating your digital marketing presence to facilitating your customer service needs, having the right tools makes the procedure simple.

For example, the highly recommended Hootsuite automates your social media engagement. It connects to more than 35 global social networks so that you can monitor and post to all of your social media accounts all from a single dashboard. MailChimp, another useful tool, lets you automate your email marketing; and the best part: it’s free.

Small Business Automation Tips: Focus on Email and Social Media

As mentioned previously, it’s important to automate the easiest process that generates the most ROI. Your email and your social media marketing campaigns probably fit the bill. Although you can’t automate real-time replies on social media, you can schedule updates, posts, and alerts.

You can also send automated-response messages to customers when they contact you, or you can create a schedule to enhance your email marketing strategy. It’s a great way to generate leads without working overtime.

Small Business Automation Tips: Let Data Come to You

Data collection plays a very important part in small business automation. Large, big-budget businesses can hire entire departments to gather, sort, and analyze data about their customers and company performance. Small businesses don’t have that luxury.

Fortunately, small businesses can improve their data analysis processes through an automated system. Tools such as IBM Watson Analytics, Google Analytics, and Qualtrics can monitor and analyze numbers and information from a variety of sources. These include social media, customer support, tech, sales, finance, marketing, and more. By automating data analysis, you can collect hours of data in just minutes.

As Haden points out, a small business today cannot remain competitive and continue to grow if it doesn’t embrace automation. With the number of free automation tools and services available, small businesses have no excuse to ignore automating their business processes.

The sooner small business owners realize the need for automation—and instill that change in their company culture—the sooner they will reap increased efficiencies, more customers, and better profits.

Source: http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com

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New Craft Business Owners Need This Tips

Have their own business in the field of home industry is an exciting challenge. Of course, how can we manage it properly.

Starting a new craft business is daunting, but also exciting. You have taken the first important steps such as sorting out insurance and informing the taxman, but now you want to get stuck in, make the sales and create a profitable handmade business you can be proud of.

In this post I am sharing with you my top tips – or rather dos and don’ts on how to achieve that goal. I have made loads of mistakes in my six years of trading – so you don’t have to!

  1. Don’t spend a fortune on branding.     

Every marketer will tell you how important branding is and some people might also tell you to spend a fortune on a logo, stationary, website – the works. No, you don’t have to – not when you are just starting out. Of course creating your brand is important, but to me this is a process. A brand can evolve and change, just like your business does. When I had my first website I didn’t really have a logo and only a vague idea of what my brand should look like, when I revamped it for the first time I made my nautilus into a logo, mainly because people liked it and it was a best-selling product. I didn’t hire anyone to create that, I simply took a photo of it. Last year I revamped my website again, because I wanted everything to be in WordPress and my old website just didn’t have the functions I needed. I was five years into my business and had a clearer idea of what my website, logo and overall brand should look like. I didn’t hire anyone for my logo, I created it myself and asked friends and fellow crafters which of my various logo ideas they liked best. And because I love cats and sell a lot of cat related products, the logo had to be a cat of course. If you don’t trust your own design abilities you can find affordable logo designers on Fiverr or Etsy. Some sellers even offer you a whole package with FB cover, stationary design and other features.

  1. Spend time developing and road testing your product.

When you start out it is very tempting to create and make new products, after all this is the fun part of your craft business. However before you go wild and end up with a lot of handmade products that nobody will necessarily buy, road test them first. Develop your product and make a prototype rather than producing loads of the same item. Ask your friends and folks on Facebook what they think of it. Take it to craft fairs to see if it attracts any interest or sells. If you get positive feedback you can start thinking of making variations of if or more of the same.

  1. Don’t spend a fortune on craft supplies.

Now this is a biggie – and trust me I have done this. It is very tempting. I design jewellery and it’s one of those crafts where you can learn and play with many techniques and materials. It is so tempting to buy new beads, tools and craft kits and play around with these things. This is fine, if you can afford to do this, but at the start of your business money is generally tight and ideally budgeted. Choose a few materials instead and hone your skills. Experimenting is fine as it can help you finding and defining your niche or specialty. I started out mainly using semi-precious beads and seed beads, but found seed beads too fiddly and discovered polymer clay, which is currently my favourite material to work with, because of its endless possibilities. However, working with polymer clay isn’t cheap and comes with a huge variety of other craft materials and tools that you end up using. The temptation is always there for me to try out new things. If you find that you have materials that you don’t use – sell them on. Facebook has a lot of destash groups for crafters like this one which I run.

  1. The customer is not always right.

Yes, you read this correctly. What I mean with this is – often customers, or rather would-be customers, ask you “Why don’t you make xyz?”. And then you go to your bench or craft table and create it, only to find that there’s no interest or market and the person who asked for it doesn’t buy it either. Usually people have asked me in the past to make things that are fashionable at the time for example someone suggested I should make Shambhala bracelets (which I don’t like) or “50 Shades of Grey” charm bracelets (I haven’t read the books and am not remotely interested in them). I didn’t make those, because in the past I had been encouraged to make lots of foot thongs that nobody wanted to buy and learnt my lesson. These days I only make something like this on commission with money upfront, so I know this particular item will sell. I have to like what I make and following trends isn’t what my own business is about, because I don’t want to copy designs and ideas already out there.

  1. Make it harder for copycats.

Copyright infringement is a huge issue and I have seen posts in FB groups where people bitterly complain about their photos being stolen and their items being copied. I actually don’t know if this has happened to me as I don’t spend time googling these things. I am sure there are people out there who do this. I watermark my photos as a deterrent, however copycats can always find a way around this. I am also very generous with what I am sharing and often show my work in progress. If someone copies my stuff, there’s not an awful lot I can do about it other than to make it harder to copy and simply make my creations more unique and uncopyable. Ideas can’t be copyrighted – techniques, however, can be copyrighted. Copyright is a bit of a minefield. I am always worried that I will inadvertently copy someone else when I don’t intend to do so. When I work with a technique I learnt from someone else I point this out and acknowledge it. So in a nutshell – don’t copy other people’s work, be original and make it harder for others to copy your work. For more information about copyright check out this website of the organisation DACS (http://www.dacs.org.uk/knowledge-base/frequently-asked-questions) .

 

  1. Learn and improve new or existing skills

Continuous professional development (CPD) is important when you run any business. Go on courses to improve your existing skills or learn something new related to your chosen craft. I have been to a lot of courses such as silver-smithing, PMC (precious metal clay) and several polymer clay workshops. Going on these courses is great because you don’t just learn new skills you can also meet nice people and make new friends. I have also attended a PTLLS course where I learnt how to teach other people, which is quite useful too. If you find going on courses is too expensive you can try online courses instead as a cheaper alternative. I can recommendCraftArtEdu  where they teach all sorts of different crafts. CPD is not just about learning new craft skills though. You might find other areas in your business where you need to improve such as photography, bookkeeping and of course marketing or how to teach your craft online.  I have actually done Nicola’s Teach your craft online course with the intention to eventually teach others, but haven’t got around to creating my course yet.

  1. Don’t just rely on social media for your marketing.

Social media is great. It’s mainly free and you can create a following. However not everyone is on social media and Facebook, still the most popular one, keeps changing the goal posts making it harder for micro-businesses to reach their fans or “likers”. If you find Facebook works well for you – great. However, don’t dismiss other more traditional ways to reach a new audience. Why not reach out to publications and pitch them a feature idea that involves your business? Or offer a prize for the readers and a discount. PR is hard graft and not easy. It takes a while until you will finally find an outlet that will say yes. Make sure you know the publication that you are targeting and its audience.

Another way to reach new audiences is to write a guest post on a blog which attracts a big audience. Winning competitions is also great PR for your business, why not find a competition that you could enter – and by that I mean juried competitions.

  1. Use quieter times wisely.

There are times when business is quiet and you will find that sales are dropping. Mainly during the summer months when everyone is on holiday or when you are ill. Of course you could take the opportunity to go on holiday too, but if you don’t go, there are a lot of things you can do for your business. Such as develop new products, read business related books, overhaul the look of your social media accounts, declutter and destash, write blog posts, learn a new skill and so much more. I have actually written a whole blog post on this very topic which you can find here (http://www.helenkawhitedesign.com).

  1. Support other crafters.

Crafters often tend to end up being friends with other crafters and seek out support groups, which is great. Sharing advice and helping others not only feels good, but also will help you in the long run. Some people, not all of course, will remember you and give back. I have interviewed a lot of fellow crafters and also edited interviews with crafters for UK Handmade which certainly has helped their business. I am also happy to share what others make on my social media and make sure that I comment on and like the pages that I follow. I know how hard it is these days for FB page owners to get seen. I am also happy to share advice wherever I can in groups. Eventually this will pay off.

  1. Don’t give up quickly!

Here’s the thing. There are some craft business owners, who are an instant success within a year. They sell loads, they get a lot of coverage on social media and simply lucked out. The right idea at the right time or other factors might be in play. However for most of us success doesn’t come over night and you might find that in your first year you only sell very little and make a loss. Believe me – I have been there and my sales are not where they should be now. Of course I blame austerity and the fact that in the last three years people really struggle financially and can’t afford to buy something that isn’t really essential. However I am still trading and continuously looking for new ideas and ways to improve my business and get the sales. I have invested too much in this to give up quickly and am in it for the long haul. So don’t get disheartened after the first year. Experiment with marketing strategies and find out what works for you and ditch things that don’t work for your business. This year I have decided to no longer list my jewellery in my ETSY shop, because I concluded it’s not the right fit for me. This decision has freed up head space and I can fully concentrate on my website.

I hope these tips are useful to you. Don’t forget to enjoy what you do. After all that’s why you started your business.

Source: http://www.ahandcraftedbusiness.com/

Management Financial

Manage Your Small Business Finance

Although small business financial controls are needed to reduce losses. Here are some tips.

There’s no way to get around some of the challenges that come with being a small business owner. But the proper tools and support can help you navigate the world of debits and credits more smoothly.  Here are a few financial challenges you may face and some small business finance tips for managing them.

Small Business Finance Tips

Cash Management

Many small business owners can become overwhelmed by trying to manage their cash flow. Of course, you know you need accurate and timely data to line up the resources to handle crucial transactions – such as payroll – when needed. And the longer you wait to sort out your cash flow, the greater the risk for a mistake or oversight that can potentially damage your financial reputation.

Accurate and timely financial statements are a must because they help you make important decisions and manage your fiscal obligations. They’re also a critical component to getting extra capital through a loan if needed. Unorganized financial records can be a red flag to lenders and may convey the wrong impression about the company’s fiscal health.

Accounting

Having a modern, often cloud-based, accounting system is a staple of many well-run small businesses. In fact, helpful accounting apps have become quite popular because they integrate into a lot of other services for easier and more efficient use.

For example, if a sale is recorded in one department, a well-integrated accounting app can almost serve as a virtual employee and immediately make the necessary income or balance sheet adjustments to manage the transaction accordingly.

Small businesses should consider utilizing financial/accounting apps offered through their business bank or business credit card to help them keep their finances in check.

A Company Credit Card

Is a company credit card the right choice for your small business?

Naturally, there are pros and cons.

For example, a business credit card such as Ink from Chase helps keep personal and business expenses separate. The card also rewards spending. And those reward points are capital that can be easily re-invested into the business.

Burgeoning businesses can benefit from a business credit card too; this is a great way to establish credit and build financial stability.

Meeting the Challenge

Even the smallest of companies today have access to financial and accounting tools and resources that can rival those of a business twice their size. These technological advances are narrowing the accounting and financing gap for small businesses.

“Small businesses are strapped for time,” said Laura Miller, president of Ink from Chase. “The more we can bring together useful tools, the more we can help them be successful.”

In the absence of a fully-staffed financial department — or even a single dedicated person — a small business owner can rely on the numerous services offered by their financial institute or business cards to help navigate any financial management challenges they may have.

Source: http://smallbiztrends.com/

puzzle

4 tech tips To see your business success

Small industry did not escape and is now definitely need the name of the power of technology.

Small business technology is an integral part of every business. But often small business owners feel overwhelmed by the options, products, and competing theories surrounding small biz tech.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The good news is that by learning only a few things about technology, you’ll simplify your day-to-day business operations and become a better business owner. Don’t believe us? That’s ok. Check out our 4 tech tips below and see your business success go through the roof. You can thank us later.

  1. Don’t Cheap Out on Technology

Small business tech isn’t just important; it’s your lifeblood. Why? Because in the modern world communication relies on technology and your customer service relies on communication. Without it, your customers get frustrated, your employees can’t keep up with the demands of their jobs, and your business suffers. While at first glance the thought of investing in new business technology might sound expensive. But in reality, the inefficiency of keeping around an archaic system actually proves to be more expensive in the long run.

We don’t suggest you break the bank. But you’d be surprised what you can accomplish with an iPad and a few key apps. There are a variety of cost-effective, simple- to-use technologies available. Investing in the right ones is imperative if you want to reduce downtime, increase customer satisfaction, and continue to increase your profits.

  1. Harness the Power of Analytics

Analytics can tell you anything you want to know about how your business is operating. It also answers questions you probably never thought to ask. Knowing what customers think of your web presence and what demographic typically purchases from you is imperative. . Understanding the who, what, where, and why aspects of your small business helps you develop a strategy that will target your ideal customers and keep them happy.

small business owner using pos tech to monitor store performance

  1. Make it Mobile

Gone are the days where a 24-hour response time was considered standard business practice. These days, people expect you to be everywhere and respond to them in an instant. If you’re not mobile, the chances are good that you are missing out on time-sensitive opportunities. If you can’t manage staff and monitor your store performance on the go, it’s time to invest in small business technology that provide you these options. To fully optimize your chances to do more business, make sure your website has a mobile optimized version. Even if all of your business transactions happen offline, most customers will search for you on their mobile devices. This means their online experience needs to be as frictionless as their in-store experience.

  1. Embrace the Cloud

One of the most expensive small business technology costs is data storage. However, more and more small business owners are moving to cloud-based business tools 4 to take advantage of free, or inexpensive, data storage. Dated PC-based point of sale systems often required separate database servers. This meant business data was stored on a separate machine. Modern cloud-based POS software stores all of your data in the cloud, which means that management and key decision makers have access to accurate sales data, whenever and wherever they might need it.

Your POS system isn’t the only small business technology tool that can benefit from making a shift to the cloud. Tools like Google Drive allow small business owners to keep important information and documents stored in one secure place. While, accounting tools like Quickbooks can integrate with your POS system so that you can send your accountant accurate, automated updates, regardless of where they (or you) are in the world.

Simple changes, like using cloud-based business tools or mobile technology, can make a big difference in your business, improving the way you communicate with employees and run your business. Research the options available to you and start building your business on a solid tech foundation. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Source: http://www.shopkeep.com/

The Pittsburgh Home Industry

Here are the home industry who are interesting in Pittsburgh.

Woodwork

Incorporate nature into your space with these one-of-a-kind teak console and cocktail tables. Each of the tremont tables by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is made from natural teak root, which was sustainably harvested from trees being used for lumber.

“The tremont style lends an organic element to a modern space,” says Stacy Weiss, president and owner of Weisshouse. “The layers of the root create a statement through its natural form, and the glass top [on the cocktail table] lets you experience the impact of the organic structure.” —LD

Available at Weisshouse, 324 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside; 412/441-8888, weisshouse.com

Trending Tillandsia

Houseplants don’t have to be high-maintenance. Staghorn Home & Garden Cafe sells Tillandsia ($4.50-$29), a common air plant with more than 700 species. Air plants, which local gardeners say are particularly popular of late because they require little care, can live without soil by obtaining water and nutrients from the air. They flourish in areas with bright, indirect light and good air circulation. Air plants need to be misted with distilled water or submerged in water a few times per week, depending on how dry the surrounding air is. Either mounted or grown in an air plant terrarium, air plants are a great way to spruce up any indoor living area and filter airborne particulates without taking up too much space. —CK
(Staghorn Home & Garden Café, 517 Greenfield Ave., Greenfield; 412/315-7298, staghorngardencafe.com)

Garden Guides

Looking to find landscape inspiration for your yard? Join other garden enthusiasts on June 26 for the 19th annual Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Town & Country Garden Tour, which will feature 12 gardens in the North Hills. Attendees can expect to view residential gardens not typically open to the public and will have the opportunity to meet with the gardens’ owners. Register for the bus tour ($135), which includes transportation and lunch at the Wildwood Country Club, or the self-guided version ($55). —CK

(Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, 799 Pinkerton Run Road, Oakdale; 412/444-4464, pittsburghbotanicgarden.org)

Smart Yard

One new sprinkler-control system is redefining the smart home by extending technology to the yard. The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller — Generation 2 ($249.99) integrates with Amazon Echo to allow users to control their sprinklers with voice commands. Generation 2, which uses wi-fi to analyze weather and humidity levels and takes into account soil types and lawn conditions, was featured at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show in March. It is available at Home Depot, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and rachio.com. —CK

(rachio.com)

Homegrown in Homewood

Now in its fourth year, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Homegrown program provides access to fresh produce to families in Homewood. As a food desert, the neighborhood does not have easy access to fresh foods or grocery stores that sell fresh foods. This year, Homegrown organizers plan to build 60 raised-bed vegetable gardens for the neighborhood. The organizers will equip participants with all of the supplies they need to maintain their vegetables and herbs. —CK

(412/622-6914, phipps.conservatory.org)

Source:  http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/