creative biz | the basics you must consider before starting your biz

meagan visser of MeaganVisser.com has a fantistic five part series for us this week on running a successful creative or handmade business. this is part 3... (part 2part 1)

In my last post I told you a bit about my first Etsy shop...mainly about how I filled it with random things I'd created & not choosing one medium or being consistent with it. I shared about the problems that resulted in for me & my shop & I gave you 3 questions to ask yourself about what it is you have to offer.

Today I'm going to tell you a bit more about my story...

When I decided I was going to give Etsy a try it was because a friend of mine had a shop that was doing well. She was making decent money & she knew that I was into crafting so she encouraged me to start my own shop. She told me how easy it was & what she did with her shop. So excitedly, I had her help me get going.

We came up with a catchy name that wasn't already being used, created some quick shop graphics using a free online photo that we stuck my shop name on, wrote up some makeshift policies & a brief profile. Now all I needed to do was put my products into my shop when I got home & the sales would start coming in, right?

Wrong...again.

I started my shop on a whim. I didn't do any research or learning about selling online. I didn't know anything about legalities. All I wanted to do was sell some stuff & make some money. Now I'm definitely not one of those people that thinks you need to have a degree in business or marketing to make a creative biz work. So many people have proved that theory wrong.

All it takes is a vision, a willingness to learn & correct your mistakes, a great product & some marketing skills. So today I'm going to cover some very basic things you need to keep in mind when thinking about starting an online handmade business. This isn't all inclusive, but I'm going to link you to some great resources at the bottom of the post!

Name

This is usually the first thing you think about after you've decided what you're going to sell. My suggestion is to brainstorm 5-6 shop names that you like & ask friends & family what their favorites are. Keep these things in mind though when you're brainstorming!

  • your name should reflect your products, market, & branding {big idea}
  • your name should be short & easy to spell
  • check to see if your name is available on social media sites, as a website domain, on Etsy or wherever you choose to sell from, & that it's not trademarked

Legal Basics

This will vary by country and region (state/province etc.), so it's definitely something you'll want to check into before getting in too deep. Besides checking for a trademarked name, you'll want to look into these areas that will affect your business in a legal way.

  • Hobby vs business
  • Business entity (eg sole proprieto/sole trader, LLC/Pty, corporation, company, partnership etc. dependent on your country)
  • Registering your business name & applying for a tax number
  • Taxes & record keeping

I'm sure there are more legal things to consider. You best bet it to search Google for this info based on your state/country. You can always ask other business owners what they do & where they get their info as well.

Branding, Dreams & Goals

What does this business mean to you? Why are you doing it? Where do you want it to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? What are you going to do to get it there? What goals will you set for your business? It's important to think of these things when you're starting out because your answers will determine everything about your business from how serious you are about it, to the legal aspects, to your marketing, & beyond.

Graphics

When you have a business your logo will be one of the main things people remember you by. You think of McDonald's when you see that big yellow M, you think of Target when you see that red bulls eye, & you think of Apple when you see the apple with the bite out of it. That is graphic branding & you need to think about what you want your graphics to reflect.

What do you want them to say to your customers? What feel do you want reflected? You'll use these graphics in a lot of different places including your shop, website or blog, social media sites, ads, business cards, shipping & packaging material or any other marketing materials you may end up wanting. So like I said earlier, these are some basic areas to think about when it comes to starting up a handmade business.

Below are Amazon links to two of my favorite books all about handmade/craft businesses. You can get them on Amazon, ebay, book trading sites, discount book stores, or at your local library. They are a wealth of information & I'd recommend them to anyone considering starting a creative business. The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco Also check out this review on Business Basics from the above book - Craft Inc. It covers a lot of the above topics a bit more in depth if you're interested!

Share with me in the comment section...

What business basics have you been putting off learning & why? 

further reading:

Meagan Visser is a wife, mother, & creative entrepreneur living in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. She inspires moms to pursue their creative business dreams on her coaching website MeaganVisser.com & she offers fashionable & eco-friendly products for babies & toddlers in her Etsy shop, Baby Swank. Connect with her on Twitter & Facebook!