How to Grow My Maker Business
Has anyone ever told you that your cheesecake, handmade jewelry or gadget invention is so amazing that you should sell it? If so—and you’ve turned that passion into a business—then you’re a maker, someone who constructs and sells something of their very own creation.
If people are lining up to purchase your wares, you may find yourself in the enviable position of being in demand. Though success is sweet, it’s easy to become so busy filling orders that you neglect your marketing efforts. In turn, business slows and you find yourself asking, “How do I grow my maker business while I make my product?”
Here are some ideas to break that cycle and keep your maker business thriving—even when you’re in the throes of playing catch up with your orders.
How to Grow My Maker Business
While it may seem obvious that you need to hire help when your business is booming, you might be overlooking an eager and energetic talent pool: Interns. They’re not just for Fortune 500 companies. They can be a boon for small businesses that need help, too.
Be sure to set clear responsibilities for your intern. Perhaps you’d like yours to establish a social media marketing plan or research growth opportunities for your business. Identify a goal for your intern’s project, and give him or her the freedom to run with it.
If you’re new to the world of interns, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers advice on the ins and outs of hiring them for small businesses. Start by assessing your business needs, along with how you would train, manage and compensate your intern. Then, contact local universities and colleges—along with online job boards on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other sites—to recruit the right intern for your business.
Price Your Product Right
Many makers initially offer their products at a low-price point so they can establish a customer base. After all, if you’ve been making your homemade jams as gifts for family and friends, you may not realize how much people would be willing to pay.
The problem with this low-price approach is that it sets you up for challenges as you grow. If your product takes off at a low-price and is in demand, you have to ramp up your production. In the case of the jam, it means finding—or building—a manufacturing facility, creating a supplier network and working with a food scientist on nutrition labeling, to name just a few tasks.
As you grow, your expenses increase, and you may find your once-reasonable price isn’t yielding a profit for you. You get into a jam with your jam, so to speak, and you find yourself in the position of needing to raise your prices. To avoid this conundrum, put in the effort to price your product appropriately from the get-go. Analyze your costs and your target revenue, along with what your customers are willing to pay for similar items, either at your business or with a competitor. Then, determine a price that enables you to operate in the black.
Collaborate with Other Makers
At first glance, they may seem like the competition. In reality, they can become valuable allies. Take a walk around your local farmer’s market and street fair. You’re likely to run into individuals like yourself who are trying to turn their passions into a successful business. When you collaborate with them, you can leverage advertising dollars by placing joint ads, share hard-to-find resources for manufacturing or packing your product and find a support system of other entrepreneurs who understand exactly what you’re going through.
For example, the Maker Co-op is a group of 11 independent, creative businesses that found they are stronger together than on their own. Though they each have their own unique styles and talents, collectively they can offer customers who appreciate artisan goods a wide variety of handmade products, broadening their reach in the market.
Just when you think you’re maxed out and can’t handle any more work, it’s time to think bigger so you can leverage your momentum into growth for your business. Your customers may love your gemstone bracelet designs, but soon they’ll be asking for earrings and necklaces to match.
Do your best to stay ahead of the curve and offer them the next big thing—before they even know they want it.
Be Prepared to Hate What You Love—Sometimes
As a maker, you probably launched your business so you could make a living doing something you love. When you’re bogged down and stressed out, you may find yourself struggling with your passion, just a little. It’s only natural to feel that way from time to time. When stress has you down, don’t forget to remind yourself why you started your own company in the first place.
With the right approach—and by considering the above advice—you can dig yourself out of your backorder log and grow your maker business into the succeeding venture you always knew it could be.