Starting up a Selling Business, Part 4 – set up shop

English: Vendor selling craft dolls and other ...
English: Vendor selling craft dolls and other souvenirs for the Grito 2010 in the Zocalo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve chosen your craft, even narrowed it down to a niche, and maybe you’ve already decided which marketplae is best for you.  Now, comes the work of preparing it all so that you CAN sell.  Whether you are choosing to sell online, or have a physical store, or even planning on utilizing craft shows or boutiques, you have to have to affairs in order.

I personally know of lots of examples of “accidental sellers”.  What does this mean?  Usually, this person created something awesome for them-self or as a gift for someone else, posted a picture on Facebook, and started getting requests.  It slowly evolved into a business.  However, most of the time, especially if you are new to the selling business that has been going on for several years now, you have to consciously choose and work really hard towards selling your hand-crafted goodness.  I know that once you make the decision to start selling, you become eager to actually start selling!  However, depending on the marketplace that you have decided to start selling in, there is going to be a bit of pre-work to accomplish before your first sell has been accomplished.

SELLING ONLINE: The beauty of selling online is that you can start almost as soon as you decide that you are ready to.  Make up a product, take pictures, list it.  You can list one item at a time, and therefore don’t need any previously created inventory before opening shop.  As time continues, you can add more items to your shop as you create them.  Obviously, the more products that you list in your shop the more potential customers will visit your shop and the more sales you will make.  But the initial start-up is relatively easy and mostly immediate.

PHYSICAL STORES: By a physical store I am talking about any selling venue that involves customers coming into direct contact with your products.  Specifically boutiques or consignment stores, or even a few stores that have been created to specifically sell hand-crafted goods.  To prepare for these, requires a lot of the same product…or wholesale.  For example, I recently sold 30 adult-sized crochet hats to a lady.  They were all basically the same, basic beanies, all in the same size, but in different colors.  That took a bit of time!  However, when doing an order like this, you can assembly-line the products, cutting down on production time, and producing many more of them.

English: Craft sellers
English: Craft sellers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CRAFT SHOWS: I think that these might be the hardest and most time-consuming to prepare for.  At least it has been for me.  You want to give your potential customers lots of options with lots of colors, in as many different sizes as you can muster; appealing to the audience that is going to be shopping there (so, following along the same line as the other sellers participating in the same show).  I am going to use a personal example again here: The last craft show I did, I had Halloween hats, Christmas and winter hats, scarfs (infinity, ruffle, lace, etc.), flower hair clips (with a wide selection of headbands), and other hats (animals, basic beanies, etc.).  All available in several different sizes.  So, basically, I set up a miniature version of my own store-front.  Also with craft shows, you must put in the time, effort, and resources to create the display that is going to draw customers to you, take the time to set-up and later take-down the tables.  A craft show is not just about your product; a majority of the determination if you have a successful show or not is going to depend on the display that you have also created.

Each marketplace comes with its own set of pros and cons, and you can be very successful with any and all of them.  However, you also need to go into the selling platform being fully prepared and ready to handle anything that a customer throws at you.  I have just listed the obvious factors to get ready for you start selling.  Regardless of the platform that you have chosen to sell on, there are a few other things (non-products related) that also need to get taken care of before you can sell.

  • Oxfam East Africa - SomalilandDrought014
    Oxfam East Africa – SomalilandDrought014 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Shop Policies: How are you going to handle returns, lost shipments, mis-sized products, custom orders?

  • Tax ID Number: This is all going to depend on the state that you are working in, but it is definitely NOT a bad idea to put forth the work to become a legitimate small business!
  • Contact Information: Before you say “duh”, this could so easily be overlooked.  Having an email address that is specific to your little business can help you stay organized, and make it easier for customers to get in touch with you.  Do you want customers to have the option of calling your cellular telephone?
  • Website: While this one is largely optional, having a website can only help your business.  This, however, often falls into the same category as advertisement.  You don’t need it, could take up valuable creation time with maintaining, but is also beneficial in promoting sales.
  • Shop name: This one is definitely a “duh”, but you need to have a name for branding, location, and contacting purposes all before you make that first sale.

Keep in mind that however small you start off, you are a professional business!  Most companies have a team of a dozen, or more, people handling everything that you are going to have to take control of.  And all of this is on top of the creation process.  I know that its a lot of hard work to get started, but if you keep with it, keep learning, keep creating, get off to a good and a RIGHT start, it will be very worth-it!

Follow my blog to get email updates for the rest of this series on how to start up your own craft-selling business, and don’t forget to like this post if you’ve found it useful!!

Part 1, choosing your craft

Part 2, narrowing down the niche

Part 3, where to sell

Part 4, set up shop

Part 5, keep on keeping on



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