Pinterest makes stuff look super easy. Bake a cake. NAILED IT! Best updo you’ve ever seen? BOOM! Start a business...?
There are a few things that I wish someone would’ve told me when I was getting ready to start my business. I am just going to share my top 3 with you.
Now, don’t get all freaked out. Take a breath. There are a lot of things you can get done rather quickly (this is the part where you go and read How I Started My Business in 30 Days). But there are things that you cannot research and you have learn what I call a “life lesson”. So without further ado...
1. Starting a business is NOT just selling something: this is a big one! It’s kind of like that saying “anyone can have a baby but everyone can’t be a parent” - a lot of people can sell things, doesn’t mean they can run a business.
Running a business is not only creating a product or buying inventory. It’s dealing with/creating the branding. It’s customer service. It’s trial and error. It’s a ton of wasted supplies, overbuying, scrambling because you didn’t buy enough. It’s a million things that I can’t even name right now because I am not currently writing a novel.
Did I think I was only in this to sell stuff when I started out? Not at all. I have a handmade business, I knew there would be work involved. But my goodness! I mean, I pull out a few strands of hair every month just filing my sales tax! If you think you are just going to gather a few things and slap a “For Sale” sticker on it and be done - you are in for a rude awakening and you are going to be crazyyy busy, all the
Speaking of crazy busy 2. Set a schedule for yourself: when I first opened up I would literally stop everything I was doing when I got an order in. No lie, working my regular job and stopping in the middle of the day to pack up an order. Up at all hours of the night making batches of shower fizz and printing labels. I was driving myself insane! And I had no one to blame but myself.
Set your processing times and shipping days right out of the gate. For example, all of my orders are processed within 5 to 7 business days which gives me enough time to create, if needed. It gives me time to package. Or just flat out not do anything if I need to take a mental break. Processing days give me a timeframe in which I need to work but it also gives me some cushion because orders and product availability can be unpredictable.
My shipping days are currently Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This keeps my postman from wanting to fight me for shipping packages everyday. It gives me pretty clear cut days in which I can create, pack or even wait for supplies if I need to. It also gives me the weekend off - so I can spend time with my family and friends and not be at the mercy of my business.
Bottom line, set some sort of schedule for yourself. You may not need 5-7 days if you’re not creating the products by hand but the worst way to live it to run around like a banshee every time you hear the “cha-ching” from Shopify (or Etsy or whatever platform you
Last but not least, 3. Figure out where to set your prices before you start selling: I probably should’ve listed this first because it is very, very important! I made this mistake all the way around when I started selling. I just eyeballed something and said “eh I think that’s like $4”. I even made up the shipping prices, no research, nothing. I basically, was not making any money at the beginning because I was pouring the pennies I had left back into the business. It wasn’t even breaking even for a bit as I was needing to use some of my personal money to buy supplies as well.
Pricing can be a little tricky depending on what you sell. I stumbled upon another blog Creative Hive Co who offered a pricing worksheet that is free when you sign up for her newsletter. It’s super easy to use, The formulas are already in it and it is pre-loaded with markups and profit margins (that can be adjusted if needed). This was the best/biggest win for me because 1) I am terrible at math and 2) it helped me price my products and I am now making a profit within my first 6 months of business.
If you do not sell handmade there is a different approach you will probably want to take. If you sell jewelry for example, you wouldn’t buy a necklace at $10 and then sell at $11. You have to determine what you want your markup to be and what kind of profit you want to make. You also need to look at the market to compare as best as you can. You don’t want to undersell yourself but you should probably stay away from a 500% markup as well. Back to the $10 necklace; if the customer can get that same exact necklace for $20 in the mall you may want to stray away from selling yours for $50.
Pricing can be a double edged sword. And honestly, there isn’t even a right or wrong way to price. But what I want you know for sure is that you have to have some sort of method to your pricing. And it’s usually not just saying “eh I think it’s like $4”. Look up YouTube videos on how to price items for your small business.
I could really make a much longer this than this but like I said above, I think these 3 things are the most important and would have been the most beneficial for me had I known them months ago.