If you’re running a handmade business, you may find that you have some downtime this January now that the operation of fulfilling Christmas orders is out of the way. There’s no better time to take stock of where your business is now and where you want it to be by the end of 2016!
It’s always good to reflect on your progress year on year, so that you can work towards business growth and success. In this post, we’ve put together some tips on how you can make sure that 2016 is your most successful year yet!
1. Analyze business performance from last year
In order to identify how to grow your handmade business, it’s important to check back on how your business did during the last year. Take some time to go through your sales figures so that you can see which products sold well and which didn’t. Make a note of the times of year that your products sold well and also if there were specific months that you experienced low sales.
Don’t forget to analyze your business expenditure. By doing this, you may be able to see areas where you can cut down on costs as well as make a budget for areas that you think you should be spending money on, such as additional marketing and your own skills and development.
While we’re on the subject of expenditure, this is a good time of year to try to buy your supplies and materials at low cost in the sales. Buying in bulk now could save you lots of money further down the line.
2. Set business goals for 2016
Once you’ve researched how well your business did last year, it’s time to set goals for what you want to achieve this year. Consider the vision you have for your business and set out some goals relating to growth.
Those goals might include a percentage increase in business turnover, sales and profit. You may want to develop another product line. Or you might want to increase the number of newsletter subscribers or social media followers.
No matter what your vision and goals are for your handmade business, one thing is for certain. You won’t achieve them without a plan! So for each of your goals, set out an action plan of how you’ll achieve them. Remember to make your goals “SMART” – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
It’s worth checking on your business goals monthly or quarterly to make sure you’re on track with what you need to do. Monitoring your progress frequently means that you can make changes to your business strategy as the year plays out.
3. Invest in self-development
This is one area that can often get overlooked by small business owners as they focus on what they think matters the most – making and selling handmade products. Of course, keeping your product inventory in tip top condition is crucial, but it’s also important to continue learning new skills. By continuing to learn, you’ll be able to add more strings to your bow, and in turn, improve your business.
Think about some skills that you could really do with developing to help streamline your business. For example, being able to use social media to your advantage could do wonders to help grow your following. Setting up your own blog or website could help you attract more subscribers and provide another platform for product sales. Or you might want to develop another handmade skill to help you create another product line.
All skills and knowledge can be learned and without breaking the bank too. Thanks to the internet, there is a wealth of information out there ready for learning, simply by setting aside some time to do some research. There are also plenty of tutorials on YouTube which you can access for free if you want to learn a new handmade skill.
4. Consider niching down
If you’re a handmade entrepreneur, you may already have plenty of handmade skills and love creating a range of products with them. However, if you spend a lot of time creating a large range of very different products, you may be missing a profitable trick or two.
The reason why is simply this: by creating a wide range of unrelated products, you’ll have to target your handmade business to a mass audience. That’s tricky (and expensive) when it comes to marketing and you might find that your overall sales and profit won’t reflect the time and effort you’re putting in.
By trying to sell everything to everyone, you could actually be limiting the amount of sales and profit that your business could achieve. And those potential buyers that swing by your shop could end up being confused as to what your handmade business is all about.
However, by making sure your business is targeted to a specific niche, you may find it easier to grow a loyal customer base that will come back for more. One that not only understands what you’re offering but whom also actually wants or needs various examples of what you’re offering.
5. Plan for seasonal and holiday trends
If you haven’t capitalized on the seasonal bandwagon properly yet, make this year the time to do it! Handmade products (and commercial off-the-shelf products) tend to sell more frequently during holiday celebrations such as Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This is why you’ll see major retailers gearing up for such periods in plenty of time by dressing up their window displays and having holiday or seasonal related products out ready for sale. So, for annual holidays and throughout the seasons this year, make sure you have some of your products linked to a theme in some way.
Then, promote, promote, promote! Throughout the year and around the holidays/seasons. Spread the word about your products on social media, on your blog, at events and through word of mouth. If you have an online shop, optimize your product descriptions regularly to include holiday or seasonal keywords.
Use this month to set out a proper plan for what products you’ll be trying to sell to make the most of seasonal and holiday trends and include your marketing strategy in it. If you need to create new seasonal product lines, plan some time for when this needs to happen. You can then use this plan every month to make sure you’re following what you need to do.
Plan now for a profitable 2016
Planning and evaluating your handmade business performance is a crucial part of growth and success, no matter the size of your business right now. By spending time now to focus on the above areas, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position to achieve success this year.
Will 2016 be the year that you take your craft business to the next level? If you found this post helpful, please take a minute to share this with your social media followers!