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Starting a Craft Business - the basics to consider

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by Startacus Admin

It’d be fair to say that crafts have never really gone away, however they have certainly experienced somewhat of a resurgence in recent times. These days more and more of us are embracing crafts either by using our own craftingcreative and crafting skills, or supporting independent craft-makers and artisans when and where we can - and that can only be a good thing. Whether it’s knitting, card-making or pottery, if you’re talented and determined enough, it is possible to make crafting your career and not just a hobbyist activity. If you are the crafty type and considering turning your crafting hobby into a business, here are the basics you ought to consider:

What is your product?
This of course is a pretty basic thing to consider, but important nonetheless. You need to decide what particular products you are going to make and what exactly makes them special. In every crafting discipline, there are likely to be hundreds if not thousands of people making very similar products to yours. What you need to determine is what makes yours different. Do you have a proper Unique Selling Point that will differentiate yours from all the others? If you don’t, then you may find it difficult to really get noticed and establish yourself as a viable business.

Check out the competition
Just as with any other business, it is essential that you check out the competition. Who else is selling similar products to you? What are their prices like? Where are they selling from? Will you do the same or try and explore new markets? It would also be worthwhile to perhaps browse around some of the many craft forums that exist. Even if you don’t want to post a new topic or question, you can gain a lot of information about competitors and gain valuable tips and advice from simply reading what others in your position are saying.

Market Research
Identifying who you are going to sell to is essential. After all, knowing your market is key. Can you define your ideal customer? What is their spending power? How can you reach them?
This last question is particularly important since identifying where to sell your wares is critical. There are an abundance of online marketplaces geared specifically at the independent craftster. In fact we previously selected our Top 10 places to sell crafts online, which you could look at. It’s important too not to rule out the more traditional places - the craft fairs and exhibitions, the local fetes etc. Real life customers can be every bit as valuable as online customers. The key is simply to identify who your potential customer is and how you can best make them aware of your products.

Costs to consider
Compared to many other business types, crafting can have a much lower outlay and standard overheads may be lower, especially if you are working from home, as most craftsters tend to do, particularly in the early days. There are however still some costs which you ought to consider. If you are going into this as a real business, will you have to purchase any additional equipment or tools? After all, making something on a more regular or increased basis may take its’ toll on your existing tools. Also, will you need to factor in costs for selling - whether that is the costs for creating or hosting your own website or the commission costs you will have to pay should you avail of one of the marketplace sites? What about the costs of additional materials? Can you get lower prices for buying in bulk? Will you need to spend any money on marketing and promotion or are you planning to go down the free route with social media?

The legal stuff
If you are legitimately going to have a business and not a hobby, you will need to think about your legal structure. If it is just you, are you going to be a sole trader or do you feel it necessary to register a limited company from the off? Check out some of the resources in our Toolkit to help you decide. Of course, there is also the small matter of finances. Will you need to register for VAT? How will you maintain your National Insurance contributions etc. Should you get an accountant or perhaps use an online accountancy service? Is this your sole method of income? Will you need to create a business bank account? These are all essential things to consider if your crafting ‘hobby’ is going to be a viable business.

If you are determined to press forward with your craft business, then perhaps you would like to take a look at some of these useful articles;

Selling at craft fairs- Basic Tips

Some great  basic tips on becoming a part-time entrepreneur

5 Simple tips to professionalise your business

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Published on: 6th December 2012

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