Sunday, March 28, 2010

Home Business Tips #1: Getting Started

It takes a certain kind of madness to start your own home business, and a certain kind of courage to take it on full time. For myself, it was a matter of knowing that I had nothing to lose. I had just finished animation school, still working on my portfolio and all the while working part time as a cashier at a liquor store. By the way, I commend those who could put up with the harassment when it comes to dealing with jerks while working behind the counter because I'm pretty sure it took off a couple of years of my life. I ran into Etsy while browsing through the web and knew that I could do it. I could make things and sell them. I had nothing stopping me so the choice was easy to make.

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But for others, the decision is not as easy. Especially if you equate a family, husband, kids, pets, chores, full time job, friends, money, mother-in-law and the list goes on...and on. So before you jump into anything DO YOUR RESEARCH! Look before you leap because trust me, you may very well fall short and crash. It can all be very overwhelming, so take your time to figure it all out. There's no need to rush. Look at other shops/businesses, check out your local post offices, look up prices, inquire if you need a license, read blogs and/or books! Know what you're getting into because despite all the benefits of having your own small business, there are plenty of cons to go with it. Here are some of my own pros and cons:

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Pro: I'm my own boss! I make my time. I call the shots!

Con: I'm my own boss! Everything falls on me. If something goes wrong, or I've made a terrible decision - which I have many times - that's on my shoulders, and there's no one to blame but myself.

Pro: I don't have to deal with annoying co workers who talk crap about me behind my back. Yes, I'm talking about you, Aundrea! I know what you said about my hair!

Con: I'm alone most of the day. I'm not exactly a social butterfly but not having anyone to talk to for 9-10 hours 5 out of 7 days a week can be a little maddening. *twitch*

Pro: I'm doing something I enjoy for a living!

Con: I've turned what I enjoy into work...

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And when you finally have a good understanding of the market and what you're getting yourself into - and you're willing to take it on - for God's sake PLAN!! Where are you going to get your materials? Where can you get the best deal? How are you going to package and ship your items? How much are you going to sell your products for? Can you AFFORD your supplies and fees right now? Do you have an allotted space to create your items? Do you have the TIME to make items, post, ship, shop for materials and answer inquiries? Are your family and friends supportive of your endeavor?

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I think that last question is the most important. You can learn what you need to do in your business as time goes on - which is pretty much what I had to do - but if the people around you aren't on the same page then that's the hardest part. I started my shop when I was 23. My main responsibility was paying off school loans. I know for most, they can't say the same. Having a home business is time consuming, sometimes even heartbreaking when you don't immediately start making the sales you want. And remember that it takes money to make money. Make sure your decision isn't affecting those around you negatively. When it comes to having your own home business, you need all the support you can get from your loved ones. ^__^

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Where to sell?

Ebay, the granddaddy of all shop sites. But keep in mind that most everyone who shop on Ebay are looking for bargains. Great bargains.

Etsy, need I say more? A site dedicated solely to handmade things with an open door to vintage items.

is great for all artists. You can pretty much stick your art on anything: mugs, shirts, stickers, even shoes and skateboards!

Cafepress, very much like Zazzle. You can stick your artwork on shirts, water bottles and even pet bowls. But note that they don't have some of the cool stuff that Zazzle offers (ie personalized postage stamps, and did I mention shoes and skateboards?).

Your own website, but only if you know what you're doing because designing and building a website from ground up takes time and more than just basic knowledge of html coding.

is great for designers, BUT they don't accept just anybody. You have to be approved first. O__o

is considered a baby compared to the giant handmade community of Etsy. I, myself, have an account here (mind you, it's not open yet) but I've found to like the more intimate feeling of this community. Better make use of it now before it really explodes.

These are some of my fave sites. There are so much more out there so take a look. ^__^

So take everything into account, but at the same time don't think about it too much. I think people can sometimes overwhelm themselves with the fear of the unknown and psyche themselves out. If you really want to do it then go for it. Sometimes all you really need is the excitement of the challenge to motivate you to begin. Cause this SH*T is hard, but it's oh so worth it. ~__^

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Other helpful links

How to Start a Home-Based Craft Business
by Kenn Oberrecht, great book and very informative.

Dick Blick Art Material, they have EVERYTHING here. And when I say everything, I do mean everything.

Jewelry Supply
, name says it all. They have everything from beads to boxes to jewelry displays.

Adobe Photoshop
, beautify and edit your photos with this brilliant program. You'll wonder how you went without it for so long.

As always, happy crafting!

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