6 Things To Know Before Starting Your Business
I love to hear stories of how someone started their business, both their struggles and their successes. We can all learn from one another and help prepare each other for the next step in our entrepreneurial journey.
I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with my business and I learned so much through all of them. I learned the most by surrounding myself with other makers and dreamers. Some are years ahead of me in their journey and others are just starting off, but together as a whole, they make me a better, wiser, stronger business person.
I want to share with you the top 6 things I wish I had known before I started my maker journey.
Shipping: It costs way more than you think
I prepared, ran all the numbers… USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx. I knew what size my shipping boxes needed to be for different sized orders, but what I was not prepared for was how quickly shipping adds up…labels, ink, packing supplies, MY TIME, shipping software, and the sliding UPS scales. One thing I do know… it’s more expensive than you think.
Manufacturing Time = never on time
60 Days they say?!?!? The first run is never what they tell you. It’s just like a construction project or remodel of your home…something always pops up! It’s always important to factor in shipping time too. If importing through a freight forwarder, there tends to be a hold up somewhere along the way. Whether you are waiting for customs clearance or a truck to deliver your container, there will be delays. Plan for them!
It’s ok to ask for help.
I had a HARD time handing over pieces of the workload. I always felt I could do it better and faster. That was a lie. You can’t do it all and do it well. It may not be feasible in the beginning, but eventually, you will need to outsource and hire independent contractors. Every time I have handed over a set group of tasks it has taken a while to adjust to, but when I finally did, it really lightened my workload. That being said, I do think is it important to get your hands dirty and learn every single part of your business. Hire out after you have done it yourself. When it is time to hand it over you will know exactly what you are letting go of and how to manage it!
You have to spend money to make money.
When I first started off I was so afraid to spend money. I had already spent so much on the development of the product… now I had to dig myself an even bigger financial hole to market it??? Yes, yes you do! No one will know about this amazing product you made unless you invest in telling people about it!
Know your exact specs before you contact overseas manufacturers.
When I first started reaching out to manufacturers I had a set list of images files and descriptions I would send over. I would first find out if they made what I was looking for and then ask them what information they needed to get a quote to me. They knew I had NO IDEA what I was doing. You need to research what files they will ask for, PDF or AI files? Transfer your measurements from inches to centimeters. Have your non-disclosure agreement ready as well. Make them think you have been doing this for years and they would be lucky to have your business. Make sure to get referrals and introductions from others. Make them take you seriously!
Product pricing strategies
Are you planning to sell your product to the direct consumer or at wholesale to retail stores? It’s important to know this before you determine your pricing. Make sure you have enough margin left to sell at a wholesale price which is usually 50 points or percent off the suggested retail price. Do you plan to use rep groups in the future? They will need to make a commission off that wholesale price and big box… expect a huge cut into the wholesale price! Plan your SRP with these things in mind so if you are presented with a great opportunity you won’t have to turn it away!
I’m sure this list will change over time. I’m still pretty new at this and I am by no means an expert. I hope that by sharing what I have learned it can be of help to you. I learned a lot from the failures and disappointments I faced along the way. Those were the moments that produced growth and strengthened my knowledge. We have all had them, the good and the bad.
I will encourage you to share them with other business owners because it is those moments that make the times of success so much sweeter.
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Natalie Ard is the creator, author, and illustrator of The Christmas Star From Afar® and The Easter Story Egg™. She is a wife and mother to three and has built the Star From Afar Kids company on the foundation of creating inspirational, interactive games and toys that help children play with a purpose. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.