I am beyond grateful to my past self that I put myself out of my comfort zone and went to this class. It was the jumping point to now owning my own business! *Squeel
Last Wednesday, I decided to take one of my only nights off and head to the University of Hartford's Entrepreneurial Center. They were offering a three hour class on how to start your own business. It was beyond what I could’ve hoped for.
Needless to say, I learned a lot from this experience and I’m excited to share what I learned with you. Here are 5 out of 10 of the best pieces of advice I learned from this class.
1. You know what product/service you want to sell, but what are people going to buy?
We all have great ideas, but in order for great ideas to transform into a business, customers have to be on board as well. As an artist, I’ve decided I want to sell my artwork in the form of prints, cards, and other products. But… is anyone going to buy it? To answer this question I defer to #2
2. Who is your target customer?
Lacey gave the best advice when talking about target customers, stating, “you won’t see billboard advertisements for Rolexes in poor areas.” Basically meaning, you need to market your product to the people who will be interested.
For example, my target audience is:
Women (preferably ones with children, nieces, nephews... anyone who needs birthday cards/gifts)
Between Ages 25 and 65 (A big age gap but my product appeals to all ages)
Who make a Middle to High Income (Enough to want to spend some extra dough on cards and stationary)
And have an interest in DIY, crafts, and art (Because people who appreciate art tend to buy it! )
There are many more factors you can use to narrow down your target audience but these were good enough to get me started.
3. What price range do you want to be in?
Are you going to sell your products below market value, at market value, or above market value? This will also help you to decide who you’re marketing to. If you want to sell your products competitively but affordable then you want to keep your products at market value. However, if you’re trying to market to very high end clients than you’re going to be above market value. Knowing your market will help you to better understand your client’s values and how and where you are going to start advertising.
4. How does the economy effect your business?
If the economy is doing well then the demand for handmade goods goes up. Yay! However, when the economy starts to slip you’ll begin to notice some decline or increase in business, depending on where your product falls in the market. For instance, if you’re in the middle class and things start to become more expensive, you’re going to start shopping below market value. However, if you’re really wealthy, then this won’t affect you much and you will continue shopping at above market value stores. This is one reason why you should have products and services at every end of the spectrum even if your main focus is within a specific market. (This way you’ve got something for every client!)
5. How much are you willing to give up for your business? (This last one is tough but arguably the most important.)
The first page of the small business intro packet we were given had a series of small business readiness questions we were supposed to answer. Those included questions like…
Are you prepared to work more than 12 hour days, weekends, and even holidays in order to keep your business successful?
Do you have the physical stamina to handle a “self-employed” work load?
Is your family prepared to handle all the rest of life’s chores and activities while you thrust yourself into this new life?
Remember that you will be the sole person responsible for creating a schedule, organizing projects, making calls, bookkeeping, marketing, and manufacturing the product you want to sell. That’s a lot of hats my friend and while some people are ready to sink or swim others might not be, and that’s okay too. Just consider this before spending all the money in your savings on a business you can’t give everything to.
On that note…
I’m concluding this entry of my journal (It's almost like you guys are reading my diary). Part 2 will contain more business terminology, financial advise, and some real steps toward starting your own business. So for now, do some research on your product, your market, what people are buying, and prepare yourself because owning a small business is no easy task. (But it is worth it!)
Have any questions? Ask away in the comments below and stay tuned for Part 2!