Starting a craft business can be as simple as setting up a small table at a local show, or as sophisticated as a developing a full-scale business plan with long term financial forecasting, marketing plans and growth strategies. Or it can fall somewhere in between.
I was lucky to be able to participate in a year-long small business training program when I started my company. I worked with mentors who guided me through the early stages, and I dove into my business well prepared with a business plan, good bookkeeping tools, an idea of how I would structure my time and access to mentors to help me along the way.
I know most people don't have access to that level of support and training. In fact, around the time I realized how fortunate I was to have all of that support was when I decided to share everything I could on this site so others could benefit.
Don't let the thought of lots of planning overwhelm you. You do not have to have all of the things I mentioned in place when starting a craft business.
In fact, that's what's great about this type of business - You can commit as much or as little time as you like depending on what you want from your business and how you plan to prioritize your business with your other commitments. You can be as casual or as formal as you like based on your priorities and expectations.
Of course, the more time and effort you put into planning your business, the more ready you'll be to recognize and grab great opportunities, avoid mistakes and grow in a direction that makes sense for you and works with your values, goals and priorities.
You can build a craft business in a lot of ways. In fact, the number of forms a craft business can take might be surprising. Gone are the days when you were limited to doing shows and selling to indie retailers. There are so many more ways you can build a creative business. Every decision from what craft media you work with, what style you adopt, and how you reach your customers will come together to form the unique structure of your business.
When starting a craft business, in order to develop the type of business that is satisfying to you, it is important to think through things like:
I've developed a 19 week course that shows you, step by step, how to find a craft business idea that's a great fit with your strengths and is in harmony with your business goals. Taking some time to really assess your ideas before you dive in can help you move forward faster, and ensure you're developing the type of business that really meets your needs.
Want to think beyond selling at craft shows and on Etsy? Here are 19 different types of craft businesses. Which one works best for you?
Some statistics on the types of crafts that sell well and the types of crafts that are most profitable (they are not always the same thing).
Wondering how I started my creative business? My business has gone through a lot of changes, but it all started with handmade jewelry, Here's how I got started selling jewelry many years ago.
Are you thinking about starting a candle making business? Here are some thoughts to consider before you get started.
If you're looking at selling your handmade soaps, read on for some ideas for creating a soap making business.
Debbie Ritter shares her thoughts about selling on Etsy and describes how she started selling her clothespin dolls.
You Must Have a Dedicated Work Space
If you're going to be truly productive and work as efficiently as possible, you really do need a dedicated work space. It doesn't have to be extravagant, but it should be functional.
This lesson is probably the first and most important lesson I learned when I started to work from home. It is very difficult to succeed at working from home if you don't have a dedicated place to work.
A dedicated home office / craft room allows you to:
I have a combined home office / craft studio space. I do not have a large home, in fact my home is smaller than most (less space to clean!), but I've been able to carve out a home office in a small, bright spare bedroom.
You don't need a huge, fancy space, but you do need a dedicated spot where you can store your supplies, work undisturbed and leave your work spread out if necessary.
I don't always work in my office / craft room, especially when I'm doing computer work. I'm just as likely to have the laptop out on the kitchen counter, or be working in the living room. I have young children, so I often have to work whenever and wherever I can grab some time and space. But I do have a dedicated place where I can close the door and think, store all of my supplies, and spread out projects when I need to. It would be very difficult to run my business without that space.
Here's a tour of my office / craft room - my favorite room in my house! I hope it give you some inspiration for planning your own studio.
If you want advice and inspiration for creating a craft studio that is attractive and functional, check out this is great book with lots of photos of real working craft studios.
Tips to help you design a craft room that goes beyond pretty and is extremely functional
Of course storage is always an issue. Here are several craft storage tips and ideas.
There are all kinds of practical things to take into account when starting a craft business. First, and foremost, you really need to make a commitment to do what it takes to build your business.
If you intend to grow your business beyond a table at the local school or church bazaar, you'll need to think about exactly what type of business best meets your needs and how you'll plan ahead to:
It's not rocket science, but there are several practicalities that can quickly become important when you start a home craft business. You'll find lots of information and resources for managing your business here.
I'm sure you've heard the advice that you should follow your passion, and success will follow. I cringe every time I hear someone say that. Here's why that advice is harmful and what you should do instead.
A reader asked for some general tips about getting started with her craft business. Here is her question and my response to her.
Craft forums can be an excellent resource, particularly when you are expanding your skills with a specific type of craft, learning to work as efficiently as possible or looking for great sources of inexpensive supplies.
Starting a Craft Business