How to Start a Handmade Business with the Right Mindset
Starting a handmade business becomes easier if you take the time to define not only who your ideal customer is, but also what you want your customer to feel when they buy from you.
While it may seem trite, writing down a list of your business’s core values, a handmade manifesto of sorts, is actually empowering. It will give your business a sense of purpose and direction.
Defining the core values of your business will also help you impart those values into your work, which in turn will build customer trust and create raving fans.
Every artist and artisan will have different values and will express those values in unique ways, but I have tried to compile some core truths that every business can remember to follow.
Developing a business mindset that incorporates these core truths or values will, hopefully, give you greater clarity when making difficult business decisions.
1. Quality but also Quantity
The familiar cliche of “quality over quantity” hides an important reality.
Quality and quantity are not polar opposites. In fact, quantity can produce quality, which is illustrated by another cliche, “practice makes perfect.”
Quality and quantity are actually intricately linked. Focusing on quantity teaches you how to reach quality.
So, in your handmade business, focus on creating batches of items. Don’t worry about each detail on every item because you will automatically become better simply by making more items.
That doesn’t mean letting quality slip, instead stick to a minimum quality standard, which will increase over time.
2. Only Be a Perfectionist After Receiving Feedback
In the startup world, the idea of “fail fast” motivates founders to try different strategies until they find a truly successful strategy.
Creators of all kinds tend to be a perfectionists and hesitate to release anything to the world unless it’s perfect.
The problem with that is what you create is never “perfect,” everything can be improved; but that’s ok!
Take a lesson from startups, and release the products that you believe are “not quite good enough.”
Test the market, get feedback from customers or friends, then be a perfectionist about taking that product to the next level.
Remember, failing fast does not mean releasing a poor quality product. Poor quality products will always fail unless you are a monopoly.
And, failing in this context is a good thing. Failing here is not a value judgment on the artistic merits of your work, but rather a test of the market.
If you put forth a high quality product, market it well, and it still fails, then you have gained valuable. Your path forward is also clear, modify your offerings or pivot to something else.
3. Let Yourself be a Disaster
I first heard the maxim, “Every master starts as a disaster” on a Pat Flynn podcast. Besides the literal truth of that phrase, remember that the beginning stages of learning anything new are challenging.
No one can teach you to be a master of anything over night.
In fact, the best way to learn is to be a disaster. Start doing the thing that you believe you are unqualified to do.
Forcing yourself into those disastrous situations will teach you more about what you need to do to become a master than any single teacher or mentor ever can.
Afraid to create a website because it would look terrible? Do it anyway. Afraid to market yourself on social media? Ask a friend to post about one of your products first. Need to create a product label? Try making your own first.
Just do it.
4. Take Care of the Task You Dread Most First
By eliminating the most difficult task first, you help free yourself from procrastination and worry.
And with the major task gone, all the smaller to-dos will feel easy in comparison.
Take a deep breath and do the heavy lifting now, you’ll feel motivated by your own courage.
5. Have a “Why”
Your “why” could be that it brings you joy to see others appreciate your work.
But developing a stronger why will give you greater purpose.
Develop a why around making the world a better place.
Change your mindset from, “I derive enjoyment from my art” to “My art is having a positive impact on someone else’s life.”
Creating a mission for yourself to help others will not only inspire your own creativity and productivity, but will also help you serve your customers better.
6. Show Gratitude
Thanking a customer goes a long way.
I know that when I open a package that includes a thank you note, I think, “how thoughtful.” I am much more likely to remember an interaction with a seller who thanks me for making a purchase.
Practicing personal gratitude also provides huge returns. If you train your mind to be grateful, even for small wins, you will not only feel happier but you will also inspire others, who will look to you for more inspiration in the future.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I would love to hear about your entrepreneurial journey and the advice or mantras you followed to get to where you are now.
Please leave a comment below and share the helpful, or not so helpful, advice that you received as you began building your creative business.