10 Things We’ve Learned From Our Creative Business

Keeping a sense of humor through the highs and lows didn't make the list but is very important. We think we excel in this area as you can see by this photo.

Keeping a sense of humor through the highs and lows didn’t make the list but is very important. We think we excel in this area as you can see by this photo.

  1. We’ve learned that our time is valuable.  Remember when you started our and thought that you could only sell items if your pricing was dirt cheap?  Over the years we’ve learned that our pricing must include a fair hourly wage for us.  Otherwise we are giving our products away for free which makes what we do a hobby not a business.
  2. We’ve learned that our business cannot afford to give discounts.  We price our merchandise carefully using a very accurate formula.  Our profit margin is not overblown on any item so therefore we cannot give discounts and still make a profit and donate to our non profit partners.  When we hear rude people comment about our pricing or try to buy our merchandise for a discount we politely refuse and remind them that a generous chunk of our proceeds to go our local non-profit partners.
  3. It is very important to find your tribe. These are people in the same boat as you who get your daily questions, struggles and celebrate successes with you.  Creative businesses can often be lonely to run.  Our tribe of link minded creatives is called Handmade in Kansas City.
  4. It’s extremely important to have all of your government paperwork in place if you truly want to have a successful business vs. a hobby.  Register your business, incorporate (or if you are like us form a legal LLP), charge taxes and pay taxes.  It seems daunting but a CPA can help you with all of this.
  5. Attending a maker conference will change everything.  There’s nothing like it to really light your fire.  We’ve tried a few but our absolute favorite hands-down is Craftcation Conference in Ventura California.  We’ve attended 3 times and every time we’ve come back and implemented what we learned and our business grew in leaps and bounds.  This is also a great way to find your tribe.
  6. It’s incredibly important to be open to change.  We make a point of stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone frequently.  When someone offers you advice about your business don’t blow it off, listen and REALLY consider it even if it sounds outlandish.  Some of our best changes and growth ideas have come from Mike Meyer of Meyer Music.  His ideas usually scare us a little at first but the fact that he has such a strong belief in us and what we do makes a huge difference to us.
  7. Taking a class to upgrade skills is creativity rejuvenating.  This will not only help widen your offerings and expand your business but it’ll keep your creative juices flowing.  It’ll also make you happy.  Happy shows through in your work.  You can often find classes at your local craft store.  If you’d rather take a class online we highly recommend Creative Live.
  8. It’s important to be the face of your business.  This is what Mike Meyer told us last spring.  We aren’t shy about sharing our products but never felt like we were interesting enough to share our faces and story.  Apparently we were wrong.  People want to see your face and know your story.  We will be launching a new website very soon and you will see much more of our faces and story on it.
  9. Customer service will make or break your business.  It doesn’t matter how beautiful your product is, if you don’t provide excellent customer service and back the quality of your product, your business will not flourish.  When you are working a show be welcoming and friendly to people who walk into your booth.  We’ve watched many makers over the years who read or play on their phones instead of standing up and greeting the customer like they are grateful they are there.  Worst customer service we’ve ever seen?  A maker ranting about politics while people came and went from the tent.  Oh and how about the lady who wouldn’t let people stand in her tent during a rainstorm unless they were going to buy something?  Greeting customers by speaking to them and looking them in the eye also reduces theft.  It’s win-win.  Online service is just as important.  Send your product out right away when it is ordered.  If the order is large or wholesale, follow up with the customer afterwards.  If the customer has feedback you do not like do not be defensive.  Believe it or not your packaging and customer service are as important as the product itself.  We send each product our in a branded muslin bag with a business card (not a stack), a handwritten thank you note and a receipt.
  10. It’s important to regularly acknowledge and celebrate how far you’ve come.  Don’t get so caught up in working on the future that you forget to celebrate your past.  We celebrate regularly.  If you know us well then you know that it’s usually with food.  That’s just how we roll.

We hope that what we’ve learned can help you out a little.  If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this blog and we’ll get back to you right away.  We love sharing information and contacts so go ahead and ask away!

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