By Donna Maria Coles Johnson/Small Business Trends


As small business owners, we cannot become so bogged down in the minutiae of business that we don’t see the forest for the trees. For handmade entrepreneurs, this is especially challenging because we love what we do so much, it’s tempting to spend most of our time creating things, and not enough time marketing and selling them and planning for the future.  This often results in lots of nice products, but few sales.

If you find yourself in this situation, or want to avoid it altogether, don’t panic. I created a list of 10 specific essentials that will help you focus on revenue-generating activities, without sacrificing your passion for making the products you love.

1. Develop Consistent Systems

Systems create structure and help things run smoothly and efficiently, but handmade entrepreneurs, who often start as hobbyists, often resist them. The shift from hobbyist to business owner is a critical one to make — I know because I made it. I want you to assure you that it’s worth it. Set aside specific days of the week when you will make specific products. This will help you plan how to organize priorities. You won’t waste a moment wondering what to make next. You can even share your manufacturing schedule with customers (wholesale and retail) so they know what to expect. Use a tool like Google Calendar to plan and schedule blog posts, Tweets, and Facebook updates. You don’t have to be rigid, but a basic schedule will allow you to lead your business with more predictability, and you can tweak it you grow.

2. Embrace Technology

Each year, business success depends more heavily on effective use of technology. Handmade businesses are very high touch in terms of products and physical interaction with customers, but tend to be less so when it comes to using technology to increase sales. The good news is that I have seen people who were once fearful of technology fall in love with it when they begin tracing sales directly to the use of a once scary tech tool.

Begin by discovering what technologies are used by businesses that are similar to yours. Make a list of three or four things they seem to use effectively and watch their methods. Adopt similar approaches in your business and put your unique stamp on them.