When I first started this adventure that is my home business, I’m not entirely sure that I knew what I was getting myself into. With little accounting background (I can make balance sheets.. that is a start right?), no business background, and no money to take courses.. I knew that I was going to have to learn a lot of small business stuff myself (aka: the hard way). Some things I have learned the hard way, and some things I was lucky enough to find online through business advice blogs, forums and anywhere else that I could suck information.
A lot of the *really good* blogs and sites were incredibly dry. I don’t mind reading a lot of information, but a lot of business advice blogs are well… all business. In between trying to understand the lengthy and very confusing policies (Paypal is a culprit) and shipping information online (I have actually given up on reading shipping info online it is actually impossible for me), the lengthy and boring business tactics were just too much “not fun”. I would end up skimming, and probably missing what I was supposed to be learning.
Today, I found another business advice blog/ site.. and instantly fell in love with it. It is called IttyBiz It has advice for a lot of different aspects of small businesses, including marketing, and encouraging/ supportive tips. I read a lot of the posts and found a couple gems that I will keep with me. Not only does it have a lot of great advice, but it isn’t painful to read, and isn’t full of business jargon. Naomi (the head lady at IttyBiz) even has a few posts discussing swearing, and whether or not (or how) it affects your blog hits, sales and business. She swears on her blog, and evidently receives hate mail for it. I have personally received a few questions about my use of swearing, and admittedly try not to swear too much on this blog for the sheepish reasons that she gives in her posts: I don’t want to scare people away with swearing. But maybe the people I want to attract to my blog want swearing? I had never really considered it. I suppose I shouldn’t be afraid to swear on this blog, seeing as other content on my blog is clearly not child-friendly (even my Sailor Moon content is riddled with adult jokes, boobs, and sex).
This post, here, I thought was very helpful, though I really wish I would have read it a few months ago. It is “4 Myths About Starting Your IttyBiz”. These are the myths, but you will have to go read Naomi’s article in order to fully understand what they mean. (Note: only the bold text is taken from IttyBiz, the regular text is my own commentary)
Myth #1: You have to know who your target market is.
I frequently read this as “advice” on many other sites, and it was an aspect of my business that I really hit a wall with. How was I supposed to know who my target market was before I was even launched? Should I be picking a target market then making things based on that? (I really hated that idea a lot). Eventually, I just decided to drop trying to figure out who my target market was, and just settled on it being everyone (with the exclusion of babies). Wait, why no babies? Because I make collectibles, and not chew toys, children can have plushies I make assuming that the child is smart/ old enough to not want to eat the plushie’s eye balls.
Myth #2: You have to know how to price yourself.
I still don’t know how to price myself, and I think that is okay.
Myth #3: You have to have a ridiculous goal.
I certainly do not think that my goals are ridiculous, and if anything, they are very humble. My main goal with my business is to be able to go down to one shift a week at my “day job” of waitress-ing, and be able to pay most of the bills with my business. I’m hoping that once I get going with that, I will be able to maintain that until Jerry and I move to Toronto. Toronto on the other hand, is a whole other set of goals and dreams.
Myth #4: You can wing it.
I think that main point of this “myth” was that it is best to *not* learn things the hard way… with everything anyways.
I think that the best/ most important part of that post is that with a small business you actually have to START. Just sitting around, reading blogs, and what not, is not the best use of your time, especially if you should be using that time to produce and create. I admit that this is something that I am still working on. I get caught up in looking at other people’s stores, blogs, sites, forums…. that I sometimes waste a lot of time doing nothing. Not that those internet-y things are not beneficial (and still an important aspect to a home business of this sort), but it shouldn’t take up the biggest chunk of your day. I’ve recently started limiting my internet use, and I still go over a little bit.
Since my decreased internet use, I have been incredibly productive. My crafting room is back in order, and the house over-all is tidy. I even organized all of my finished products and made what I am lovingly calling my “Roller Store” (see, because its on wheels, get it?). Well, I love it. It makes it really easy for me to see how much I have made, plus if I have anyone come over to buy anything they can clearly see everything. (I stupidly took pictures with everything close up, maybe I will have another update of the Roller Store with it looking all pretty with signs and everything in proper display, which only takes me about 5 minutes to set up).
I have been productive online though, I have a listing ready to go up on Etsy, and am planning on making another one later today (my action plan is make one a day until Friday or Saturday when I will post all of them, so exciting!).
But, if you are starting a small business, or thinking about it, IttyBiz is a great site for tips, techniques and motivation. I signed up for e-mail updates (a good way to save some internet time *wink wink*), and look forward to reading from Naomi in the future.