How To Start A Craft Business – Simplified Into 10 Steps. 

Crop anonymous female florist in light green apron standing with aromatic lily and tender pink tulips bouquet arranged in wicker basket in sunny floral shop

Starting your own successful craft business is a multi-faceted process – creating a business plan, understanding your product and target customer and creating your online presence. We’re going to break down each of these into their smaller parts, starting with creating a business plan – here’s your ultimate guide! 

A business selling art online can take various forms, depending on factors such as the type of product being sold, the target audience, and the business model. The first thing that you need to fully research and understand is creating a business plan. 

What is a Business Plan? Here Are The Important Things To Keep In Mind. 

A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the goals, strategies, operations, and financial projections of a business. It serves as a roadmap for entrepreneurs and any stakeholders or investors you might have, providing a detailed overview of how the business will be structured and managed to achieve its objectives.

Depending on your specific business, you may or may not have all the following but you should have the majority. Think of this as more for YOU, rather than a presentation for someone else. It’s being honest with yourself. 

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Create A Business Plan

  1. Executive Summary: A concise overview of the business idea, its objectives, and the key highlights of the plan. This section is usually written last after you’ve defined everything else, but appears first in your plan. 
  2. Business Description: Detailed information about the nature of the business, its industry, the kind of products or services offered, target market, and competitive advantage. Here’s where you need to do a bit of research. Start by really diving deep into the industry you’re carving into.
  3. Market Analysis: Research and analysis of the target customers and market, including its size, growth trends, demographics, buying behaviour, and competitors. Get REALLY specific, making sure you’re targeting the customer you want and need.
  4. Organization and Management: Maybe you’re not quite there yet, that’s ok. But in general terms this would be a description of the business’s organizational structure, ownership, management team, and key personnel if you have them. You can also use this section to outline the roles and responsibilities of each team member and their qualifications if you choose to share them with the public. 
  5. Products or Services: Detailed descriptions of the products or services offered by your business, including features, benefits, pricing, and any unique selling propositions you might have. 
  6. Marketing and Sales Strategy: A marketing plan, of sorts. This includes strategies for reaching and attracting customers, including marketing channels, promotional activities, advertising strategies, sales tactics, and customer acquisition methods. All the good stuff! 
  7. Financial Projections: This might be tricky but do your best to come up with a conservative, reasonable and optimistic forecast for what your business will make in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years… Outline your costs versus what you need to make to breakeven and then, make a profit. What are your profit margins for each product? Is it realistic to sell X units in order to breakeven? How long will that take? And when will you start to see a profit? You can also include how many hours various products and services take, so that you can determine what your cost per hour or cost per unit is. These projections don’t need to be overly complex, but you should have a general idea of how much you need to work and sell in order to break-even and make a profit. And the good news is, when you outline these things from the onset, you’re much more likely to succeed!

    For example, if you need to sell 1000 prints every month in your first year in order to cover your businesses expenses then something isn’t quite right in your business plan. 
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Do I Need A Business Plan?

Yes, you need a business plan. The most important reason to have a business plan is that it will force you to clearly define your business goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving them. It will also allow you to find holes in your strategy (if they exist) so that you can repair them BEFORE starting. 

You need to understand the objective in order to work backwards and set limits and goals. If you don’t know what you’re working towards, how do you know if it’s working or not? 

One of the best gifts that a business plan gives you is the ability to think critically. We all start off loving our businesses and working as hard as we possibly can to get it going – its that passion that builds the momentum and that’s great. But, once you’re up and running, you need to have markers along the way that ground you back down in your business and give you the clarify to study, test and pivot if you need to and make sure you’re reaching your goals. 

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How To Start A Craft Business – Simplified Into 10 Steps.

Here’s a general overview of what your business might entail if you want to start a craft business selling online. 

Business Entity: How to decide to name and register your business. Depending on the nature of your craft, you may want to consider registering. More on that below if you’re confusing on how to work through all of this legal stuff! 

E-commerce Platform, Product Listings and Photography: The primary aspect of the business is its presence on an e-commerce platform, such as Etsy, Shopify, Amazon Handmade, or what we recommend, a standalone website. This platform serves as the storefront where customers can browse, purchase, and commission from you. Each craft product would have its own product listing on the e-commerce platform. This listing typically includes high-quality, good photos of the item from different angles, a detailed description (including dimensions, materials used, and artistic inspiration), pricing information, and any relevant shipping details. 

Payment Processing: Cart and Checkout, friends! The business needs a secure and reliable payment processing system to accept payments from your customers. This could involve integrating with popular payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or Square and making sure that your checkout process is working well in your online shop. 

Shipping and Fulfillment: Once an order is placed, your business is responsible for packaging the sold goods securely and arranging for its shipment to the customer’s address. This may involve working with shipping carriers like UPS, FedEx, or USPS, as well as handling any customs or international shipping requirements for international orders.

Customer Feedback and Reviews: Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and feedback can help build credibility and attract new customers. Conversely, addressing any negative feedback or complaints promptly and professionally is essential for maintaining a positive reputation.

Customer Service: Providing excellent customer service is crucial for building trust and loyalty. This includes promptly responding to inquiries, addressing any issues or concerns, processing orders efficiently, and ensuring a smooth shipping and delivery process. Make sure that your customers are always completely satisfied with their purchase, communicating regularly with them until their item arrives. 

Marketing and Promotion: To attract customers and drive sales, the business needs to engage in various marketing and promotional activities. This involves social media marketing, email campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, collaborations with influencers or other businesses, participation in art fairs or exhibitions, and more.

Email Newsletter: We see this step often skipped but it’s the most important element of your business right after your website. This is where you connect, build and share with those who have chosen to receive updates from you. Focusing on your email newsletter will help you build an authentic and robust business that has a genuine following, giving you direct access to your potential customers in a way that no other platform can repeat. 

Collaborations and Partnerships: The business would collaborate with other artists to source a diverse range of craft products. This could include paintings, ceramics, sculptures, digital art, photography, prints, embroidery and so much more. The intention here is to build and expand your community and work with other artists to reach a larger audience. It’s about finding something that will help you both.

Continuous Improvement: Finally, a successful business would continuously strive to improve its offerings, customer experience, and overall operations. This might involve expanding the range of products available, optimizing the website for and even better user experience, experimenting with new marketing strategies, or implementing feedback from customers and collaborators.

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Do I Need to Register My Business?

Whether you need to register your business depends on several factors, including the legal structure of your business, your location, and the nature of what you’re selling or your services. Here are some general guidelines:

If you’re operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership and using your own name as the business name (e.g., Emily Meading’s Photography), you may not need to register your business. However, if you choose to operate under a different name (a “doing business as” or DBA name), you’ll likely need to register it with your local government. 

If you’re forming a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or other formal business entity, you’ll typically need to register your business with the appropriate state or provincial government.

Registering your business may also be necessary for tax purposes. It allows you to obtain a tax identification number and fulfill your tax obligations, such as collecting and remitting sales tax, paying income tax, and filing tax returns. In Canada for example, businesses that make less than 30K per year have different tax requirements and you may not need to register or file if you’re not charging tax on your products. In the US, each state has different definitions and requirments for small seller businesses. 

The best thing to do is to consult with a tax professional or accountant familiar with provincial or state sales tax laws can help ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website provides resources and guidance on GST/HST registration and compliance. And if you’re in the US, state revenue departments often provide guidance and resources for businesses regarding sales tax obligations.

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Where Should I Sell? – Craft Business Opportunities

This is where things get fun, because it’s really up to you! As for what options are available – own website with your own online store, online marketplace sites like Etsy, Society6, Amazon Handmade and others, craft fairs, craft stores, retailers, wholesale, collaborations… 

Where you sell is largely dependent on what you’re selling and how you want to market your product. Say you’re pitching a high-end, one of a kind shopping experience. You probably want to stay away from Amazon Handmade, for example. But for others, this might be the perfect vehicle to sell in larger quantities. You want to align your product and it’s branding with the placement. Pick retailers and online marketplaces that reflect the message of the business. 

You should also consider what time commitment you’re able to dedicate (and this should already be in your business plan). If you’re treating this business as your full-time job than the distribution of your products might vary, as your availability may be different from someone who only has evenings and weekends! 

The truth is that the way to a successful online craft business is being honest about what you’re able to do in the time you have, your own schedule and starting on the right foot with your business plan. Then match your services to that, rather than trying to do more than you can and burning out or failing because you weren’t clear about your realistic goals. 

The beautiful thing about owning your own handmade craft business is that you have full decision making power and the work you put in is what you get out of it. If you need some help getting started and want to have a chat about our consulting and design services, feel free to reachout here and schedule a 30 min strategy call! We can review your business plan and come up with some next steps that you can do on your own or with the help of The Good Canvas. 

And on that note, creating powerful and beautiful websites is what we love to do so if you’re at a point where you want some help or need to get things optimized better, check out our services page to see how we can help you!

If you’re struggling with any of this and how to start your business, I’d love to chat with you. I offer a complimentary 30 min strategy call to help you with anything you’re curious about and different ways to grow your business online. You can book a call here.

We design websites that work for you while you’re busy doing what you love. 

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