Many people like to dream about starting a home craft business. The idea of leaving the 9-5 daily slug in the corporate world to stay at home a create things is incredibly alluring. However, there are many things you need to consider before starting a home craft business, because like any form of employment- it takes work to make it successful.
1. What is your experience with the craft?
I put this as number one because many people think they can decide to
create a craft business (or doll making business) and make a full time
income soon after starting- if not instantly.
True, some people have a natural gift and can earn substantial amounts of money relatively quickly. Sadly, for most of us this isn’t the case. Any kind of craft requires practice to become truly astute and this is especially the case for doll making- as it requires you to be able to plan, sculpt, paint and clothe the dolls.
Many doll makers attempt to sell their first creations; but this is normally to gather funds for more supplies rather than for starting a home craft business. Be prepared that any money you make in the beginning is to pay for the fact that you will need a lot of practice.
Do not think that starting a home craft business is any different to any other employment. A doctor may spend 10 years or more in University studies before he’s qualified to be employed as a doctor and earn that large pay packet. However, untrained workers often get put on minimum wage. Do not expect to earn large amounts of money for your crafts if your experience is next to nil. Instant highly paid artists are a rarity.
To help improve your skills, please see this down-to-earth article:
Do not let this get you down though; the practice is more often than not totally worth the time. Which brings me to my next point…
2. What income will sustain you while you are honing your skills in your craft?
Starting a home craft business requires time to learn to create your craft, market yourself, develop a client list and expand to the point where your crafts are self-supporting.
What income will support you during this time?
Are you able to work part-time or live off a spouse’s income during this transition period?
If you can’t afford to cut back on work, you need to realize that the time it takes to set your business up may take substantially longer as you will need to do it in your spare time. This means you may not have much time for rest if you want to get things going as fast as possible.
3. How is your health?
Many artists wind up starting a home craft business because physical or mental ailments do not allow them to work full time or even at all. However, there are some things you need to consider if this is the case.
Starting a home craft business does rule out problems with having to commute, dealing with problematic bosses and co-workers and the stress of being locked into certain work hours- regardless of how you are feeling. There still are many responsibilities of running a successful craft business however.
You are in charge of sourcing and buying supplies, creating stock, advertising and marketing, wages, insurance, superannuation, tax, following up on sales leads, completing sales to a professional standard and pushing the growth of your business. Anyone can earn money; anyone can make a sale, that’s relatively easy. But keeping it up on a regular basis to a standard that makes a successful craft business requires you to be organized, efficient and professional.
Until your health allows you to work at this standard, be prepared that your business may linger in the “hobbyist” bracket.
4. Have you decided what craft you want to specialize in?
The world of crafts is insatiably broad. You can create anything from dolls to jewelry to welcome signs. Have you done your research into what you truly enjoy creating?
To make starting your home craft business successful, you really need to narrow your focus and stick to one niche. This means that whatever you make, you need to be happy making for the long-haul.
Selling crafts is rarely successful without collectors; and
collectors rarely collect varying different themes and styles of art.
Chances are collectors will only have an interest in one niche, such as
only ceramics, or only dolls, or only miniatures or only jewelry. Most
of the time their tastes will be even more specific and they will only
like certain styles within that niche.
So without a certain craft to focus on, you really are limiting how much money and growth you can make as you will unlikely develop a collector base.
5. Have you really thought about WHY you want to start a craft business?
You may be fed up with working under a boss, your health may be failing or you may simply want to make a living doing what you love.
Whatever your reason, starting a craft business and making it successful can demand a lot of time and effort on your part. Yes, it can work out to be the most rewarding thing you have done with your life, but it is not for everyone.
Some people realize that the structure of working for a boss can take more stress off their lives than if they had to do everything themselves.
Some people find that they work much more efficiently on their own and that working under someone else’s instructions seems to hold them back.
However you like to work, starting a home craft business is not a decision to be taken lightly. If you woke up one morning a thought that creating dolls seemed like a good idea, try it just as a hobby first.
Too many people spend large amounts of money buying a lot of craft supplies, DVDs and tutorials just to find that they would much rather work in the corporate world than make a doll. Be sure it is what you want to do before you make any large commitments into making any single craft. This is why I don’t believe that beginner doll makers should have to purchase tutorials.
6. Will you ever be able to execute your craft to the standard needed to sell at high prices?
You need to be objective about this. Everyone can learn techniques, but not everyone is able to perform at the same level. Some people can have 30 years of experience in painting, but still cannot paint a replica of the Mona Lisa.
It is not always enough for you to like the concept of being able to do something. You need to actually be able to pull it off. This is where a lot of practice in your craft can come in handy.
You will need to practice in order to determine exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are. Be realistic though, don’t pick up some clay and sculpt for a week and expect to see instant progress. Give it a sufficient amount of time so you can tell if you simply need more training or if you simply can’t get the feel for it.
I personally find that sculpting comes very natural to me. I pick up clay and I have a sort of instinct as to what to do with it. Practice and training was (and still is) vital for my progress, but my skill level seemed to grow consistently. However, give me some pencils and tell me to draw a person and the task seems to be like climbing Mt Everest. I need to refer to mounds of drawing help books and even after lengths of study I still don’t know where to start. The whole process is frustrating and unpleasant for me. So I don’t kid myself and think that I’m going to become a master of graphite and make drawing my business because I would likely hate doing it day after day.
No one gathers the enthusiasm needed for starting a craft business in something they hate.
7. What is your competition in your niche?
What exactly are you up against?
Think about what crafts are out there, the standard they are being produced at and how much they are selling for.
Starting a home craft business requires some financial outlay. You need to buy supplies after all. But skill level aside, can you afford to meet your competition?
For example, there may be doll makers out there who are making amazing porcelain dolls and are getting tens of thousands of dollars for them. Think though, even after all the time it takes for you to reach the required skill level to make dolls to the same standard, can you afford the kiln, slip, moulds and even the time required to make them? On top of that, are you able to offer them at a competitive price after all your costs are factored in?
To make starting a home craft business a success, you need to be able to offer your work at competitive prices without cutting your profits. This often means you have to buy your supplies wholesale or direct from a manufacturer; which also means you have to buy in bulk. Can you afford the upfront costs of buying in bulk? If you can’t, you may need to rethink exactly what your business will revolve around so that your costs are lower.
Some cheaper ventures can always be grown into more expensive ones as the business grows. For example, polymer clay jewelry can always grow into glass jewelry, which in turn can be grown into precious jewelry.
Whatever the case may be, try to keep a consistent theme, style or niche so you don’t lose all your collectors.
8. What are the legalities where you live?
How much money are you allowed to earn before you pay tax? Are you able to deduct expenses from your business off any tax you owe?
If you are starting a home craft business, often you can claim a portion of your home expenses such as phone, internet, electricity and sometimes even your mortgage. However keep in mind there can be drawbacks.
If you treat your home as a business premises, often this means things like insurance policies change and can be more expensive and have to include third party insurance (if someone falls over and hurts themselves on your “business premises” your insurance has to cover it).
Be very weary before deciding to run a business from home.
If you love the idea of making crafts to sell, but don’t feel you’re ready for the business aspect, don’t be dismayed. You can still create your crafts for a tidy profit as a hobby.
In fact, in Australia, any money you make is classed as a hobby until you make over $6000. Until then you won’t need to pay tax or any of the other nasty things that businesses need to deal with (this is not intended as legal advice, please consult an agent before conducting business).
When you’re ready, give starting a home craft business venture a try. In my opinion, the positives of owning your own craft business drastically outweigh the negatives. Take the time to do your research and you may find that starting a home craft business is exactly the change you need in your life.