Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Madness - Helps for Small Businesses

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to be a small business in a crazy economy and a retail industry dominated by mega retailers like Walmart.  May 16-20 has been declared National Small Business Week by the President of the United States.  There are so many wonderful resources out there to help our small businesses. I've also learned that networking with other small business owners can help you avoid the pitfalls others have fallen into.  It's also helpful to connect with someone with more experience who is willing to mentor you during this adventure.

One thing that can be difficult for those of us selling online is that we're often our only employee and we just can't do it all.  How can you possibly generate creative ideas, make amazing products, create and manage a beautifully designed sales website or Etsy shop (not to mention a blog on top of it all), market/advertise/promote your business, and keep in contact with customers, etc.?  I have discovered some creative ways people have managed this chaos. 
  • Look for outside sources of help with designing your website or Etsy shop.  I have designed Etsy shop graphics for other shops in exchange for some free items from their shop.  You may have friends that have the necessary design talent or you may need to consider paying a designer.  It's definitely worth the expense to have memorable and professionally done graphics.  Unless you have some design skills, this is not a do-it-yourself project.
  • Hire someone to manage your Etsy shop listings if they are bogging you down. A friend of mine enjoys doing live sales events, but doesn't like managing her Etsy shop.  She hired someone to manage her Etsy shop for her. That person lists new products, renews them, and lets the shop owner know about orders to ship.  This is a service I will be offering soon (as soon as I get the terms of the agreement figured out).
  • Let your family help you. I have been blessed to have a husband who comes up with amazing creative ideas to help our business.  He sketches them out and I try to make them come to life.  Spouses and children can help with some of the things that don't require a certain expertise.  Have them cut things out, sort or assemble certain parts, assist with packaging, etc.  Imagine the time you would save if those little bits of help!  When I was in high school, I used to start sewing projects fully intending to wear the item the next day.  After staying up so late that I couldn't stop making mistakes, I would take a quick nap and wake up to find that my mom had finished the hem.  Her help made a huge difference.
  • Find online resources for making you look more professional.   For my day job, I get to use a service called Constant Contact.  It allows you to easily create very professional looking newsletters, invitations, and more to email to your customers.  You can try it free for 30 days and see how you like it.  Constant Contact also tracks who opens the email and which links they click on.  If you plan on regularly emailing customers about new items in your shop, a service like this is definitely the way to go.
These are just a few ideas, of course.  I often think that I can do it all myself, only to find myself sobbing and curled up in a corner because I end up running out of time and sanity.  Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.  Getting help where you need it will keep your business venture much more enjoyable and your brain relatively sane.

1 mad comments:

Jodi Lebrun said...

Really enjoy your site! I shared this post on my FB page:
http://www.facebook.com/handmadegoodness

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