I’m switching it up a bit here at I Have Purple Hair, I wanted to give a little more stability to the place and give you all a bit of a schedule of what to look forward to. So, every Tuesday, I’m comin’ atcha with sewing reviews, ideas, and tutorials. Then, every Friday, I’ll be here handing out small business advice and tips to get you started (or keep going) on your awesome creative endeavor. And every once in awhile, I’ll sprinkle in some extras. How cool is that? So let’s get started!

So, you wanna start a small creative business?

Seeing as it’s Friday AND it’s first of the month (wake up, wake up, wake up…), what a perfect day to kick off the series, huh? In case everything in my life wasn’t crazy enough, I’ve decided to launch my own craft inspired t-shirt company called Handmade Rebellion, and thought you guys might be interested in how a small business is started. 

In the midst of a cross country move, maintaining my other business, Spry Sprout, and balancing two small children, a part time job, and this blog, it can all get a bit overwhelming. Why am I telling you all this? Because, in my experience, it’s never really a good time to start a business; there’s always something – LIFE – that makes it easy to step back and put the brakes on ever starting. 

Of course there are ways to set your creative business on the right path and this is a very basic outline to get you started, but it’s good to have an outline of your expectations. If you’re truly interested in creating a handmade business that makes you money, there are a few things you NEED to be honest with yourself about.

The beginning of a website
The beginning of a website

What are your goals?

If your goal is to just make a few things as a side project and hope they sell, then just know that it won’t grow very big. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But this is not the article for you. If you’re looking to make a living, or at least a supplemental income, then read on! 

It’s best to have a general idea of where you want your business to go. Those age-old, cliched questions of, “Where do you see your business in 3 months? 6 months? One year?” are good stepping stones to really understanding what directions to take with your shop. 

For example, with Handmade Rebellion, I saw a gap in the market for subversive, unique maker t-shirts. So I decided to fill that gap. My one month goals for that company is to consistently be coming out with new designs (at least, 3-5 every month), promote using minimal monetary advertising (for now), and to sell 5 shirts in my first month (fingers crossed!), increasing by 5 shirts every subsequent month. 

If in three months, I hit those goals, great! That means I can set higher ones. If I miss them, that’s ok too, I just need to reevaluate what went wrong in my strategy and adjust. Just because you don’t sell anything doesn’t automatically make you a failure, in fact, you’re never a failure for trying something new. It’s just another opportunity to grow! 

But having a baseline is imperative for scaling and realizing your dreams for your business. How do you know you’ve developed any if you have nothing to compare it to? 

Working on my website into the wee hours with a baby on me. You gotta do what you gotta do...
Working on my website into the wee hours with a baby on me. You gotta do what you gotta do…

Do you have the time it takes to make it happen?

I wish someone had told me in the wee early stages of Spry Sprout that having a small business is a LOT of work. It’s not really that hard, it’s just that there’s a LOT of it to do. A LOT.

If you can commit to at least an hour a day outside of your craft to maintaining your listings, taking product photography, creating content for your blog, answering e-mails, running promotions, posting to social media… and on and on, you are setting yourself up for a great beginning. 

Referring back to Handmade Rebellion, I feel like my goals are manageable without being foolhardy. It’s entirely possible to achieve them if I work at it. Sure, I could probably sell 50 shirts – or 500 – but I don’t have the time or money right now to invest in making that goal happen. So instead of setting myself up for failure, I made a feasible target. 

Just like anything, your business will flourish the more time you put into it to cultivate it. But BE REALISTIC. If you can’t commit to an hour everyday, by no means should you not start your own business, just things will move a little more slowly. It really is a ratio game: the more time you devote, the more quickly things start to happen. 

But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. It’s super easy to be so excited and to DO ALL THE THINGS! But that, my friend, is a recipe for a quick burnout. So pace yourself, take it slow to really ABSORB all the new information you’re learning. It’s actually pretty fun and interesting. That hour a day doesn’t mean you’re constantly in motion either, it could just be reading a few articles before bed. As long as you’re committed to your business and doing things toward bettering it, you’ll be fine. 

Next week…

Thanks so much for reading! Next week, we tackle “The What-ifs?”, the doubts, and the pitfalls of starting your own creative business. In the meantime, it would mean the WORLD to me if you checked out Handmade Rebellion and let me know what you think? Plus, get 15% off your order using coupon code “READYSETLAUNCH” through the 4th of July. You’re a peach!

Starting a new biz? Got questions? Post ’em below for some more insight!

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3 Comments on "How an E-Commerce Business is Born… And How to Take the Leap and Start Your Own!"

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Jennifer Fulton
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Such a great post Miranda! Thanks so much for sharing your know-how.

patternsbyjen@gmail.com
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Great article, Miranda! I write "DO THE WORK" at the top of each new month in my planner. Growing a business doesn’t happen overnight, but with goals written down to look back at and work towards, it is definitely doable.

ihavereallypurplehair@gmail.com
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I love your mantra, Jen! Building a business takes time and courage. Keep going!

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