Free things you can do for your business...

Running a craft, handmade or independent business is full of challenges and some of the top problems we we face are:

Budget and income:  Making enough money to make a living, whilst still growing and developing your business.

Time & the lack thereof:  As one person what and how much can you take on while still having a balance and managing expectations?  We hold back on doing certain things because we think we don’t have time, but in turn our business suffers and sometimes we are none the wiser to missed opportunities.

Here are five things that take minimal time and no budget that can really help grow and improve your business:  No more excuses!

Online Presence:  
We Google things and want online contact with people all the time!  If you can’t afford a website or blog – make use of Facebook.  It is free, millions of people use it and it needs little to no design skills.  Facebook is useful as you can have product pictures, contact details, an about section and people can make instant contact.  Until you have evolved to the next step of a blog or website use your Facebook page constructively.  Have all the necessary details listed.  I so often need to get hold of people and their info is out of date or there is no information at all.  Keep it current and updated.

Professional Tone, Grammar & Spelling:  
You need to use a professional tone, whilst still being true to your own voice.

> Remember the basics of good grammar and punctuation.
> Use capital letters for proper nouns (name of people, places etc.)
> Check your spelling.

Take Better Photos:
You might not have a state of the art camera and that is okay!  Good lighting and a clean background will do wonders for your shots.   White cardboard which is easily available from craft shops is ideal as either a background or reflector.  Create a small shoot area and move it around to find the best light.  Direct sun is not always good rather try to be in a space with good natural light.  Test your shots and styling for the best results. 

Make Lists:  
I often hear things like ‘I am not a list person’.  Trust me you need to become one.  Unless you have the most amazing memory you will never remember everything that needs doing.  Keep a dedicated notebook or online / digital list to keep track of things.  Five notebooks with 50 different lists in are just as bad as no lists at all.  For my personal life and different accepts of my business I have separate lists which I actually run off one central Excel document.  The lists are broad and even include things that I know I won’t get to this year, but I have a tab for that called Goals.  When I have a gap I look at my goals and see which one I can take on next.  I then make small daily lists in a dedicated notebook and divide it into personal, work and emails.   My listing helps me to know what I need to do and it also frees up brain space in order to think ahead.  It means I don’t forget that I promised certain people certain things.  So if I can’t get to it all I can at least tell them that I will be in touch and that I won’t forget about them.  My life is by no means perfect, but I can get a great deal done in a day.  Listing will also allow you to keep track of orders and possible deliveries. 

 *These might get you inspired for list making - lovely notebooks from Typo.

Customer Service and Managing Expectations:  
It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, this essential.  If you commit to orders make sure you can deliver on your promise.  Set times and dates that are manageable.  This ties into your list making and planning.  In most cases people are happy to wait an extra day or two for something, but perhaps check when they need it by, is it a gift for a birthday or for themselves?  Email them in advance if there is a problem and offer a solution.  If you have done something wrong fix it or offer them something to say sorry like a discount, a small free item or even just a sincere apology.

I hope these help you to grow and ‘graduate’ to that next big thing like a website or professional photo shoot.  I offer assistance with websites, blogs, shoots, branding and have a dedicated and talented team to help prosper your business.  In the meantime get going and make the most of the tools you have!

Additional Resources:
PicMonkey:  A wonderful online (free) picuture editing service which also allows you design a Facebook Timeline banner.

The Etsy Seller Handbook:  Full of handy tips on being a seller, crafter and maker.