Most new home businesses fail. Fact of the matter, most people either don’t have what it takes, or find out that it was not at all what they were expecting. It takes certain qualities and a love for what you are doing to be able to have the tenacity to succeed, and that’s why I’m writing this article for you. I have done it, and I have failed- then succeeded! I know the reasons why business owners quit or fail. Do you think you have what it takes? More specifically, are you cut out to run an Etsy shop?
I’ve been running a successful handmade business for a little over a year now, and I have learned a lot. I have been at the highest highs, and the lowest lows wanting to quit. I’ve learned how to change myself and my habits, so that I can have what it takes to keep pushing forward. I do this because I want to, and I need to. My business has helped me tremendously with paying bills, and just having some extra spending money. In order to be fully transparent, my level of “success” is that I work on my business very part time, and I pull in a nice profit each month. I do not do this full time, and I don’t know yet if I plan to try do it full time in the future. Whether you want a full time income, or a part time side gig, this will help you determine if you have what it takes.
Do you have a product or service to sell?
This is the first and most obvious question. Most people considering opening an Etsy shop already have something in mind, but you have to have a solid product or service narrowed down before you can publish your first listing. What do you have that others may want? More importantly, are you going to be willing to make countless supplies of your product for potential customers?
How do you stand out from the rest?
Etsy is full of shops run by people just like you. It can be very hard to stand out from the rest, and many are almost exactly the same. That’s kind of an issue when you are first getting started, because you obviously want your shop to get seen by potential customers. You need to find a way to stand out. Maybe your product is very unique, or you take excellent pictures of your product. These are good steps, but when I started out I was subpar at taking pictures, and my product was not that unique. Now I have more unique products, but at the beginning I stood out with my pricing. Other shops were so overpriced that I would’ve felt like I was robbing people with that profit margin.
My first suggestion is to go on Etsy, and search for what you will be selling. This is your competition. How are you different from them? I’m not saying there’s no room for more than 1 similar shop, but when you are starting out it can be hard to get your listings seen. Many people go months without seeing an order, and get discouraged and quit. Stand out; find a way for your shop to be different and you will have a better shot. Don’t lowball yourself and give away the farm for next to nothing, however. That won’t make you many fellow Etsy-shop-owner friends, and it will give the wrong impression to buyers. You don’t want them seeing your product as cheap and chintzy.
Do you have an established following?
This is a huge part of what I credit my fast Etsy success to. I had a following already through Facebook, that I carried over to Etsy. My first 6 months in business I was selling things through Facebook alone before I decided to add Etsy as well. I had about 2,000 likes on my Facebook page, and was doing quite well. I made my first 2 sales on Etsy the first day I opened shop, and that is solely because I already had a following on Facebook. It really helped my credibility on Etsy by having sales and good reviews so early on. My Facebook followers were happy to have an easier ordering system rather than just messaging me on Facebook, so it was a win-win for everyone. Don’t be scared to start sharing your stuff on social media at first to test the waters and see what kind of a reaction you get.
Are you flaky?
Be honest here, do you tend to be flaky or fall through on plans you made? This kind of business is not for you if you are. Honestly, I’ve been surrounded by flaky people my whole life and it’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Because of that I have always made sure to stick to my word and do what I say I will do (unless something unavoidable happens and I can’t follow through). When people are spending their hard earned money on your product, you have to do what it takes to get their order completed and sent to them in a timely manner. This often means working when you really don’t want to.
If you enjoy your freedom, and like having a set schedule, this might not be for you. I have worked many nights until 1-2 AM when I had to work the next morning, because I had promised customers their order would be finished.
Are you good at responding to messages?
The most time consuming part of my business is the back and forth of messages between my customers and I. This is also a huge factor on whether they will give you a great review or not. Customers like communication. They like to know exactly what the status of their order is, and you can’t blame them for that. Getting new or custom things is exciting, and that should be seen as a compliment to you and your work.
I haven’t always been good at messaging. There were times I would read a message and forget to respond. This is no bueno. Do not make your customers feel neglected. This was another part of myself I had to change in order to succeed, and it was worth it.
Would you do your work for free?
This is a good test to see if you are cut out for running your business long-term. Of course no one wants to work for free, but would you? Do you love what you are doing enough that you would still be doing it if you weren’t being paid? For me, I would. In fact I do, all the time. Sewing is my favorite past time, and when I’m not doing it to fulfill orders, I’m sewing for fun, for me or someone else.
No matter what you are doing, you most likely will experience burnout at one point or another. Around the holiday rush, sewing was becoming less and less “fun,” and I wasn’t seeing it as enjoyable anymore. Still, I pushed through and made it to the other side of Christmas, and carried on. Luckily after that craziness things settled down and it became fun again. If you don’t like what you are doing that much in the first place, I don’t think you’ll last when things get busy.
There’s no real way to predict the future, and success looks different for everyone. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t think you have what it takes. I didn’t when I started, but as long as you keep adapting and improving, you will do great! It can be a long journey that may not pay off for a while, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a fun and exciting journey.