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There’s no doubt that COVID completely upended our lives.

For many of us, two years of complete instability and constantly changing regulations radically changed our priorities, our perspective, and our goals. In 2021, more people Googled “how to start a business” than “how to find a job”. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.  

If you find yourself yearning to scratch that entrepreneurial itch, we get it. Running your own business is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Believe us- we know!  And our communities need self-starters, creative thinkers and dreamers. We’re nothing without the shop local movement, and that special spark only entrepreneurs can bring. 

However, turning a passion project into a thriving business is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication, sacrifice and consistent hard work. 

If you’re a budding entrepreneur who wants to make your side venture your main venture, we’ve compiled some pearls of wisdom from successful handmade business owners who know what it takes to build from the bottom up. 

HOW TO START A HANDMADE BUSINESS (and actually succeed)

Four Entrepreneurs Share Their Top Tips

1. Motivation doesn’t just happen. 

Maybe you’ve just started a business. You launch the website, start the Instagram feed, maybe sell a few products. You’re excited! 

But that honeymoon period won’t last long. At some point, you’ll have to dig deeper to find motivation to keep the momentum going. The kind of motivation that lasts requires intentionality and consistency.  

The greatest challenge of running a business is staying motivated”, says Diane from Little Monkey Designs. “When you run a business on your own, it can be very lonely. I plan and schedule my week so I know what I would like to complete. I schedule in time with people! I chat to other business owners via social media.” 

 

2. Connection is key.

 You’re not meant to go it alone.  “Build your community, your supporters, and your followers,” advises Karen from Urban Playground Designs. “They are your number one fans, your cheerleaders and this is the key for success. These are the people that will be cheering you on and routing for you, which is especially important during those moments of self doubt, when you feel like giving up. We all go through it and experience this, but your tribe will lift you up, and you will be so thankful for it.

 3. Embrace learning as you go.   

 Dreams aren’t just good ideas; they’re a projection of who you could become- if you are willing to put in the work. Simone from Coco and Rex shares her story:

 Almost immediately after we found out we were having a beautiful baby boy, we set out to find the most comfortable yet stylish apparel we could. We were totally surprised to find that it was almost impossible to find any quality and stylish clothing.  With no other options, something had to be done. So we did what any logical couple in this predicament would do: we bought a sewing machine.

 There was just one tiny problem getting in the way of our fashion dreams: I didn’t know how to sew!  Armed with a strip of fabric and some thread, we set off to work.  As each day passed, as Coco grew bit-by-bit, hundreds of hours were poured into mastering what would soon become our first product line.”

 Echoing the need to be flexible and grow with your business, Karen from Urban Playground says, “it does get a little easier, and better with time as you find your groove and learn strategies to manage time. But you need to accept the fact that things will NEVER go 100% as planned, and that’s okay.”

 

 4. Know when to build your team. 

 Growth is exciting – until it becomes overwhelming. Every trajectory of growth reaches a point of tension; either you carry on as is, and stop growing, or you invest in bringing others on board so that you can continue growing beyond that point. 

 Karen from Karamella Designs, shares, “the biggest challenge in growing my business is to balance working on orders and getting them out to eager clients, while also dedicating time to designing new pieces and staying ahead of the game. To help me overcome this challenge, I have finally convinced myself that I can’t do it all.  I have a team of four now that helps me with pricing, tagging and other various parts of the business that I used to spend way too much time on.

 

These business owners know what it takes. Their top piece of advice? Eyes on the prize, kids.

 

Karen from Karamella:  “Stay focussed. Don’t waste time looking and comparing yourself because time is valuable, time is money and time is something you can never get back. Spend your time growing your business look for ways to be unique to set you apart from everybody else and most of all have FUN!”  

Diane from Little Monkey Designs:  “Comparison is the thief of joy.  Set a goal and do what lights you on fire!”  

Simone from Coco and Rex:  “My best piece of advice for a new shop owner is as simple as this… Don’t give up on something you really want.”

Karen from Urban Playground: “The best piece of advice I can give a new shop owner is JUST GO FOR IT!  Life is too short to not follow your dreams, and you will be surprised what the future holds if you are committed, invested, and willing to put blood, sweat and tears into this.”

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