Guest post from Mandi of Most of the Mist
After reading Crystal’s new book, Money-Making Mom, I was reflecting on the reasons that one of my past money-making ventures had failed.
In early 2014, I had just quit my full-time job to stay home with my two girls. I was looking for ways to contribute to our household income from home. I decided to open an Etsy shop selling monogrammed and personalized gifts. In the six months my shop was open, I had plenty of sales but no profits.
So today, I wanted to share the lessons I learned for anyone who may be considering starting a business of their own:
1. My pricing was too low.
The competition was steep and I felt like I needed to have the lowest prices in order to give myself an edge. This was a mistake. While I did generate a number of orders, it was not profitable after factoring in the costs of commercial font licensing, materials and time.
The takeaway: Don’t aim to be the cheapest price out there. Focus on creating a quality product that will speak for itself.
2. My products were too varied.
I had no plan for what I was going to sell. I scoured local stores for products I wanted to offer. This resulted in random listings with limited inventory.
If something was popular (like personalized “Cookies for Santa” plates around Christmas), I did not have a way to restock before the demand had passed. I also had a negative experience ordering blanks from a company online that wound up being such poor quality that I could not sell them at all.
The takeaway: Know what you are going to offer and if possible, find a niche that you can specialize in.
3. I did not manage my time well.
At the time, my girls were four and one. There was little time to fill orders during the day, so I pushed myself to stay up until after midnight every night.
Instead of getting to work right away, I procrastinated by playing on social media or analyzing my shop stats. The lack of sleep eventually took its toll on me. I felt frazzled all the time.
The takeaway: Set “business hours” and stick to them. It may have to be in the early morning or during your child’s nap time. The important thing is to eliminate distractions and focus on the task at hand.
4. I was a perfectionist.
It has been said that perfectionism is the mother of procrastination. I agonized over every miniscule detail when filling orders. If something was a millimeter off-centered, I would scrap the whole thing and start again.
Likely, no one would have noticed but I felt so much pressure to get it exactly right. These were money-paying customers, after all! While striving for excellence is important, I lost a lot of time trying to achieve perfection.
The takeaway: Realize that no one is perfect, especially when it comes to creating handmade goods. Ensure that you are selling a quality product, but be realistic in your expectations.
5. It was not my passion.
As Crystal says in her book, “…only pick an idea that you have an enormous amount of passion for. Because there are going to be many days—especially in the early stages—when the work will feel exhausting, the hours will be long, and you will need to rely heavily on your passion to keep you going.”
While I was certainly capable of creating the products I sold, I did not enjoy it. Without the necessary passion to help me over the hurdles, I finally decided it was not worth the trouble.
The takeaway: Find something that ignites your passions and gives you the drive you’ll need to push forward when the going gets tough.
While I was not successful in that particular venture, I am thankful for the experience and the lessons learned from it.
If you are thinking of starting your own business, avoid these five mistakes and you will be well on your way to accomplishing your goals!
Mandi is a wife and homeschooling mom of two girls. She is passionate about simplifying life in order to make the most of the time we’re given. She shares encouragement and practical tips for purposeful living on her blog Most of the Mist.
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