#2. Where can people find my product?
This question is really two-fold. Notice it’s not “where will I sell my stuff” but “where can people FIND my stuff”. It gets you to think about not just where you will literally sell your products, but where you will promote them and your brand as well.
Where will I sell my products?
There are so many places to sell your creative goods, both online and offline. When you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to test the waters in just one or two selling arenas so you can fully devote your energy to them. It takes time, energy, and patience to set up shop in each venue and determine if that venue is the right fit for your business.
For business plan purposes, feel free to list all the possible selling options you’d like to explore given the time, energy, and funds to expand. You can have some short-term “now” sales venues to focus on and master, and several “later” possibilities to explore down the road.
Just a few ideas of where to offer your products for sale…Etsy, Artfire, Ebay, your own website, local retail shops, craft fairs…the list is endless. Be adaptable and open-minded. And don’t be afraid to dream big or go “off-road”. When I began Lazy Owl Boutique, my only goal was to set up a successful shop on Etsy. By the end of the year, I thought I’d give a few local craft fairs a shot. A year later, I began selling in a local retail shop. It was never my goal or idea to take my business “offline”, but it just naturally evolved that way and I’m loving it. You’ll be surprised where this crafty path might lead you!
Where will I promote my brand and business?
The second interpretation of this question relates to where you will market your product. Where can people hear about your business and discover your product or brand? Where can you tell your story? Just like sales venues, there are countless options for marketing your creative business, both online and offline. These days online promotion isn’t just about Facebook and a blog. There’s also Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Wanelo, Tumblr, and many other possibilities. Pick a handful of outlets that you already feel comfortable with and fully immerse yourself into making them work for you. Don’t forget to think about any goals for offline promotion. Maybe you are interested in participating in local crafty meetups or writing articles for a craft magazine. Where you market yourself is also determined by where you can find your target customer, another business plan “bullet point” that we’ll discuss in a later article.
Again, you can have “now” and “later” columns for your promotional venues as well. Since your business plan is something you’ll keep on hand as your business grows and evolves, it’s also nice to refer to for new ideas and inspiration in the future. Once you’ve mastered one venue (or figured out it isn’t a good fit for you), you can look at your business plan and get ideas for the next tool you want to tackle. This bullet point will also serve as the foundation of your future marketing plan.
While thinking about both your selling and marketing venues, play to your strengths. Here are some examples:
- Are you great at chatting up strangers and closing a sale? Maybe craft shows are the best fit for you.
- Do you feel more comfortable behind a computer and take great photographs? Sounds like online selling via Etsy would work best.
- Are you a great writer? Make writing an article for a craft magazine one of your goals.
- Do you have a lot of connections in the local community? Selling in a local storefront or teaching crafting classes might be good options for you to network your business.
You only have so much time in each day to dedicate to your business. Focusing on your strengths and planning your business accordingly ensures that you are efficiently setting yourself up for success and using your precious time wisely.
That being said, don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and try something new! Challenging yourself as a business owner stretches you as an artist as well. I myself am an extreme introvert (surprise!). Selling at craft shows was not something I was comfortable doing at first (and I still consider myself a terrible saleswoman!), but stepping away from the computer and talking firsthand with my customers gave me the chance to see how people interact with my jewelry. That’s a very beneficial experience I can’t really get from selling only online. It’s important to step outside of your comfort zone every now and then to grow your business.
Question #2 encourages you to think about your goals for online and offline sales and promotion, whether for now or for in the future. Brainstorm all the possible ways people can hear about you and your shop, then decide what makes the most sense for you and include that in your business plan!
Over the next series of articles, we’ll discuss each of the W’s and H’s individually. Feel free to click here to download a pdf of the business plan questions.