Want to know one of the best feelings in the world? It’s when people love what you make and are excited to give you money for it! As a creative, I KNOW your mind is constantly churning out new ideas and designs, after all, that's where your passion lies! You probably have notebooks FULL of projects you want to get started on and new products you want to bring to market. Here’s where it can get a little tricky. As a small business and creative you need to find the balance between what YOU love and what the market is asking for. Sometimes we swing for the fences and have a major home run on our hands while other times, the product we think is going to be the hottest seller falls flat. As a designer, it’s really difficult a to separate what you WANT to make and what you know will sell. I’m willing to bet that as you read this a few “trends” pop into your mind that you’ve seen everywhere. Those designs and styles that clients and customers are constantly asking for but you’re so freakin tired of creating.
It’s so important to take the time to validate your new ideas and products in the marketplace. While kind words and support from family and friends is amazing, you need to test the waters to see how total strangers feel about your product. This step is especially important when you’re just getting started. As your business becomes more established you’ll be able to use the selling information from retail stores and feedback from customers to learn what the market is asking for and develop designs and collections that complement customers needs and wants.
Validating your idea doesn’t have to be difficult. While it’s an important step in the process none of us have a crystal ball so I don’t recommend spending a ton of time or money to do it. It only requires a little number crunching and a little reflection. Ready to see if your next idea or product is profitable? Here are my three favorite ways to see where you stand.
Ask yourself, does it solve a problem?
How does your product help people? Does it bring a little joy to their day in the form of a card, a little beauty to their wall in the form of artwork? Does it help someone organize their life or make a task easier? The problem your product helps to solve doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, it just has to meet a need.
Is there a demand?
As creatives, we naturally want to make the world a prettier place. For so many of us, getting paid to make and create is the icing on the cake. To be financially successful people have to want what you’re making. To do this, you need to test the marketplace. This can mean selling on a third party website (like Etsy) your own website, or setting up a booth at your local craft fair or farmer’s market to not only see if people will buy but what they want. I can’t tell you how many times both my buyer and I have LOVED a product that didn’t end up performing to expectations at retail.What are the costs involved?
You know how much I love to crunch those numbers! To keep your business in the black and in a position to grow you need to be profitable and that means making more than you spend. Costs are much more than materials, it’s time spent to produce the product (which may be time away from family), marketing fees, shipping, packaging etc. Really crunch the numbers to make sure you won’t lose money. Need a little help figuring them out? Grab a copy of my free pricing workbook here.
Now, let’s take this process a step further. I want you to take everything you’ve determined from the above three action items and outline your goals. Planning generates profits, and now that you know which of your products are in the best position to bring in the dough I want you to create a plan to make it happen!
Set your sales goals
When you’re just starting out getting your first sale or wholesale order is LIFECHANGING. It gives you the validation to keep pushing forward on those days when your dreams feel so far from reach. I’ve always been a go big or go home kind of girl so sales projections are my BFF. Sales projections are a great way to streamline your focus and really break down what you need to make and sell in order to stay in business. Projecting may seem like a waste of time (again, nobody has a crystal ball!) but giving yourself a monthly target to hit and breaking that target down into actionable steps will put you in a better position to achieve your goals.
Want some help setting your own sales goals? Let's work together! I'll help you develop your strategy, set your goals and provide a pretty sweet template for you to use that will save you TONS of time! Schedule a FREE discovery call to learn more!