Advice and support for craft sellers
Where can you go if you need mentoring or support for your creative business? What help is available and how can you find creative communities willing to guide you on your way? Helen Bottrill from The Creative Business Network signposts places you can go to get extra support…
One of the hardest things about running your own business is that you’re doing it on your own. There’s no business partner to share ideas with, no team to turn to when things don’t go according to plan. There are many benefits to this, of course. You get to make all the decisions, you don’t have to answer to anyone and you have the option to work in your pyjamas all day long, plus you don’t have to share the cake!
But what happens when you’re stuck? When you feel low, unmotivated and without direction? What do you do when you have no idea about Twitter? When you know you need to be sending newsletters but don’t know where to start? When your bookkeeping folder is, in fact, a box of random receipts and you have no idea what to do with them? I suspect this sounds familiar to some of you? A lack of knowledge or understanding about certain elements of your business will, in turn, lead to lack of confidence, and it may be harder to then look for the support you need to build your business knowledge.
The online world is a highly educational one. By searching on Pinterest, for example, you can find a whole host of articles about Creative Business Support – each and every one full of incredibly useful information. There’s no limit to what you can access online with regards to how to build your business. From SEO to bookkeeping, from digital marketing to pricing, and from PR to craft fairs. Everything you could possibly need is out there, so in theory, business-wise, you’re covered.
However, you may not learn that way, and may prefer to access support by speaking to an actual human. Where do you go then?
Where to get business advice in person
Searching free business workshops in your local area should hopefully bring up some good options. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start to see what training or workshops they have to offer. http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/business/
Check out your local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). They will have a growth hub that you can access. Visit this page and click on the map to find the one closest to you and give them a call > https://www.lepnetwork.net/growth-hubs/
If you suit the demographic, The Prince’s Trust have a lot of support available too https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/who-else/business-advice
With regards to online training, there’s so much out there that it’s hard to choose a particular one but a good place to start as any is Skillshare. https://www.skillshare.com
For all things legal and tax-related look at gov.uk. You’ll have an account from when you registered your business, so it’s worthwhile accessing their blogs and news articles to find out what you need to know from a tax perspective. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs
There are many other online training courses that you can access. Again, Pinterest will be your best friend here. But these organisations aren’t focused on creative businesses, and sometimes it’s good to surround yourself with other creatives who you can relate to more than other businesses.
Where to find support online for your creative business
There are a few amazing websites that support creative businesses – obviously I am going to recommend The Creative Business Network but aside from us, there are other incredible sites of support.
The Design Trust has pretty much everything you need to help you in the growth of your business. From hugely comprehensive blog posts, to book recommendations and online training, this is one site that you can’t overlook. http://www.thedesigntrust.co.uk
Other sites I am really happy to recommend and suggest you take a look through are:
Where to talk, network and find your tribe
The support for creative businesses is growing, and the resources you can now access online are invaluable. But how about your personal, and well-being support? Do you have access to a network of other makers? Do you have family or friends you can turn to, to ask questions or advice? One of the most important forms of support you need when running your own creative business (or any business) is that of emotional and physical support. Sometimes, the only thing that can help is having a rant over a cuppa, or asking a question on a forum and being rewarded with a number of empathic answers. If you have a physical or a virtual network, you’re in luck! But what about if you haven’t found one yet?
When I was running my own online textile business Kindred Rose, one of the highlights of my week (or month – depending on how busy I was!) were the cups of tea and chats with others doing the same as me. I felt less isolated after spending time with other business owners. I was able to share things that were troubling me, or ideas I’d had but wasn’t sure whether to give a go. Having that personal support network was one of the most valuable things in my work. I can’t overstate the importance of my online network of friends too; other creative business owners who were there when I needed them and I was for them too. Instead of feeling like I was doing it all on my own, I felt like I had a team who had my back.
So where do you go to find this kind of support?
Folksy Hour is a brilliant place to start – join in and you’ll find other creative businesses all chatting, engaging and sharing with each other. It’s a brilliant creative network.
Other hashtag hours and Instagram campaigns like #marchmeetthemaker
By utilising hashtag hours on Twitter, groups on Facebook and hashtag campaigns on Instagram, you can really start to build up your creative online community. If the members live close, you can even start to organise meet-ups. You may have a good idea of venues within your area to target that may already host networking events or coffee mornings. Whether it’s an art gallery, community centre or arts café, try to find out what events they run. Be brave and go along! Remember, everyone else is in the same position as you. We’re all scared in the beginning, but the more we put ourselves out there, the more we grow and learn. The more confident we then become which enables us to build our business more successfully.
The Folksy sellers forum is a great resource. You can ask questions or search all the topics to see if your question has already been answered before. There is also a private area just for sellers if you don’t want your discussion to be accessible on visible to anyone outside the Folksy community > https://talk.folksy.com
If you feel you need further help and support, then it may be worth getting a mentor. This is a bigger financial investment but can really help you focus on your business and help you become accountable. Mentors can help give you direction and make you see things from a different perspective. You also feel like you have a partner helping you along – but you may have to share the cake!
Whatever support it is that you need, there will be someone or somewhere you can access it – so you don’t need to do any of it on your own. Give us a call if you need to, it would be great to hear from you!
More help and support for sellers:
You’ll find loads more advice in the Seller Tips section of this blog. It’s really comprehensive and covers so much business information from a creative perspective:
Find all the Seller Tips here > http://blog.folksy.com/category/seller-tips
Some great resources available here:
Check out these Pinterest boards for some really useful business advice:
Hilary Pullen has written a brilliant book about online marketing your craft business – Online Marketing for your Craft Business
Another useful book about selling your handmade work is The Handmade Marketplace
If you need technical support, you’ll find loads of information and FAQs on the Folksy Knowledge Base where you can also contact the Folksy Support Team > https://folksy.uservoice.com/
Helen Bottrill is the founder of The Creative Business Network. The Creative Business Network is passionate about providing support and will try to help you as much as possible. It was born from an idea of getting together with the aim of sharing: sharing ideas, problems, knowledge, successes, and obviously some tea and cake chucked in there too! As well as one-to-one mentoring, The Creative Business Network offer memberships, which is a cost-effective way of getting monthly support, and also runs events to bring together like-minded creative business owners. Follow @TheCBNTeam on Twitter