Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You're the Boss: Part 1

I was recently asked by Gussy to write a guest post for her blog, which will be posted sometime in the next week while she is on vacation.
{So be looking for it.}

I decided to write about starting a successful home-based business.  When I started writing it, I realized that I had a lot to say {shocking, I know} and so I thought why not make this a series of postings on my own blog? 

So here it is... Part 1 of You're the Boss.

I can't remember how much I have shared with you about my business, and rather than scan through the last three months worth of postings, I'll just tell you again.  If you know this story {or if you don't really care} skip to the list of tips below.

Okay, so in 2007 I started my Event Planning and Custom Invitation business.  I was so excited to be running my own business, but Event Planning was hard and stressful, and not really consistent.

A few months into my business I went searching around town for a calendar because things were getting busy and I was feeling disorganized.  Being extremely particular about my calendar, I could not find exactly what I was looking for.  So I enlisted Nathan, the Excel Spreadsheet Master {really, we always joke that if there is ever a reality competition show for people who make Excel spreadsheets, Nathan will be the Tom Colicchio of the show} to make me a calendar.  Then I bound it, decorated it, added a family photo and some bling... and had my perfect calendar.

When my friends saw it, they wanted one.  Then their friends wanted one.

Pretty soon I was working full time to keep up with the demand of my calendar business.  What, you say?  Calendar business???  Yeah... it was a surprise to me too.  I also thought I was an Event Planner.

In the last two years {in the middle of an economic crisis in our country, mind you} I have sold close to 600 calendars out of my little home office, and have hired six of my friends to work with me.  Things are going well for Much Ado About You.

As much as I love the creative outlet that my business provides, I also really love the business of it all.  I enjoy strategizing about ways to streamline my process and grow my company.  I have learned a lot through trial and error and by picking the brains of other Small Business Owners that I admire and respect.

I love sharing my experience with friends that are trying to start new businesses, so I wanted to share with you all my
Top 10 Tips for Starting a 
Successful Home Based Business

I will share the whole list with you today, then share more details about each item over the course of this series.  
Fellow Business Owners, please feel free to comment and share your own experiences!

Sell a Product that you Love to Make
If sewing makes you want to throw your machine out the window, do not sell handmade quilts.

Be Concentrated
If you are serious about wanting a successful business and not just a hobby, pick just one or two products and make them the best version of those products that you can.

Make Sure the Price is Right
Price your products reasonably, but don’t undersell yourself!  Remember to account for your supplies and your time, and leave room to grow into paying for labor costs.  If you can’t do all this… you probably shouldn’t be selling that product.

Brand Yourself
No, don’t get a tattoo of your business name on your shoulder, but do create a logo that accurately represents yourself and your business. 

Be Creative with your Packaging
Make your customer feel like they are opening a gift when their order arrives.

Use Inexpensive Shop Hosting Services
Etsy and Big Cartel are two great shop hosting services that offer very reasonable rates.  Until you know that your business is profitable don’t waste any money building your own website.

Start a Blog
Blogs are another great {and free} alternative to a website, and a great way to get the word out about your business.  Update your blog frequently and it will be likely to show up at the top of web searches when people are looking for your types of products.

Be Organized
Organization with your supplies and products will make work much more enjoyable for you.
Organization with your invoicing and expenses will make work much more profitable for you.
Organization with your clients, like responding to emails in a timely manner and getting orders shipped quickly will make work much more marketable for you.

Take Advantage of FREE Marketing Opportunities
Social Networking sites are not only great for locating your long lost Kindergarten crush, but they have opened up the door to tremendous advertising opportunities for your home-based business.  Have a fan page for your business and post frequent updates about your shop.

Have Excellent Customer Service
Ultimately, the best free advertisement is a happy customer!  Go above and beyond to ensure that your customers will not only want to come back, but will also be sending their friends your way.  People that are willing to spend a little extra for handmade products expect a little extra service to go along with the price… give them more than they expect!

Check back in the coming days for even more 
details about each of these ideas!


  1. Thanks for the tips! Love it! ;)

  2. You're awesome. I love this!

  3. Hi Emmy! I found you through Gussy's blog and fell in love! This series you are doing couldn't have come at a better time. I haven't officially announced it yet, but am in the works of starting my own handmade business. So, just thought I would let you know your thoughts are much appreciated! I am definitely taking notes! Thanks!
    Andrea Adams

  4. Welcome Andrea! So happy to have you. I am going to post Part 2 of this series tomorrow, so be on the lookout. And congratulations on your new venture!!!

  5. Okay, so the concentrated part is where i'm stuck. I absolutely love doing blog designs and I also create personalized paintings. I have been thinking that selling these two are a little confusing. I also notice how it turns me off on etsy when a shop sells random things that don't really 'go' together.. sorry if I'm rambling but this made me think even harder. any suggestions?

  6. Awesome list! Very helpful...I'm off to read the rest of the series so far!