8 Top Predictors of Handmade Business Success


Since launching the Indie Business Network in 2000, I’ve made a career out of studying Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs. Day in and day out, all I do is work with, mentor, and coach people who sell the products they make. This intense and passionate focus, coupled with my personal entrepreneurial experience, has uniquely equipped me to understand what works and what does not work, and to fairly accurately predict success within the industry. Here are the eight top predictors of handmade business success.

Predictors of Handmade Business Success

1. You Have a Plan for How Your Business Will Serve Your Life

The only way to plan how your business will serve your life is to have a plan for your life. What is your vision for your life? What would make you feel like your life is “successful,” according to your definition of success? What do you see yourself doing and becoming in the future?

It’s never too late or too early to answer these types of questions, and doing so is the only way you can plan a business that serves your life.

The most successful entrepreneurs have a vision and a plan for what their lives will look like, and they build a business around that plan.

2. You Invest More Time in Yourself than You do in Your Business

One of the biggest predictors of handmade business success is how quickly you begin investing more time in yourself than you do in your business.

Do you read at least as many books to strengthen yourself personally as you do to strengthen yourself industry-wise? Do you put personal boundaries around yourself so meaningless time suckers do not threaten your productivity? Do you take intentional time off to focus inward? Do you have a coach or mentor whose mission it is to help you achieve your personal goals?

The most successful entrepreneurs are relentlessly focused on bettering themselves so they can be better leaders of their businesses.

3. You Learn How to Delegate

As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to make sure things done, but that does not mean that you have to do everything yourself. After a few years in business, you should be able to delegate tasks to others so you have the head space to lead you business.

Whether it’s help preparing meals, help with children, help with housework, help with social media, or help with customer service, if you do not delegate to other people, you will not grow personally. If you do not grow personally, you won’t grow as a business leader.

The most successful entrepreneurs delegate as much as they possibly can, freeing up head space for their role as leader.

4. You Create and Nurture a Positive Support System

I’m not talking solely about friends and family members here. I’m also talking about a circle of friends composed of entrepreneurs who are like-minded to you. You choose these people very carefully, bearing in mind that, as Jim Rohn said, you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Choose people from a variety of industries so you can pull new ideas from a cross section of disciplines. The more you invest in nurturing these types of relationships, the more successful your business will be.

5. You Focus on a Tightly Defined Target Niche

If the market you are going after is a large one, then you might as well not have a market. This is especially true for Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs because so much of the work you is winning the hearts of consumers who are used to getting everything on the cheap.

Successful Makers offer products that are well-made and packaged to showcase your unique brand and value proposition to a tightly defined niche. You know who those people are like the back of your hand, and your sole focus is to engage in activities that reach out directly to them.

The most successful entrepreneurs are not selling to everyone. They are selling to the same person over and over again, just at a different address.

6. You Know the Difference Between Making Money and Making a Profit

Anyone can make money, but only those who make a profit will be around for the long haul. To be successful, you must know exactly how much money you want to make, and exactly how much money you need to (wisely) spend in order to reach that goal. You know that the difference between those two numbers is profit, and you understand that just because you make money every day does not mean you are making a profit.

7. You Learn How to Market and Sell Both Yourself and Your Products

Successful Makers fully embrace the fact that they need more than just great products in order to be sustain their business over the long haul. You need to learn how to infuse who you are into your marketing routine so your customers experience more than a product when they make a purchase from you.

The most successful entrepreneurs learn how to weave their personal story into their brand story, and to consistently and simultaneously leverage both to win sales.

8. You Regularly Look for and Shore up Cracks Before Walls Begin to Weaken and Fall

It’s not the big and obvious missteps that bite most small business owners. It’s the tiny chinks in the armor that do you in. It’s the little cracks that go unnoticed, and then, before you know it, the walls are caving in.

One of the biggest predictors of handmade business success is your ability to see the cracks before they become gaping holes, and to handle important little cracks before mature into urgent emergencies. This is a learned skill.

The most successful entrepreneurs do it every single day.

Fortune Teller Photo via Shutterstock

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Donna Maria Coles Johnson


Donna Maria Coles Johnson Donna Maria is the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, a trade organization providing mentoring and coaching services, and affordable product liability insurance, to makers and creative entrepreneurs across North America. An award-winning small business advocate, Donna Maria has hosted the Indie Business Podcast since 2005. She blogs at Indie Business Blog.

2 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    Having a handmade business is tough in the sense that you have to manage your time and also deal with other aspects of your business. But as with other home based business, it takes a little discipline, but it is all worth it.

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