Editor’s Note: If you’ve been to our Craftcation: Business & Makers Conference, then you probably already know (and love) our friends at Darice who have been our official craft supply sponsor for the conference for the past four years! If you don’t know about Darice yet and you’re a craft blogger or handmade business owner, you REALLY need to be buying your supplies wholesale and should consider setting up a wholesale account with a company like Darice. Darice caters to small business owners and makers with low minimums and a freight-included program. Plus they just started carrying fabric! Your profit margin will never be high enough if you’re paying retail for supplies. If you’re not ready to start buying wholesale, at least make sure you’re getting the best retail price possible. Darice has a sister business Consumer Crafts that has excellent prices. We’re usually talking about all the great craft supplies Darice has but we invited our friend Meighan O’Toole to the blog to share ways to protect your bottom line and how Darice can help. -Nicole S.
By: Meighan O’Toole
Running a small business is quite literally the American Dream. It’s something all of us have worked incredibly hard to achieve, and continue to day and in and day out. Ask anyone that’s been in business for any length of time, and they’ll tell you that while they love their business, it’s a lot of work.
But, they’ll almost always follow it up with that they wouldn’t have it any other way. Because, while running and growing a small business isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s incredibly rewarding to see one’s hard work pay off and make a difference in our lives.
It takes gumption, grit, and tenacity to grow a successful small business. It also takes making smart choices. Despite what many marketing “gurus” will tell you, success doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t come easily.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. Building and growing a sustainable and profitable business means thinking strategically about every choice you make in your business. I understand when phrased like that it can sound exhausting! But it’s not. It’s simply being mindful in the choices you make.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to offer you six tips to help you improve your bottom line and help you save money in the process.
Buy in bulk
For most makers and product based businesses creating their products can stifle cash flow during the design and production stage. Investing in the supplies and resources to create the final product can take a big chunk of cash. That can be stressful!
Luckily, there are options for you. You don’t need to buy anything at wholesale, so you cut costs right there. And buying in bulk not only saves you money, but it keeps your resources and supplies stocked. Knowing you have things on hand not only saves you money but offers a peace of mind so you can design and create without any stress.
Craftcation partner, Darice offers the option to buy in bulk and gives you a discount when you do. Plus it’s easy to order online, and if you need help there’s always someone on the other end of the phone to help you.
Sharing costs & buying with other makers
Perhaps buying in bulk isn’t always an option for you. If that’s the case, consider sharing costs of supplies and resources with other makers. This is a cost effective way to save money, not only on your supplies but on shipping, too.
I once had a client who ran a retail store in one part of Boston and her friend ran a shop in another part, together they bought supplies, resources, and products together to save on costs. It also allowed them to purchase from vendors because they could put in a much bigger order.
This not only offers a win win for you, but it helps support your community and build relationships.
Using your time wisely: outsourcing admin work
Too often small business owners get sucked into working IN their business instead of ON their business (if this idea intrigues you, I recommend reading the book The Emyth Revisited.). They get lost in minutiae and busy work, when they could be delegating that work and spending their time on bigger and better tasks that develop the business.
There’s a reason the adage “time is money” is used often and so relevant. It’s important to look at your time as cost – are you spending your time wisely?
I get it, it can feel scary to spend money for someone else to do the work you can easily do. But I encourage you to think of your time in numbers, there is more important work you can be doing that no one else can do.
Scheduling your blog posts, social media, answering emails, etc. are all work others can help you with. Hiring a VA (virtual assistant) for a handful of hours will not only free up time but it will allow you to focus on items that bring in more cash such as product development, client work, and more.
Invest in your professional development
It took me a long time to realize that I need to continue to get better at what I do, and trial and error is not cost effective believe it or not. Investing in your skills and leadership role is key to taking your business to the next level. Recognize it or not, if you are a business owner you are the CEO of your business.
Paying someone else to tell me how to run my business better has always helped me grow my business quickly and efficiently. Not only because I get that experience and information to help me do a better job, but because I get those resources condensed and in a quicker time period. That alone is worth the money spent.
As we all know there’s a sea of endless resources, webinars, coaches, courses etc. It’s almost overwhelming just to think about it. The best thing you can do? Get to know people you trust, and ask them for recommendations.
Our conference, Craftcation not only offers bite-sized experiences with well known coaches, educators, and businesses but it gives you an opportunity to get to know experts in their field. It’s like an educational buffet of incredible people! And it’s also one of the best places to make lifelong business buddies!
Re-examining your pricing
This is a tough one, but it’s something every business should do. Conducting an audit on your costs and pricing is integral to your growth as a small business. It also keeps you competitive and knowing your worth.
Businesses grow and change. How is your pricing serving you? Is it time to metaphorically shelve a product?
It’s hard to know where to begin but there are plenty of people to help you take steps to ensure your profit margin is serving you and growing your business.
Check out your local SCORE chapter to find a mentor to help you, this is a free government funded organization that will connect you to people that know their stuff! If you’re ready to invest, look into Craftcation alum Lela Barker’s Lucky Break Consulting. Lela is an expert when it comes to product based businesses and will help you line your ducks up!
Check your tech
We live in an incredible time that allows us to run our businesses in ways we were never able to before. That means lots of tech and software as a service (SaaS) to help ensure everything runs smoothly in our business. And that also means it’s easy to pile on the SaaS and explore numerous tools to help us. But that can be a slippery slope to piling on things we don’t *really* need or have multiple tools able to do the same thing.
Most SaaS works on monthly subscription services, and hoooo-boy is it easy for those to add up! $10 here. $15 there. Before you know it, you could be spending an enormous amount of money that’s slipping through the cracks.
Here’s what I want you to do, take a look at everything you use for your business. Figure out what each tool does, ask yourself if you’re using it and or actually need it, and then find out how much it costs. Decide if you truly need these tools by asking if they save you time. Is the cost worth it? (I like to compare tools to coffees at Starbucks – if a tool costs me roughly 4-5 drinks at Starbucks a month – weekly coffee drink- AND I am using them efficiently, they are most likely worth it for my budget.) Next ask yourself, can you get rid of one tool and use another tool for the same thing and more? For instance, it’s very easy to have multiple social media scheduling tools – is there one that will help you do everything?
If the tool really works for you, see if you can downgrade to a lesser plan or a free plan. If it’s really serving you, than the answer is most likely no. So the next step I want you to take is to see if they offer a yearly payment plan. Almost always SaaS platforms offer a discount if you pay up front, and you can save a lot of money by paying yearly.
Getting rid of tools you no longer need, combining and doubling down on the tools you do by paying yearly for them can save you lots of fees. I do a bi-yearly audit of my tech and the last time I did it I saved $100 a month($1200 a year!!). So it’s worth it to go through this exercise.
Saving money and protecting your bottomline
As with anything in your small business make it a priority to save yourself money and protect your bottomline. This will not only help you to save money, but it’ll help you run a leaner, more profitable business. All of this will lead to peace of mind and more room for you to do what you truly love.
Where are you saving money in your business? Share with us below so others can learn.