I am a skilled craftsman. Would that set me up for a crafts business?

Question:

Since my grade school days, I have never been academically inclined.  I enrolled in B.S. psychology in college, but dropped out before I finished my second year.

However, I am not without talent.  I am good with my hands.  Ever since I can remember, I have been into embroidery, sewing, crocheting, even basket weaving.  I have engaged in various crafts projects off and on  and have earned a bit from these ventures.

Last Christmas, I crocheted small angels and Santa Clauses for Christmas hangings and ornaments and gave them away as gifts.  Everyone who saw the hangings say they are cute, wonderful and amazing.  I got orders for dozens of the stuff, but I wasn’t able to deliver all orders.  I didn’t have enough time. You see, it was just me doing all the work with the help of a 15-year old niece on her time off school.

But that experience led me to ask myself:  Can I make a business out of my skills?  I have some money — not much but enough if I start very small.

I really don’t know.  Can you help me?  What do you think?

Carina V. Nicolas

Greenheights, San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon Cioty

 

Answer:

Hi Carina.

Thanks for this interesting question.

Let me answer you as best as I can.

A craft or a technical skill is a good basis for setting up a business.  But knowing the technical or production side of business is not enough to make a sustainable venture out of it.  .

Not all great cooks can be caterers or restaurant owners.  Not all good carpenters can be in wood craft or carpentry business or construction business.  Not all fine potters can run a ceramics business.

Craftsmanship — knowing how to produce the items — is very important for a craft business to take off, no doubt about it.  You should be able to refine your knowledge of producing craft items (by use of technology, selection of materials, knowledge of volume production, packaging, product development, etc.).  But there are other facets of the business, other than production, that are equally important.

According to Samuel Gerber (author of The E-Myth), understanding the art of business is important, too.  You have to know to negotiate, how to get your first customers, how to tell your buyers about your product and how wonderful it is, how to budget, how to cost and price your product, how to source your materials, how to bargain with your suppliers, how to raise capital, how to hire and manage your people, and a myriad other functions.  These are very crucial to learn.

You may learn this as you go along — through trial and error, hit or miss.  But can you afford to take so much risks? Can you imagine putting in your life savings and then see it go down the drain because you made costly mistakes?

These are things you can learn in business school or in entrepreneurship training institutions.

Some fine craftsmen and artisans have partnered with skilled business managers with positive outcome.  In effect, you work with people who have the skills you don’t have and who would welcome the chance to get together with people like you who have the technical skills.

So would you like to look out for possible business partners?  Be careful who you choose, though.  (Click here for some guidance on choosing partners.)

(I hope that this tentative answer will do for now.  Let’s wait for what the other SERDEF counselors will say.)

Sincerely,

The Website Administrator

 Photo: “IMG_0608” by Tobias Vemmenby, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

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