Home-base hobby turning into business
June 4, 2010 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Is this the right time to re-start my home base business (craftmaker of gel-candles)? I currently work full-time and Im growing tried of the job, but need the paycheck. Im 52yrs old and my heart and soul is in my crafts. Started about 10yrs ago, but went astray, but always though about doing it again. I need to make the right decision before I jump into spending $$ on new venture.
posted by naylord to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
With just a few samples, can you secure distribution of some kind (real-world shops that will display your products, an online website or two that will sell them for a percentage, etc) before you spend significant time/money on ramping up your production?

Anything you can do to reduce the chances of $0 in sales when you "really" start would make it a lot safer, and simpler.
posted by rokusan at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2010

Best answer: I know you think you can't do both but you can, if your heart and soul is in it. I know people will say "YES! Go For It! Jump IN with both feet!" but in this economy and your age, I would not recommend it - especially when you say that you're just "growing tired" of the job, not that the job is completely wrecking you.

If you want to be successful, cancel cable and work every free minute on your candles. Use your day job to finance what you love. Become successful and then you can quit the job.
posted by micawber at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You need the paycheck, so you should keep your day job and work on your crafts separately. To help you stay focused (and also not be overwhelmed) while trying to juggle both gigs, set aside a specific set of hours (nights, weekends or both) that you're on the job craft-wise, and then allow yourself to relax outside of those hours. Eventually, if all goes well, you'll make enough to allow yourself to quit your day job (and then you'll be devoting more time to craft, making more money going forward) or you'll realize you'll never make enough money so you'll be glad you kept your day job.
posted by davejay at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You said you did this before - how did that go? Were you fulltime? Did you feel like you had enough outlets to provide product if you were fulltime (as opposed to having lots of product but nobody buying)? Were you only selling to friends who wanted to help out, or did you really see a market for your wares? Did you enjoy it?
posted by CathyG at 10:59 AM on June 4, 2010

I have a slightly different philospohy....

I walked out of a job a 1.5 years ago and also had the goal of starting an apartment-based business. So I did not do both jobs at once, I quit the full-time job to try my own small business and I'm still surviving.

For me, the rationale to justify this is as follows: How motivated would I be to do projects during my off-hours, etc., if I have other income? In other words, I went with the "chain the wolf to the door" strategy, and knowing that income may not come in for a while or whatever does motivate me.

Now even though I just said that I did have a couple months of savings and would highly suggest that. I also knew that I had at least one potential client. Do you have a few months savings? Have you researched potential markets? HAve you heard of an organization called SCORE? They offer free small business counseling, even email and phone counseling - I bet you can find someone who had a similar business within that organization and ask them for additional suggestions, markets, etc.

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: i did this before as part-time and sold most of my items at the local flea markets on Saturday, made pretty nice $$. It was lots of fun, but spent long nites up, really didn't mind that. I think the prblm was that I wasn't really business conscience back then. Now, Im wiser and would rather enjoy my time making my candles. Your right, I need the full-time job in order to pay the bills, and for savings which Im in the process of doing. I want to make sure all my ducks are in a row before venturing out. Im trying to follow a plan, but not sure if its right. I keep looking for steps to follow, but haven't really found any that work..
posted by naylord at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2010

Well, if you know the local flea-market route works for you, then that's a plan. I would also open an Etsy store since your goods are hand-crafted.

What exact problems did not being business concious bring? You seem to have the basics of commerce covered - a product people wanted to buy, a venue to sell it, reasonable profit. If we knew what problems you encountered were, you might get better information about addressing them.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: one of the prblms in the beginning had to do with the $$ side of things. I knew and know how to make a profit, but when it came to moving the funds in the right direction, I fell short. There were times when I would break even, and then there were times when I would over spend on purchasing materials and had to pull the funds out of my paychk. I dont want to make that same mistake now, so Im planning on saving up $$ before I even start making anything. Im giving myself at least 2-3 mos of savings, especially since products prices are higher. Any suggestions?
posted by naylord at 1:48 PM on June 4, 2010

I'm sorry but I don't think you're being exact enough to get a good answer to your question. "Moving the funds in the right direction" isn't really descriptive.

If your issue is with how to manage the money you make from your business, I would say:

1/ Open a no-fee checking or savings account at a bank or credit union that will give you a debit card.

2/ Fund the account with $1,000 or whatever you estimate it will take to buy supplies and get a table at your first show.

3/ Pay for supplies with that debit card only.

4/ Calculate to the penny the cost of producing each candle. You need your per unit cost to establish profitable pricing.

5/ If you are selling off Etsy, don't forget to calculate postage costs.

5/ Return every penny of profit back to the checking account and use it only to buy supplies, publicise your business and pay any fees.

In general, I would suggest the boards at Etsy for asking about getting on top of the finances of your craft-based business. Many of those women sell in the same way you do, at craft fairs and flea markets, and do it profitably and consistantly, because they have a good grasp on the business aspects of managing their money.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:38 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: yes, i didn't know how to manage the money i made. Thank u for all your help, now i have a better understanding on what i need to do in order to make this work.
posted by naylord at 9:28 AM on June 5, 2010

I would try to sell candles at craft fairs and flea markets and see how it goes...
posted by veta7 at 6:30 AM on October 21, 2010

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