USE THESE 5 STEPS TO MAKE YOUR FIRST CRAFT SHOW A SUCCESS

*Guest post by Tina Martin

**I know a lot of crafters–people who make things, and are actually good at it. In fact one of my friends just rented a space to showcase her handy work. This article will assist you in hosting a successful craft fair and put you on the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Are you a maker or an artisan who is gearing up for your very first market or craft show? Then you should know that making your booth a hit with customers can take some planning and effort, especially if you want to increase your sales. So, before you begin setting up your table, take note of these simple ways that you can attract customers and sales for your new business. 

Streamline Management and Operations 

If you were building a house, you wouldn’t dream of getting started without the proper tools. Before you take your arts and crafts business to the next level, make sure you have the right tools to help build yourself up to success. For instance, getting your operations under control is crucial when you need to focus on setting up at your first craft show, and doing so can be effortless when you have business management tools, such as software to make point-of-sale operations more efficient, in your small business toolbox. Another way to enhance your operations and reduce your stress is to download productivity apps to keep yourself on track. You will need a solid smartphone to use those apps, so be sure to complete the next step. 

Upgrade to a More Powerful Mobile Device

If you don’t have a fast, efficient smartphone, you could be missing out on a lucrative revenue stream: mobile credit card processing. If you need a smartphone to handle all of those swipes as well as other essential business tasks, consider a next generation model. Phones like the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10+ can help increase sales and even help promote your business. Contact your wireless provider to see if they offer any trade-in deals where you can swap your older model phone for a discounted new model. 

Create and Post Engaging Social Media Content 

How do you get people excited about your products when you don’t have an actual storefront? By using social media, of course. Start by selecting the best platform to showcase your products and connect with your target audience. Many makers opt for Instagram since photos and videos are at the heart of this popular social media platform. You also need followers to boost your business, so don’t be shy about asking folks to like, share, and follow your account, or even printing business cards featuring your social media info. 

Promote Products with Organized, Attractive Displays 

Now that you have all the right ingredients to get folks to visit your booth or table, you need to make sure they are really “wowed” by what they see. That means taking some time to educate yourself around a few visual merchandising basics. First, find ways to showcase your products, including large-scale photos and clever signage. Next, try to set up your displays so that shoppers can easily browse and even touch your products. Touch can be especially important since people are more likely to buy items when they can touch them first. 

Connect With Customers Through Quality Service 

Your displays and products will entice shoppers to visit your booth or table, but your personality is what will drive people to actually make purchases. So, before you set up at your first market, show, or event, be sure to refresh yourself on some ways to offer excellent customer service. Showing up to your booth with a friendly attitude and a genuine smile can go a long way in helping shoppers connect with your business, so try to get a positive start to each day you will be working your booth so that you can attract loyal customers to help boost your business. 

Your first craft show can be a success so long as you take the time to plan out some key strategies. Planning is always essential for ensuring these events are as stress-free as possible, but know that keeping a positive attitude is crucial as well. So, be mindful of the way you present your products, and always be mindful of the way you present yourself. Good luck!  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

*Tina stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance.

**Check out the crafts of friend to the blog Steffany Villalobos. You can find her creations–Freestylecraft at the Mercantile #313, 7200 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116.

Women Over 50 Are Starting Businesses Left and Right. Should You?

*Guest post by Lucy Reed

You’ve spent years in a career that doesn’t fulfill you, and frankly, you’re tired of it! Now that you’re getting older, you’re serious about spending your time in ways that count.

Does that sound like you? You’re not alone: Lots of women over 50 are chasing their entrepreneurial dreams now that they have the time, confidence, and financial capital to do so.

Why Women Over 50 Start Businesses

Some women start businesses out of necessity. Older women who have recently lost a job or who are reentering the workforce find themselves disappointed by job prospects and decide to create their own opportunity. Other women discover they finally have the time and energy for a passion project now that they’re older. And with fewer people depending on them, older women have more freedom to take risks and fully commit to a business.

The Traits of Successful Female Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to take on financial risk, put yourself out there, and juggle a ton of responsibilities. For some people, it’s a role that comes naturally, while others have perfected the art of faking it until they make it. But if entrepreneurial traits like tenacity, dedication, and risk-taking aren’t in your playbook, business ownership might not be for you.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a cutthroat business woman or a natural salesperson to be a successful entrepreneur. Plenty of over-50 women start businesses in the nonprofit sector or become consultants and solopreneurs. However, whether you’re running a multinational corporation or a one-woman bookkeeping service, you need to be comfortable with marketing yourself and maintaining a public image.

Financial Considerations for Older Entrepreneurs

Starting a business can be a way to grow your income add to your nest egg after 50, but it’s no guarantee. Launching any business is a financial risk, and it’s even more so for women, who are likely to tap personal savings for startup capital. That’s because women entrepreneurs have a harder time than men raising startup capital for business ventures.

While it’s possible to tap retirement savings to start a business, the process is convoluted, and a mistake could lead to hefty IRS penalties. There’s also the risk that your business doesn’t succeed and the loss sets your retirement back years. Before going this route, explore other funding options like Small Business Administration microloans, alternative lenders, or even crowdfunding.  

Steps to Starting a Small Business

There’s a lot of work that has to be done before getting to the fun parts of business ownership, like building a brand and pitching your product or service. If you’re interested in starting a small business, take these steps to get started.

  • Assess the feasibility of your business idea. You have a great idea, but is it a profitable one? It doesn’t matter how much creativity or passion you have if you’re selling something no one wants to buy. Conduct research and surveys to evaluate who your target market is, what their needs are, and how much they’re willing to pay to have those needs met.
  • Obtain licenses and permits. The licenses and permits you need depend on the nature of your business. At minimum, you’ll need to register your business and file for an EIN.
  • Identify key partnerships. Strong networks make strong businesses. Establish relationships with suppliers, retailers, local businesses, and other partners who can help your business grow.
  • Create a marketing plan. Websites, social media, local marketing–today’s entrepreneurs have a lot of opportunities to get their ideas in front of an audience. Before launching campaigns, determine which marketing channels are best for your target audience.

There’s no expiration date on entrepreneurship. Whether you’re 26 or 55, if you have a good idea, you can turn it into a profitable business venture. While starting a business after 40 can feel like a leap of faith, sometimes that leap is just what you need to bring purpose and passion to your life.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–look before you leap.

*Lucy Reed has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s drivway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created GigMine.co because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas.