I learned a VERY good lesson very early in the life of this business.
Well, a few, but we'll talk about another one later this week.
A little background: up until September of last year, I'd never poured a candle or wax melts in my life. I was gifted some supplies to practice with, but I had no idea what I was doing. I received no instructions, no guidance, no fragrance oil, and I didn't even know how to use the wax I was given. The only thing I knew was that I needed to figure something out before I started selling.
I'm quite fortunate to have been a stay-at-home parent for the last 4+ years and that I was gifted this "starter kit". However, the only thing I've used from it is the thermometer and the pouring pot. I don't even use the pouring pot anymore because it was pretty much ruined when I got it. The wax that I've used was purchased by me with some personal money I had stashed away (that I also forgot about).
If you have a product-based business, doesn't matter if it's handmade or not, this process is SO important. It's necessary. It's... whatever word is stronger than necessary.
(Note: there are way more than 4 steps and these night not apply to all businesses.)
Are you selling a product you didn't make? Look at the reviews. See what others who are selling it are saying. Hand-making your wares? It's damn near impossible because almost no one in the crafting world wants to share their "secret recipe," but find a process that you can follow. Look at websites, groups, forums, and videos.
Researching also allows you to see what you'll need so that the next step makes things a little clearer for you.
Figuring out the most efficient way to run your business is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Physically, financially, and MENTALLY. Developing a way to fulfill and ship orders QUICKLY without straining any of these three things is PERTINENT (I should've used this word earlier).
But planning isn't just figuring out what you need to get started. It's also creating some flow, for the customer, but especially for you. Does it make sense to keep that heat press in a room different from where you do most of your work or can you rearrange things so that you have a shorter walking distance? What part of the house has the most consistent temperature or humidity based on your needs? How soon do you need to order more stock before you run out? What shipping company will you use and how can you set expectations with your customers? #SaveUSPS
Remember to make it so it's easier on YOU, but also results in a good customer experience.
If you think I got my formula for candles and wax melts right on the first try, you are WRONG. The scent throw was EXTREMELY weak because I was scared of the smell being too strong. The only way I knew this is because I had friends who bought my testers and gave me honest feedback. I was about to LAUNCH with that mess and I'm so glad I didn't.
I did what I call "freak out and figure out." I panicked a bit, but once I got myself together, I went back and saw the things that could be done differently. A different amount of fragrance oil, an adjustment in temperature, and like a hundred more changes.
Testing also allows you to see how your flow works. What middlemen can you cut out? Would it make it easier to pre-cut that vinyl all at once before applying it to the products you're selling?
TEST TEST TEST TEST TEST!
Oh, you thought failure wasn't a step? It might be the best one.
Where failing ends, the lesson begins.
Read that again.
You HAVE to fail, ideally before you launch. The clean-up is much easier.
Let's be clear: whether or not the customer personally LIKES the product is not something you can control. You just have to hope they do.
How it behaves during REGULAR use (set by common sense or you) is what counts.
If you fail, don't dwell on it. Stop thinking of it as a failure and determine what you need to do to fix it.
Turn that L into a lesson.
Don't be fooled: getting it "right" is never the end. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm still learning and still adjusting my process. There are always better, faster ways to do things. But once you get these steps down, adjusting after that is easy.
Keep researching. Keep planning. Keep testing. Keep failing.
And keep GOING.💪🏽