Starting Up a Product Business- Top Tips
Starting Up A Product Business? Don't Forget These Important Considerations!
When you’re starting up your own business, there are so many things to plan and set up. However, if your business is a product business (as opposed to a service) there are some specific extras that need your consideration.
You might still be at the ideas stage or you might be ready to launch; either way, you’ll find this a helpful read full of top tips from existing Small Business owners. And even if your business is already up and running, why not review these points to help your venture grow?
Good quality pictures of your products are vital
Do you want customers to buy your products online? Then the quality of all photos is critical.
"Dingy pictures do not sell products!’’ says Alison, who has been running her Small Business, Dribblebuster, for over 15 years. You can have the best possible product but if it’s displayed in a poor quality photo online, you will turn customers off straight away.'' So, you have a couple of low cost options :
1. Take your own Product photos
Many Small Business owners take their own photos, particularly at the early stages of their business when professional product photography is a huge initial outlay. With the development of the smart phone, good quality photos are achievable for anyone. However, there are some important top tips to remember when photographing your own products:
-The right light
''Always take pictures in the best light but be aware of shadows from direct sunshine," continues Alison, who makes gorgeous baby bibs from designer prints, ''Early morning light is best."
-The right equipment
Remember that different products benefit from different photography techniques or equipment. Jewellery maker Karen, owner of Belle Crystals, says ''I have found a light box invaluable (along with a good lens) and only wish that I had known about it when I first started photographing my products.'' Karen recommends purchasing a light box with an open front and ideally several backdrops to showcase pieces of jewellery. You can find her beautiful work on Shopitnear here.
So, whatever type of product you sell, make sure you have thoroughly researched how best to photograph them to your advantage. Networking with business owners in a similar field to get their advice is a great place to start.
2. Find Free Product Photography
And whilst we’re on the subject of networking, don’t forget that most professional photographers are Small Business owners themselves! Collaboration is so key in the Small Business world.
''Join a Facebook group such as Photographers and Small shops Collab - Free products in exchange for photos','' says Maria, owner of Capikooa, a Small Business making balance boards for all ages. This facebook group allows you to post your requirements and see which photographers are able to help: mutual benefit all round for free!
Find the right shipping method(s) for your products
Finding the best shipping method for your products and your business is no doubt on your to-do list already. Don’t underestimate how important this job is. The last thing you want is an unreliable shipping company resulting in damaged goods, unhappy customers and extra costs for you.
Your shipping requirements will depend on the nature of your products. For some businesses, such as Carterie Sarah, Royal Mail is the obvious choice. Owner Sarah designs and makes stunning greeting cards for all occasions. ''Shipping 1st class means less handling so the product arrives in very good condition,'' says Sarah.
For those selling much larger products, like the fantastic Capikooa balance boards, having a choice of options helps to keep shipping as cost effective as possible. Maria, Capikooa founder, advises ''Look for a platform such as https://uk.worldoptions.com/ that connects to your website and provides quotes from different shipping companies for each order so you can then choose the best one for each order (for example one shipping company may be cheaper for international and another one for remote areas.''
If your products are particularly fragile, it’s paramount that you research the optimum shipping company to handle your deliveries. Networking online or in person with owners of similar businesses is a great place to pick up recommendations of suitable companies to use.
Investigate Sustainable packaging options
Customers today are more environmentally conscious than ever before. Your packaging can become an extra selling point for your business if you take the time to source a sustainable type.
It could be that the packaging you choose is made of recycled materials, or it could a material that is recyclable by the customer. If you can avoid using plastic in any part of your packaging, that can be seen as a real positive by some eco-conscious consumers.
Sustainable packaging is certainly something you should investigate and if it’s not financially viable for you at the start-up stage, don’t forget to revisit it in the future as your business grows!
Make the Most of Free Resources Available
Every penny counts as a Small Business owner, never more so than when you are starting out. Making the most of the free resources available to you is key; you’ll be surprised how much you can save by taking a bit of time to look online and network.
There are various government grants available that are worth exploring if you need capital. A good place to start is here.
Equally important, you can get a lot of free advice and guidance which can save you money not just now, but in the long run. For example, there are Business and Intellectual Property Centres across the UK which offer a fantastic range of free and low-cost services for any Small Business. You can have free 121s with business advisers, access a whole range of business tools online, join webinars on many topics at your convenience or go along to face to face events in your area.
Also, the value of networking cannot be underestimated. Have a thorough search for Facebook groups that might be useful for you to join, go to events, chat to other small business owners at markets etc. You’ll gain knowledge, useful contacts and advice.
Do a thorough Cost Analysis
In business as in life, things often end up costing more than you expect. Carefully calculating all expenditure (including annual costs which are easy to forget) pays off massively in the long run.
Sarah of Carterie Sarah says: ''Make sure you add up all your costs before you price your products and don’t forget to add the cost of your valuable time too.'' She also adds ''Compare prices of supplies online and buy in bulk where you can.''
Counting the cost is equally important whether you are making your own goods or re-selling products. Bev, who set up a side business ‘Beautyeverywhere’ to plan for her retirement, emphasises the importance of ''buying at the right price – it seems basic but it certainly needs to be a focus.'' Bev also lists her products here on Shopitnear and on another platform as well.
Find the right selling platform(s)
You don’t necessarily need to have your own website when you start out selling products. There are many marketplaces and selling platforms which will enable you to get your products online without the expense and hassle of setting up and managing your own website.
Even if you do decide to launch your products on your own website, it’s worth casting your net wider and selling on other platforms at the same time as well to increase your reach. Investigate as many as you can and make sure you total up all costs eg some platforms charge separately for listing and sales or additionally for advertising.
Alison, owner of Dribblebuster, recommends ‘Find a platform to sell on such as Shopitnear. They charge a low commission rate (unlike some of the larger marketplaces) and give lots of help and support if required.’
Find out more about what makes Shopitnear a unique online marketplace to both buy and sell here.
Finally, one of the best things about running a Small Business is the joy of working with other Small Business owners. There is a wonderful sense of community and it’s one of the many reasons why networking and collaborating, as mentioned several times already in this piece, is so beneficial.
To that end, I’d like to thank Maria, Alison, Karen, Sarah and Bev for taking the time to provide their helpful top tips for this blog.
For more information on any of these points, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com or add any other top tips below in the comments!
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