Three Biggest Myths That Hold Crafters & Cottage Businesses Back From Being Profitable

There are 3 big myths that hold crafters, designers, and small cottage industries back from stepping up to the plate, realizing their full potential and making a profit. The truth is, all of these myths are centered around fear, doubt and uncertainty. Change is an inevitable part of growth. Take a look at these Myths and see which ones apply to your business:

Myth #1: If I price my products too high people won’t buy them. I keep my prices low to sell more

Truth: You can’t decide what other people will pay for your products. Pricing is an art combining perceived value, workmanship, availability and timing in the marketplace and perhaps actual costs. If you’re lower than everyone else you may encounter lack of sales because your products are considered inferior quality even though they are better than other similar products. I had a client recently who was thinking along these lines and when she raised her prices she not only sold more units but greatly increased her revenues. Ask yourself this question: do you always make purchases based on the lowest price?

Myth # 2: Shipping & Admin work takes so much of my time I don’t have time for creating new products

Truth: Shipping and admin work are tasks that can be easily systematized. You can’t afford not to hire help in doing those things that are not your forte. Rule of thumb here is: Do what only you can do and delegate the rest. You cannot grow your company if you do everything. As the owner you are the visionary – and it is up to you to be working on your business and not in it. For example, if it takes you 6 hours a week to ship and you could hire that out for $72 a week – with that time saved you would then have 24 hours a month to devote to product development, marketing & sales. You are actually losing money by doing it yourself – it is false economy!

Myth #3: It costs too much for marketing, people find me by word of mouth

Truth: The life blood of any product based business is marketing. If you don’t get your name and products in front of the public to let them know you’re in business, you will not have a business for very long. Marketing is what draws prospects in to take a look at your products. It is not enough to open up your website, buy an ad in a magazine or attend a trade show. You have to “work it” over and over again. The truth be told, marketing is what makes your business sink or swim. Marketing makes people aware of your product and they must be aware that you exist in order to buy.

There are many ways to promote your business that are low cost: social media, newsletters, post cards, phone calls, classified ads, special promotions, Blogging, SEO ( search engine optimization) and press releases to name a few. The more often you’re seen the more likely it is that your customers will become familiar with your company. You want them to know, like and trust you because they will then buy your products.

Web Based Sales Training Can Get Your Business Back on Track

Two forces are working together right now to cause a perfect storm for small businesses. 1 – Small businesses have a cloudy view of their market. 2 – Small businesses don’t realize that they have this cloudy or distorted view of their market.

You could argue that there are more than just two forces creating this perfect storm. We are in the mist of a gripping recession. Layoffs are still occurring; unemployment is hovering nationally around 10%. Fuel prices are still high and groceries are not getting any cheaper. Customers have gone out of business.

On top of all that you have a political climate that has lead to a stalemate. Even the small business champion – The Chamber of Commerce has been shut out of the legislative process.

However given all of the above small business people are still out there working everyday and they are as optimistic as ever. I try to meet as many small business people as possible at least 4 times a month through my own networking efforts.

I love hearing their stories. How they are overcoming the obstacle and pressing their businesses forward.

In my own 25+ years of being in and around businesses of all sizes I have noticed that a lot of times businesses bring on their own problems and have their own perception of their market.

That perception of their market may or may not be correct. It is this perception that gives us the cloudy or distorted view of the market.

What we have all probably noticed is that people in general get shaped by all of the outside influences that surround them. Recessions happen, unemployment goes up and down, prices rise and a thousand other factors tend to cloud a persons view.

They get themselves and their businesses boxed in by this view. Once they are in the box it is hard for them to let in the fresh air so the business can advance.

This is not just a small business phenomenon. Big businesses have the same issue. They can get boxed in with a cloudy view of their market.

There is a way to break out of the box.

You need positive outside influences to get your business back on track. You need someone with some business acumen to help you clearly see your market.

In any town there are people who have the business acumen to help get your business back on track. Typically they have “consultant” or “trainer” printed on their business cards. These people can help you redefine your market and to help you seek out new customers.

In my own work as a sales trainer in the Atlanta area I regularly conduct custom training classes or new hire sales training classes to help businesses succeed.

One method of consulting and sales training that is currently catching on is e-learning. These web based sales training classes are economical, topical and are broken up into smaller segments that take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Being affordable is obviously a big draw to companies that know they need to break out of the box. Our web based sales training is also LIVE. It always been my feeling that there needs to be an interaction between all of the participants. Being live and being lively helps stimulate the conversations that allow all the participants the ability to see their true market.

The point of the training and/or hiring a business consultant is to bring in new ideas into a firm which will help it get it out of the box. The added benefits are when a sales training is completed the sales representative are ready to go and hit the ground running.

If you can get your salespeople to hit the ground running, and running in the right direction then you will ride not only ride out this storm but you will come through even stronger than when you began the ride.

Web based sales training is just one way to seek out new ideas which will get your business back on track. Talk to your local business consultant if you find yourself in a perfect storm.

Is Your Business Back-End Bigger Than Your Front-End?

Don’t let the question mislead you. In business terms, the front end of the business is what draws patients (customers) into their first encounter with us.

In most of our practices, that usually means a patient crisis of varying degrees. Not uncommonly, pain-for which the patient is seeking a rapid solution to a problem.

Fortunately, most of us are really effective at crisis care. But the simple economics of most private health care practices dictate that in today’s world, we have way more to offer our patients. But here’s the kicker: businesses with longevity are very good at building back-end sales. Most private practice owners, however, miss the mark.

But here’s what you can do almost immediately. Ask your patients for feedback on a regular basis. I suggest you ask every patient to fill out a “Tell Us How We Are Doing” form at each re-exam. This simple step is often neglected.

Next, brainstorm with your staff. What are patients telling them? What makes them happy or dissatisfied? Often, patients will tell staff things they’ll never say to our faces. Have they asked for other services, or perhaps support products like comfort items (braces, supports, pillows, et cetera)?

Here is the real reason for this discussion today. Despite the nastiest economic meltdown in most of our lifetimes, people-YOUR patients-still buy what they want.

If you doubt me, look at the most recent Black Friday sales figures. Better yet, go to any place people gather on weekends, like a great restaurant.

I told a story several years ago about patients in local practices balking at $15 co-pays, but spending hundreds at the spa (on health and cosmetic desires) right down the street from their office!

Why does this happen? Because most private practice owners don’t treat their businesses like well-run corporations with strong customer service, then developing the product and service lines to meet their patients desires.

So what might be some great back-ends to your practice? In addition to the things we mentioned above, weight loss products, support, and coaching, personal and fitness training, and cosmetology and cosmetic care.

And more: wellness care (which should be built into every initial case presentation!), massage therapy services, healthy cooking and meal preparation, yoga and meditation, addiction recovery, and so on.

Just remember, the time to be thinking, planning, and brainstorming about the future of your practice and livelihood is when practice is going really well.