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3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Handmade Business


3 things I wish I knew before starting my handmade business

I knew nothing about running a small business when I launched Waku Waku Baby in 2019. Some people call that fearless (and maybe they are right) but I'd like to call myself brave. I didn't personally know anyone who started a small handmade business like mine so I piecemealed information together from Google just enough to move from one step to the next until I started selling products that I handmade in my home sewing studio. For some reason, I thought that was the rite of passage, but deep down I wished there was an easier way to figure out the solution to every little bump in the road I came across.


I'm thankful for my willingness to tackle the unknown, but at the same time, there were things I wish I knew before I decided to start my own small business.


For those of you thinking about starting a handmade business or just recently started a product-based business, I hope that you find a few of these tips helpful. Sharing my experiences through this blog is one of the ways I want to give back to this community. I truly believe that we can all help each other grow and flourish in order to create a more beautiful world.


Alright, let's get right to it!


colorful fabric stash

Picture: my beautiful fabric stash


#1. Running a product-based business is not easy


Maybe you already knew this. If not, I'm sorry to spoil the excitement, but have to get this one out first. Running a product-based business is not for the faint of heart. I was totally naïve about the complexity of running a product-based business. And when I mean product, I mean physical goods that you can touch and feel sitting on your shelf. Compared to a service-based businesses or digital goods stores, having physical products brings complexity of running your business to a whole new level. Then, add in the fact that you are the manufacturer of your handmade goods! That's an additional layer of complexity you have to navigate through.


blue and green baby shoes

Picture: Solids collection, Stay-On Baby and Toddler Shoes


Why is that you ask? The reason why, in one word, inventory.


Because with inventory you need to figure out:

  • what to make

  • how to price your products

  • how to source raw goods and materials

  • how many variations (SKUs) to have for each product

  • whether you are going to have a made-to-order or ready-to-ship model

  • storage solution for your inventory or finished goods

  • packaging of your products

  • shipping

  • how to manage returns and exchanges

  • how to keep track of what sold

Yep, it's a lot to manage. But this is the core of a product-based business. And guess what? It's not easy but this can all be fun and rewarding too. And did I say you have to figure out all of this on your own, even if you are a solopreneur like me? Spoiler alert - the answer is no! (see point #3) you do not have to do this alone. In fact, there is a whole community of like-minded product bosses that are going through the same exact questions and problems you are facing.


What I wish I'd done sooner Tip #1: Understand the different business models and what makes a physical product-based business different than all other business types. Give yourself a gut check to see whether this is something you're ready to tackle.


packaging order handmade small business

Picture: Packing up a cute order of mint and pink dots baby bandana bibs and shoes gift sets


#2. Invest in yourself as the boss of your business


This is something I learned through my business mentors, Jacqueline and Minna of The Product Boss. This 'investing in yourself' concept was foreign to me until I 'met' Jacqueline and Minna through their Product Boss Podcast (I love how they constantly challenge my thinking - this point included!)


It was 2021 and I was ready to really start working on my business after my youngest turned one when I started to have just a tiny bit more time on my hands and coming out of a long postpartum fog. I realized that I was quite overwhelmed on all the things I had to get done to get my business up and running again. I knew I could figure something out on my own but I was spending too much time researching every small topic and felt like I was running on an never-ending hamster wheel.


Then I realized that I can fast track my education and learn from others who've already gone through this. If I invest in myself as the boss of my business, I can shortcut some steps without self-doubting every single decision that came my way.


Sewing in home sewing studio

Picture: Sewing in my home sewing studio - making cute reversible bucket hats


I also wanted to give myself a mindset boost and confidence to run my own small business the way I wanted. I wanted to make decisions for myself and my business without feeling unsure. When Jacqueline and Minna were offering their signature course, Multi-Stream-Machine, I was on the fence. I barely had enough in my bank account to afford the course. I had to wait until the next billing cycle to roll out before I could commit to paying for this course. It was the biggest investment I made for myself and my business at that time. But in the end, I jumped over the fence and said yes. It was a commitment to myself and my business, Waku Waku Baby. I was scared that I may not even make my money back, but within 2 months I had the biggest sales month and was able to pay off the course.


What I wish I'd done sooner Tip #2: Invest in yourself at the earliest opportunity you can manage to afford. Investing in yourself doesn't end by just being able to pay back the course you just purchased. It pays itself over and over because it empowers YOU, the boss of your business. Whether it's confidence, mindset boost, self-assurance, happiness...the list goes on. Lesson learned - when in doubt, invest in yourself because it's always worth it.


Seiko in her home sewing studio

Picture: Seiko in her home sewing studio pictured with burp cloths, hair bows, and loveys


#3 You don't need to do this alone


Deep breath. Thinking about how much this would have meant to me if I knew this fact starting out. You may have read my spoiler alert in Point #1 but I really wish I knew that I didn't have to do this alone. I'm not talking about having a business partner or a team to start - I'm talking about my fellow product-based business owners. If I were to redo my business again, I would have reached out to someone who was already running a successful handmade business. And just simply started a conversation. Back then I thought it was the rite of passage to figure everything out on my own. I even thought that others would think of me as competition (my insecurities were making me think this way). Now I know better. The handmade community is one of the nicest, kindest, sweetest group of people and they are welcoming with open arms. Everyone is still learning and will help you if you need a hand. Just having a sounding board that is not your spouse (thank you hubby!) can be so impactful for your business. Another beautiful phrase that The Product Boss has said many times is that "there is room at the top for all of us." I think it's true.


What I wish I'd done sooner Tip #3: Do some research and find product-based businesses through Facebook groups, Instagram, or in your local neighborhood you can connect with and start forming relationships with. Ask questions and share your knowledge with them too!


Corner of home sewing studio

Picture: Corner of Seiko's home sewing studio based in Pittsburgh, PA


And if you've made it this far, thank you! I truly hope some of this information will be helpful for you.


If you are a product-based business owner yourself, thinking about becoming one or even just curious what it's like, can I share with you an exciting free challenge that I think will be a gamechanger for you and your business?



Join me and Jacqueline and Minna of @theproductboss for the Best Seller Secrets Challenge😍 It is a free challenge where they help product-based businesses narrow in and focus on bestsellers to start getting really focused on what will actually help you grow a profitable, revenue-generating business all year long✨


The Challenge takes place from February 13th- February 17th. Jacqueline and Minna will be showing up LIVE each day of the challenge to walk you through training designed to teach you the secrets to maximizing your revenue and growing a profitable business with ease.


Here’s what we’ll be doing together:

🎉 Day 1: Discover your UNTAPPED opportunities for a product-based business.

🎉 Day 2: Create Your Best Offers to take advantage of your best sellers.

🎉 Day 3: Amplify your Best Sellers and share them with the world.

🎉 Day 4: Right Products, Right Time - get ready to sell at the right time.

🎉 Day 5: Your Year-Round Plan: How to Make More Sales and Grow a Profitable Product-Based Business


Want to learn more? Click here for all the details!




Are you ready to save your seat?






I’m 100% confident you’ll walk away from these workshops feeling like you a) spent your time wisely, and b) have a fail-proof plan for the rest of the year!

Here’s to an amazing 2023 ahead!






P.S. Leave a comment below and let me know what you sell within your product-based business. I’d love to cheer you on throughout the workshop series and beyond.


P.S.S. **UPDATE**

I am now a proud partner of the product boss and I have a special link I want to share with you! It's for the Product Boss's signature course, Multi-Stream Machine (MSM). Before I took MSM I was so overwhelmed on what to focus on. There were SO MANY things on my to-do list but I felt paralyzed by all the decisions I had to make. Multi-Stream Machine gave me a clear path and the exact steps to take. I wish I had taken MSM right when I started, not 2 years in.


The doors to Multi-Stream Machine are now OPEN! Join my mentors, Jacqueline and Minna of The Product Boss, for the Multi-Stream Machine. This is the only program of its kind that shows you exactly how to get onto multiple revenue-generating platforms and teaches you how to grow a sustainable product business with effective systems, more visibility and more sales in MONTHS, not years!


Multi-Stream Machine is perfect for you if you want to:


💰 Build a sustainable and thriving business that can support itself (and pay you the salary you dream of)


💰 Have a clear roadmap in all things Product Boss so you can create a plan and sell more


💰 Get more customers to easily find you and buy from you without spinning your wheels while stuck on social media…


💰 Know that you have enough options to create opportunities and grow a profitable business


AND


💰 Gain the confidence you need to know you are “doing it right” and building a business with a solid foundation under it







handmade baby gifts