Wednesday, February 3, 2010
This is the third in a series of postings about business planning or, more specifically, my adventures in business planning. I am sharing my thoughts here in hopes you will find something useful to use in your own entrepreneurial adventures. You can catch up by checking out So What's the Plan? and On a Mission.
Today I will spend some time with Selling Venues. I am probably going out of order in terms of a structured, formal business plan, but this is what is in my head.
As a sole proprietor, I want to be clear about what works and what does not work for me. I need to think about my lifestyle, values, and interests and find selling venues that align relatively well with these factors. Each selling venue has pros and cons. It is beneficial to spend time researching and/or experimenting with the various selling venues to see what works for you.
As an artisan and educator, I see the following selling venues as options:
Consignment. Providing products to established shops or galleries for sale in those stores. A 30-50% fee is garnered by the owner of the shops or galleries upon sale of the merchandise.
Fabrication Services. The manufacture of items (quilts, clothing, pillows, etc.) for customers using materials they provide. Fabrication Services may be provided privately (for individuals) or on an independently contracted basis for companies.
Internet. Selling products directly to customers online through independent or hosting e-commerce-ready websites.
Private Sales. Selling products directly to customers in person, primarily locally.
Retail Shows. Selling products directly to customers in person at a variety of locations. Shows come in two categories: Juried (open to vendors who are accepted through an application process); Non-Juried (open to all vendors).
Teaching. Providing sewing lessons and/or teaching workshops as a service.
Wholesale. Selling products directly to shop owners to resell in their stores. With wholesale, retail store owners (generally) take 50% of the retail price of the item. Wholesale arrangements may be made on an individual basis or through wholesale shows.
Some people choose one selling venue, others choose a variety of ways to sell their products and reach their target customer base. I have tried all of these selling venues and find I prefer working directly with my own customers through local community events and the internet. Still, I keep my options open and sometimes make use of other selling venues.
The more experienced I become as a business person, the more I understand the importance of finding people who are both interested in the work I do AND want to make a purchase. Two questions (there are plenty more) to ask for each selling venue: "Is this selling venue working for me?" and "Will I meet people from my target market here?" The closer I come to balancing my product and selling venue with my target customers' needs and wants, the more likely I generate enough sales to keep my business viable.
This is just a start on selling venues. Was this useful? Do you have further thoughts or ideas for selling venues? I would love to hear from you!
Next week, I will talk more about demographics and finding your target market.