What did you say you make?

What did you say you make?

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What did you say you make?
Defining your artisanal business clearly may not be easy.

If you were going up to the 25th floor in an elevator with someone, and they asked you what you do for a living, could you give them a good, clear answer before the doors open?  It’s not as easy as you may think, and if you can’t do it, then you’re not quite “in business yet”.

For example, lets say you make ceramic art objects, decorative bowls and mugs. Would you answer “I make stuff out of clay” or “I make beautiful objects and dishes out of clay” or maybe “I am an artisan who works in clay and sells through craft-shows“. Any of these might suffice to keep the conversation going until they get off the elevator but will they be encouraged to ask you for a card – will you even have a card handy?

Here is what you might have said instead, “I make a full range of bone china dinnerware” or “I make beautiful, practical ceramic tableware in vibrant colours” or even “I make amazing tile exactly the way you want it. I am unique in that I make every tile to order using recycled materials and sustainable manufacturing practices, all right here in Ontario”. And of course – you always have a card handy.


What you make is what you sell – right?

These types of descriptions don’t just happen – they come from having really thought about exactly what you want to sell not just what you want to make. They also come from having made some hard choices. You might enjoy making and selling other products but when it comes to your business you will need to decide on your primary products because you can’t effectively make, market and sell many different things – at least not at the beginning! It critical that you focus your efforts.


It’s never to soon to think about the Executive Summary

When you write a business plan it usually begins with an executive summary, even though it might be the last section that you write. It’s actually the hardest thing to write because it requires you to have thought through a whole lot of important details about your business. So when you are thinking about your elevator answer, go ahead and fill in the details because you will want to revisit them when you describe yourself and your business for your business plan. For example you might want to include:

  • A clear description of what you make and how it is different form other products
  • Why you choose to make it – beyond your talents and enjoyment – why you think there is a market for your product?
  • Where you plan to sell your wares – from the internet to geographic demographics to the sales venue?
  • How you see your sales growing – will there be any strategic partnerships in your future?

When we really get into writing the business plan, and we talk a little more about financial planning you will have more time to fill in the blanks for the executive summary, but for now, just think about what you would like to say in that elevator to someone who might be a potential customer.


Business Concept Development

  • Define your business clearly


Upcoming Weeks:

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  • Identifying your target market
  • Identifying market factors affecting your business
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