Did you know that half of all new businesses in the U.S. fail within the first five years? We’ve done a couple of previous posts on how to get support for the nuts and bolts side of your entrepreneurial jewelry business, which you can see here:
This post focuses on how to analyze the relative success of your business, and how to recalibrate for greater success if necessary. Our advice is drawn largely from a great post we ran across on Shopify, geared to a broader spectrum of businesses. You can see that original post here at Shopify's Blog Site.
[Note: The beautiful pendant shown here is from (the VERY SUCCESSFUL!) the very talented metalsmith Deborah Close of DeborahCloseDesigns on Etsy.]
Now for our advice on how to evaluate the health of your endeavor. Here are some warning signs of a failing business:
· A halt or dramatic slow-down in growth
· Poor cash flow & temptation to cut expenses
· Lack of innovation
So what can you do if it looks like you’re failing? Here are some good ideas:
· Pivot and Change Direction
What does this mean exactly? Well, it’s different for different people and different problems. For some, it means entirely changing your business model. For others, it might just mean changing your target customer. Maybe you thought your designs would sell most frequently to those seeking fine, high end jewelry – when in fact those particularly interested in handcrafted jewelry are more appropriate. You need to do a careful analysis of what’s working and what’s not, and consider making changes as needed.
If your sales are slipping, rebranding may not be the first thing you think of. But sometimes, when your logo, image, packaging and even product may need a complete overhaul.
· Narrow your Niche Down and Focus
Sometimes a jewelry designer/entrepreneur may be trying to do too many things – their target niche may be too broad. As the Shopify post said it so well, “when your target customer is ‘everyone’, it’s really nobody.” You have to get really specific about who your most important customer is. Do you really know who they are and what they want? If not, you may need to do some surveys or other research. If you think you’re ok on this front, your business may still lack focus. Are you trying to do too many things, or be the best at too many things? If so, you may need to refresh your business plan and really get specific about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
· Create a New Marketing Plan
Are you making the most of social media? Is your web site optimized and appearing in searches where customers are trying to find you? Have you done your homework on market research? A new marketing plan can give you a fresh start.
· Take More Risks
Especially when you feel your business may be failing, you will likely be tempted to play it safe, keep costs down, and even fold up your tent and go home. But did you know that taking a bold risk could be the best way to save a dying business? After all, you have less to lose if your business is falling apart anyway. Why be conservative when you can always try new and crazy things? Maybe it’s a new line you’ve been thinking about, pricier materials, a new selling venue, or a radically different advertising plan. Whatever you think will work, it may be better than having to actually give up what you’ve been working so hard for all these years...
· Take SOME sort of Action
If you’ve determined your business is on its last legs, be proactive. Don’t wait for anything worse to happen before you take preventative action and fix big problems. Every jewelry entrepreneur is faced with challenges – a failing business is just one. Even if you fail despite all of your efforts, take it as a learning experience. Lots of entrepreneurs have multiple failures before a successful venture. If you have a vision, keep your chin up, and keep slugging!
Until Next Time,