The insatiable global demand for PET plastic bottles continues to rise every year

As a bottling solution it is undeniable that PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic has the upper hand over all other alternatives such as glass and metal.

Plastic has an array of qualities that make it an irresistible option for many brand owners, and which include light weight, minimal wastage, versatility, ability to take attractive and unique designs, and a carbon neutral footprint.

Taking all this into perspective, things can only be expected to get better for the growing PET plastic bottle manufacturing industry, and indeed the wider plastics industry.

There are lots of numbers in support of this position.

A study by Research and Markets found that the 2014 global production of plastic containers stood at 50.1 Million Metric Tons (MMT). By 2020 this is expected to rise to 67.9 MMT. That 2014 figure was worth $273.15 billion; the 2020 figure is expected to be $388.35 billion.

As a sector, the plastic bottle manufacturing gross output has been showing steady growth over the years as can be seen in the chart below:

Source

The growth pattern is still on the up in 2017.

Research shows that plastic bottles and jars constitute an estimated 75% of all plastic containers by weight. Also, PET and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) make up 86% of the plastic container market.

The same report also indicates that PET is currently a favorite for bottlers as its use results in cost savings for raw polymers, energy and transportation. Their PET bottle designs are a hit with their customers considering their attractive packaging and sustainability qualities.

Of note is that PET plastic bottles are increasingly being used for beer bottling.

All these details make for exciting prospects but there is a caveat for anyone intent on launching a PET plastic bottle manufacturing small business: there is a lot of competition. As such, you’ll have to do all you can to make every aspect of your business competitive.

Here’s some of what you must know when getting started:

PET is the acronym for Polyethylene Terephthalate

1. What exactly is PET?

PET, also abbreviated as PETE, stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate, commonly known as polyester.

For the chemistry-inclined the structure for a PET molecule looks like this:

Source

PET was first synthesized in the mid-1940s by the chemists at DuPont who were seeking to create a new synthetic fiber. They named the fiber they produced “Dacron”; this is what we now know as “Polyester”. Where the same molecule is used for making containers it is known as PET or PET resin.

The PET bottle was patented in 1973 by chemist Nathaniel Wyeth; four years later the first PET bottle was recycled and converted into a bottle base cup. Thereafter, more recycling uses have been developed. PET bottles are now recycled into carpets, textiles and non-wovens.

Lots of research has gone into ensuring that PET bottle manufacturing reflects today’s environmental concerns. The effort is definitely very promising.

For example, just 35 grams of raw material is used to create a 1.5 liter PET bottle.

This PET raw material, aka PET resin, is supplied by resin manufacturers in the form of tiny pellets, with each pellet weighing approximately 0.05 g.

PET plastic bottles offer a range of qualities suitable for both manufacturers and consumers

2. Qualities and reasons why PET is preferred for making bottles

Some of the reasons why PET is an ideal packaging material include:

  • Excellent clarity thus making it ideal for product presentation
  • It does not alter product taste – thereby complying with international food contact regulations
  • Structural toughness which prevents breakage during production, warehousing and transportation
  • It is shatter-proof. In the event of failure a container will split but not shatter
  • It has high impact and tensile strength and therefore ideal for carbonated products which exert high pressure inside containers
  • It has low permeability to oxygen, carbon dioxide and water thus ably protecting product and assuring shelf life
  • Good chemical resistance
  • It’s lightweight. This allows for cheaper shipping, excellent shelf utilization and sufficient stacking
  • Zero-leakage of PET bottles. This is as a result of having an injection-molded neck finish and a base that doesn’t feature a weld line
  • It allows for a wide range of design flexibility in terms of size, shape, color, neck finish, etc
  • It is completely recyclable

Customers want to work with plastic bottle manufacturers who’ll meet and exceed their expectations

3. Understand what customers look for in a plastic bottle manufacturer

Anyone in the market for a PET plastic bottle manufacturing service approaches the matter with a view to getting a solution that will work best in helping them to achieve their overall objective.

Knowing what customers require, therefore, will, from the onset, enable you to optimally position yourself as a go-to PET bottle manufacturer, in effect giving your business a fighting chance in a crowded market.

Customers want to know:

  • Whether to source PET bottles locally or from overseas. While bottles can be much cheaper overseas one will still need to factor in substantial shipping costs
  • What types of plastics a manufacturer uses to produce bottles. This is informed by the intended use of the bottle
  • Whether or not a manufacturer will provide closures for the bottles. If so, what types of closures are available? If not, where will closures be acquired?
  • What to go for i.e. readymade or custom-designed bottles
  • What the minimum order level of bottles is
  • Whether or not a manufacturer is capable of printing and/or labeling the bottles as per a customer’s requirements
  • Whether or not a manufacturer is capable of meeting the legal requirements and industry standards for the production of certain type of bottles
  • The options available to them in case the bottles fail to meet quality requirements or if batches are not delivered on time
  • What track record and reputation a manufacturer has in the market

4. The two PET bottle manufacturing techniques

There are two methods of producing PET plastic bottles:

  1. One-step aka “hot perform” method
  2. Two-step aka “cold perform” method

For both techniques the production process can be illustrated as follows:

Source

The only difference between the two processes is that the one-step technique machine makes its own preforms (the orange test tube-like object shown in step 1) but the two-step technique utilizes readymade preforms previously created via injection molding.

5. More details about the one-step method

The one-step method involves a single integrated machine that performs all the 3 or 4 required steps involved in creating a PET bottle as follows:

  • Injection
  • (Conditioning / temperature adjusting)
  • Stretch-blowing
  • Container ejection

Source

Seeing as the PET raw material has to remain in elastic form for the entire process, temperatures inside the machine are constantly high. However, the one-step method results in higher energy savings, compared to the two-step method, because heating is only done once i.e. when the raw material is being converted into a preform.

Also, because individual preforms don’t come into contact with foreign objects during the process, the resulting bottle almost always has a glossy and unblemished surface.

Importantly, the one-step process results in lower output than the two-step process but the cost of the machine used is substantially cheaper than the investment required to acquire the two machines used in the two-step process.

This is the process to use in case you want to easily mold other material types, in addition to PET. Some of these other materials include Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Napthalate (PEN), Polycarbonate (PC) and Recycled PET.

Note that for PET production the one-step machine requires a number of support equipment including:

  • Dehumidifying resin dryer
  • Mold Chiller (8°C to 14°C range)
  • Cooling Tower to provide water for non-critical cooling at 25°C to 30°C
  • Compressors supplying air for operation (0.9MPa) and for blowing (up to 3.4MPa)
  • Mold Dehumidifier (depends on local ambient conditions)
  • Mold Temperature Controller unit (depends on container design)

Just to recap, the one-step process is characterized by the following:

  • Lower electricity consumption
  • Lower resource requirements because preforms don’t have to be packed, stored and transported
  • A cycle speed of roughly 43 seconds

The one-step technique allows for versatility in design

  • Suitability for the production of all container types, regardless of weight and neck design, as one isn’t only restricted to the preforms currently available in the market

The one-step technique essentially assures you of a glossy finish

  • Superior bottle gloss and clarity; surface deterioration due to preform storage and transport is out of the question
  • A single machine can produce a wide variety of bottle and container designs. This includes non-standard shape requirements e.g. oval and off-center containers which are the norm for the cosmetics industry. It also includes clip-on or specialized handle designs.
  • The need for peripheral equipment
  • Difficulty in assessing preform quality before blow molding – this requires the equipment operator to be seasoned enough and thus able to determine when and where defects are occurring

6. More details about the two-step method

For the two-step process, also known as re-heat stretch blow molding, two separate machines are used:

  1. An injection molding machine to produce preforms
  2. A reheat blowing machine (RHB) to convert the preforms into bottles as shown below

Source

This requirement allows companies to either acquire both machines and do everything in-house OR just purchase preforms for in-house processing.

The option of doing everything in-house results in energy losses because heat is lost during the transfer of the preforms to the RHB where they have to be reheated.

Note that the RHB machine is relatively expensive.

It is also 200% more efficient than the one-step machine and capable of reducing cycle speed by as much as 22%.

For these reasons, the two-step process is ideal for large scale production of PET bottles, such as in soda bottling. Such bottles are characterized by uniform thickness and light weight.

There are some noteworthy concerns about the two-step process:

  • Due to preform transfer the resulting PET bottles and containers will typically have blemished surfaces
  • During the reheating of preforms the difference in internal and external temperatures limits the scope of blow molding. As a result there is difficulty in producing square bottles, flat bottles, and bottles with handles
  • It’s impossible to orient necks unless you put a notch into the preform transfer bead
  • The preforms must have a neck bead in order to be transferred into the RHB
  • Molding alternative materials isn’t as easy as when using the one-step process

7. Which of the two will suit your business model best?

In choosing between the one-step and two-step production processes for your plastic PET bottle small business you have to consider your potential products’ specific circumstances and requirements.

You also have to think about factors such as capital costs, preform availability, container volumes and technical difficulty.

Issues including productivity, product application, energy consumption, efficiency, machine footprint and environmental concerns must also be weighed.

Nevertheless, the comparison given above is quite telling.

For a new PET bottle manufacturer seeking to make headway in a crowded industry, it is rather obvious that one-step PET bottle production is the way to go.

This will give you much more versatility unlike in the two-step production scenario where you’ll be contending against bigger players who are better suited for higher output production, stiff competition and low profit margins.

For the purpose of this guide, therefore, the assumption is that your business will employ one-step PET bottle production.

The one-step technique is ideal for extreme bottle designs

8. About new bottle designs and obtaining molds

As has been observed previously, one-step production is ideal for producing non-standard bottle shapes. It’s also suitable for low outputs.

These two qualities will combine to give your PET bottle manufacturing business a measure of versatility and flexibility that’ll allow you to find and serve customers who have markedly different product requirements.

Catering to such customers will of course entail the production of completely new bottle designs as determined by individual specifications.

This will in turn require you to procure new molds designed to create the required bottles and preforms designs.

9. Issues to be considered when designing a new PET bottle, corresponding preform, and mold

In designing a new PET bottle, structural qualities are given priority over aesthetics.

The following illustrations will help to clarify why this is so and why it’s vital to consult experienced bottle designers:

  • A bottle intended to store a carbonated drink must be able to withstand the carbon dioxide pressure (typically 4 atmospheres) and maintain shape during storage (which involves stacking). Such a bottle must therefore have the required wall thickness, base design and adequate top load strength.
  • A bottle intended for packaging juice or other perishable should be able to withstand hot-filling conditions that would cause a standard PET bottle to shrink and deform.
  • Where a bottle is designed to be lightweight with an aim to lower production costs, provisions must be made to assure its rigidity. Ribs/ridges can be added in this case to prevent collapsing.

Ribs/ridges are used to strengthen PET bottle structure

For the preform, it’s important to select the most appropriate design in order to assure the success of the new bottle design. Some of the factors that come into play here include:

  • Having preform dimensions that will complement bottle dimensions and resin stretch ratios
  • Required neck finish and part weight
  • Preform length as determined by bottle height and axial stretch ratio
  • Preform core (inside) diameter as determined by bottle diameter and hoop stretch ratio
  • Design of preform transition region (between its neck straight and body) as determined by factors such as bottle shoulder shape and preform mold stack design

The excellent neck finish indicates that the preform design was top-notch

Having arrived at a workable bottle design, a model of the same is created by means of computer-aided design (CAD). This document illustrates how a 1 Lt. PET bottle can be designed by this means.

Using the new bottle design a mold will be produced.

Molds are commonly produced from hot die steel materials considering their capacity for toughness, ductility and high hardness.

The procedure will involve the following:

  • Selection of appropriate material followed by surface grinding
  • Computer programming and preparation for CNC machine production
  • Production of the mold followed by heat treatment and hand-polishing of its components
  • Mold assembling and then installation on the one-step machine
  • Testing

10. Production of PET plastic bottles, possible defects, and possible production challenges and risks

The graphic in point no.4 is but a representation of how a blow molding machine converts a preform into a bottle.

The process is not so straight-forward in reality. Various factors and practices must be correctly applied to ensure successful PET bottle production.

Your operation will therefore have to prioritize the following blow molding requirements:

  • Insisting on accurate preform and bottle designs
  • Using the right grade of PET resin pellets
  • Making high-quality preforms using excellent injection molding technique
  • Ensuring that the preform has the required temperature profile before it’s transferred to the blow molding stage
  • Ensuring that all stages (stretch, pre-blow and blow) are perfectly timed
  • Ensuring that the equipment and molds are in good condition and in compliance with GMP and OSHA requirements
  • Ensuring that peripheral services including chilled water and compressed air are adequately supplied

Some of the defects you may encounter during production include:

  • Production of Acetaldehyde (AA) in which case an acidic taste (similar to citrus fruits) is imparted to the liquid in the bottle. This can have disastrous consequences especially where the liquid concerned, e.g. water, cannot mask this taste. AA production occurs alongside PET production when the temperature of the preforms injection molding exceeds 260°
  • This and other technical defects are explained here.
  • Defects that can result from production negligence e.g. leakage, poor tensile strength, undesired shapes and sizes, uneven thickness, etc.

The following can interfere with your otherwise efficient production schedule:

  • Electricity outages
  • Equipment breakdown, more so the peripheral machines
  • Equipment servicing routine visit
  • Industrial action and other situations affecting labor availability
  • Bank holidays

The risks involved in running a PET plastic manufacturing outfit can generally be placed under four categories i.e.:

  1. Health and safety – Exposures that can result in injury or illness
  2. Property exposures – These are related to fire (equipment malfunction, flammable materials, etc.) and damage to key components e.g. molds
  3. Product safety and the complications/legalities that arise from doing business globally e.g. product standards and regulations, third-party transfers, etc.
  4. Risks involving transactions and online information transfer

Any underwriter willing to insure your PET manufacturing small business will most likely refer to a checklist like this which highlights various physical damage and time element exposures.

Determining the unit cost of a PET bottle will help you create a profitable pricing strategy

11. How to run a profitable PET plastic bottle manufacturing small business

Perhaps the best way to approach this would be to calculate how much you will use to manufacture a single PET plastic bottle.

Having obtained this figure you will be able to set a price that will offset your production costs and give you a healthy profit margin.

With the help of such a bottle cost estimator that takes into account factors like capital machinery, leasehold improvements, production calculations, labor assumptions, resin cost, electrical operating cost, depreciation and interest rate, you can actually have a pricing strategy that is based on a well informed standpoint.

Profitability will of course require you to minimize production defects and uphold blow molding good practices.

It’s essential to market your plastic PET bottles to the right audience…this doesn’t look like it!

12. Marketing your PET plastic bottle manufacturing small business

Whatever marketing strategy you plan on employing there is one inescapable fact about the plastics manufacturing industry: It is highly competitive and features big players with massive brand recognition and small players with aggressive pricing strategies.

Strategies for breaking into the PET plastic bottle market will obviously differ.

Nevertheless, in as far as your digital marketing strategy will be concerned, knowing the following will be helpful:

  • The two top channels that industry B2B marketers use to generate revenue and drive leads are email and organic search
  • Industry B2B buying habits reveal that substantial online research precedes offline work-related purchases. This is therefore your cue to have an online presence and omni-channel capacity
  • The top five website requirements that industry B2B buyers check for are pricing information, technical support details, helpful content, shipping information and a testimonials/client list
  • The top content marketing tactics that manufacturers use to connect with their target audiences are illustrations/photos, video, in-person events, social media content (excluding blogs) and e-Newsletters
Advertisements

Lots of people love handmade jewelry. There’ll be numerous opportunities for your small business.

Thanks to the innate desire to decorate ourselves, humans have worn jewelry for eons.

In fact, evidence of adornment goes back so much further than the organized jewelry production in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia; there is evidence of Nassarius shells beadwork made 100,000 years ago!

If you therefore are one of those creative types that love to tinker with stuff only to turn it into a catchy item of jewelry moments later, you’re rightfully taking your place in the long line of craftsmen that have every now and then been inspiring awe in the rest of us.

Well, how about inspiring awe and earning money while doing it?

There’s certainly plenty of motivation to do so, in addition to turning what you have a genuine passion for into an entrepreneurial pursuit.

Statistics indicate that this is an industry on the rise.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, total spend on jewelry and watches in 2016 was a record $85.4 billion, up 6% from the 2015 spend of $80.6 billion.

In perspective, the 2016 global spend on jewelry was $316 billion, further cementing the U.S. as the most mature jewelry market.

Internet jewelry retail sales in 2016 totaled $19 billion, a very significant rise from the $9 billion made in 2011.

It’s worth noting that these figures represent fine jewelry and fashion/costume jewelry; the latter is what you’ll be making.

Analysts predict that the costume jewelry global market will be worth $41.7 billion by 2022, spurred by a timeless penchant for personal adornment and an increasing preference for stylish affordable jewelry. Here are 10 reasons why this forecast can become a reality.

In terms of U.S. jewelry sales, this 2015 chart will help show the category your business will fall under:

Source

These charts from a 2012 survey of Etsy shoppers should also provide important insights:

Source

In my opinion the outlook and prospects are quite positive.

As such, despite the industry being crowded, chances are that your handmade jewelry small business can find a spot and thrive.

So, how do you get started?

The need to preserve valuable family heirlooms gave rise to costume jewelry

1. Understand what you’ll be making

The sort of handmade adornments you’ll be making will be either costume jewelry or fashion jewelry or both. The two are essentially similar but differ by time period and use.

Costume jewelry came to prominence in the 1930s when women commissioned jewelers to create replicas of their pricey heirlooms. It was obviously less risky to wear these replicas.

With time this creation of faux jewelry rose in popularity as it gave women the ability to diversify their jewelry collections at an affordable cost. This was also an opportunity for less moneyed women to own pieces of their own. Back then women bought and wore jewelry to accessorize individual outfits.

Fashion jewelry was popularized by the young women of the 1980s. These pieces are more outgoing than their predecessors and are used for multiple outfits. Also, unlike costume jewelry, their designs change constantly in response to new trends. Their affordability ensures that ladies can spend money on pieces that will only be fashionable for two seasons at most.

Some of the materials used to make costume and fashion jewelry include plated metals, pewter, aluminum, nickel, rhinestones, colored glass, plastic beads, acrylic beads, non-precious stones, cubic zirconia and Swarovski crystals.

A third category would be the sort of jewelry made from mixing items (such as metal, textile, 3D printing, wood, etc.), pieces matching the definition of art, and pieces produced through skilled craftsmanship. These are generally uniquely designed one-of-a-kind pieces.

The lady definitely loves matching her jewelry!

2. Define your ideal customer

It’s vital to carve out a niche for your jewelry; trying to be everything to everyone is ineffective because you’ll be spreading yourself too thin – a mistake you want to avoid.

Knowing the following about different types of jewelry-wearing personalities will be vital in identifying your ideal customers:

  • Down-to-earth – These are generally nature-loving people. They are drawn to pieces inspired by nature and themes like recycling. They love jewelry with earthy tones like brown, ocean blue, forest green and beige.
  • Fun-loving – These are typically cheery, bubbly and socially-active persons who other people tend to be drawn to at parties. Their choice of jewelry includes big hoop earrings, ornate rings and thick statement necklaces.
  • Classic elegance – These are more or less traditionalists, focused on family, and whose idea of a night out is a quiet gathering of close friends. For jewelry they love simple but elegant pieces like pearl necklaces and earrings.
  • Best of the best – For these people everything is chosen carefully and with much attention to detail. They are very specific about what they want and will rarely deviate or settle for alternatives.
  • Color-coordinated / matchy-matchy people – When buying jewelry these people intend it to match pieces they already own and/or match it with specific outfits and shoes.
  • Trendsetters – Their choice of jewelry stands out for its rarity and uniqueness; current trends and brand names are the least of their concern.
  • Wash and wear – They have an active lifestyle and they therefore go for jewelry that matches their energy such as tennis bracelets and necklaces with light pendants.

In terms of age, research shows that jewelry spend peaks during two periods of life: the mid-20s to mid-30s and between age 55 and 64 i.e. marriage age and maximum earning power respectively. Nevertheless, jewelry is purchased by consumers of all ages; age is therefore not an accurate predictor of expenditure.

Formal event jewelry is classy

3. Define the occasions when your jewelry can be worn

Jewelry is also defined by its suitability for different occasions as follows:

  • Casual jewelry – These are easy-to-wear and mildly flashy pieces ideal for casual occasions like brunch, weekends and outdoor activities
  • Work jewelry – By being subtle and refined these pieces will complement the professional appearance ideal for the workplace, job interviews and lunch dates
  • Party jewelry – These are typically flashy and chunky pieces that are used to jazz up the stylish outfits worn at cocktail and dinner parties
  • Formal event jewelry – Such are timeless classics reserved for special occasions, like weddings and galas, when a lady needs to look stunning
  • Drawer essentials – The emphasis here is on jewelry that is simple and versatile enough to be adequate for both daily use and different occasions in the year

Your target customer/s will want to know which of their jewelry requirements you can be relied on to satisfy. You will therefore need to decide what to focus on; will you be a specialist or will you cater to multiple preferences?

Mother Nature is really good at providing inspiration for new ideas

4. Find sources of inspiration for designing your pieces

As a new entrant into the market your chances of success will heavily depend on your ability to launch a product collection that has its own identity and aesthetic. Achieving this sort of uniqueness will be instrumental in helping you to develop your brand.

So, what are the possible sources of inspiration for your jewelry?

Well, ideas are to be found just about everywhere you look. Nevertheless, singling something out from this very vast abundance can be rather difficult for newbies.

Don’t worry though; you’ll be in good company. Even successful seasoned designers, like Boodle’s head of design Rebecca Hawkins, often find inspiration when they least expect it.

This series of articles by Susanne Kathol describes how you can use seven principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, proportion, contrast, unity and harmony) to find jewelry-making inspiration.

Keeping an eye on the top brands is one way of studying jewelry trends

5. Keep things fresh by observing industry trends

Even if your handmade jewelry is focused on classic elegance, or based on personal style, it’ll be important for your collections to constantly evolve. Costume jewelry has an estimated in-fashion period of 4-6 months; you have to keep bringing new stuff to your displays.

Keeping up with the trends isn’t about copying but leveraging and capitalizing on them to get ideas for new creations.

For example, this list of the 10 best jewelry trends for 2017 can give you a handful of ideas.

To stay on top of upcoming trends your options include:

  • Following fashion forecasters online
  • Following industry news and attending trade events
  • Checking out consumer magazines and media
  • Getting inspiration from trendsetters and influencers
  • Getting inspiration from top brands

Perhaps the black wrap is the jeweler’s signature?

6. Defining your overall signature

In the early days you’ll most probably be churning out pieces that have an assortment of influences simply because you are trying to apply everything you’ve learned. At this stage it’s quite possible that you won’t be able to identify jewelry you’ve made.

As time goes by though, the onus will be on you to define your work by creating a signature for it.

A look at the work of famous establishments like Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston and Bvlgari will reveal particular elements that help to distinguish them from others. Away from the jewelry scene you may think about the red soles on every pair of Christian Louboutin heels.

It is these signatures that customers relate to; they know what to expect every time they make a purchase.

Of note is the fact that all these brands developed their signatures early. You’ll therefore need to start thinking about it soon; you’ve got a brand to develop and it will take time.

There are various way to go about creating your signature, including punching your initials on metal jewelry tags or always threading an identical bead at the same place on your jewelry. The choice is yours; it all depends on your creativity.

Here are five approaches to signature creation you may want to consider.

7. Start defining your brand

Steps 1-6 above are the foundation for this important stage of your handmade jewelry small business’ journey.

Branding is so much more than the logos, icons and ads that we associate with successful brands; branding expert Pamela Wilson defines it succinctly: it’s what people think (and feel) about a business.

From this statement you should realize that defining your brand will take into account every manner in which your business interacts with customers, including products and quality, customer service and marketing efforts.

This will obviously require an intense effort over a long period of time.

There’s one exclusive advantage that you have over every other business out there though – you and your product are unique. It follows that only you can create the brand you want and make a success of it.

There are a number of things you must do to achieve this and they’re described here; notice that with the exception of coming up with a brand name and brand story everything else has been covered in steps 1-6.

In addition, you definitely need to read successful jeweler Tracy Matthews’ post about the seven qualities all thriving jewelry brands share.

Jewelry design ideas can be communicated better with sketches and drawings

8. Get comfortable with product design

There are a slew of reasons why you need to be able to draw your own jewelry designs.

Perhaps a prospective customer really loves your work but wants you to create something unique for her. Regardless of how well she describes her dream piece you’ll have nothing much to go on except the concept in your imagination.

Perhaps the best you can do in this situation is actually creating the piece and then have the client critique it. At the end the two of you may have to settle for a compromise; not so rewarding.

And don’t even get started about the time and expenses that will have been involved.

Alternatively, your business may find success early and in a bid to service all your orders you are compelled to hire a team.

For both situations accurate sketches of your designs will make your work so much easier.

Product design using pencil and paper is only the beginning. From here you can graduate to jewelry design templates and bead design boards. Later you can start rendering your designs with 2D or 3D design software.

In this article the three elements of proper jewelry design drawing i.e. perspective, scale and proportions, and wearability and comfort, are discussed. Jewelry rendering using pencils and paint has been superbly described in this guide.

This is one of the tools you’ll be seeing a lot…

9. Actual production of your handmade jewelry

For the purposes of this post the emphasis is on creating both fashion jewelry and costume jewelry.

Just about anyone can do this; no special training is required. Once you have gathered the supplies and the required tools you are good to go. It’s all about assembling different pieces in the best way you can; only your creativity and imagination will set you apart from the next jeweler.

This WikiHow post pretty much covers everything you’ll be doing when you get started as does this 4-part handmade jewelry-making guide.

As the business grows and demand for your handmade jewelry increases you may want to consider concentrating on the design aspects of your business and have the manufacturing done elsewhere.

Outsourcing will prove to be cost-effective if you have bulky orders; the challenge is to find a company that can produce the quality of work you desire.

You have two options here – local manufacturing OR overseas manufacturing – and each has its pros and cons.

Jewelry-making supplies are everywhere; do you know where to buy them though?

10. Where and how to buy your supplies

Knowing where to buy materials and supplies is crucially important for two reasons: you need a wide range of high quality supplies and they have to fit in your pricing strategy.

Like for any other business, you can’t rely on a single supplier; you always have to keep looking for the best bargains.

Perhaps the first thing you need to do is ensure that your handmade jewelry business has a sales tax license. With this, and an ability to meet a wholesale store’s minimum order amount, you’ll be able to purchase your supplies at wholesale prices – greatly improving your hopes of breaking even and becoming profitable.

Visiting bead shows and expos is another option worth considering – if only just to sample the amazing variety of materials the different vendors will be selling.

Flea markets, estate sales and thrift stores can also be the source of some interesting supplies, and where you’ll have the added advantage of paying secondhand prices.

On the other hand, you can opt to make your purchases online and enjoy the convenience of doing so. Some of the more prominent suppliers include: Beads.US, Alibaba, Rio Grande, Fire Mountain Gems and Wholesale Jewelry Supply Co.

Lorelei Eurto has put together a superb post listing various vendors of packaging supplies, business cards, wire, tools, brass findings, and beads and supplies. You can also go here for a guide to buying charms.

Last but not least, always reach out to other designers to find out where they buy their supplies.

NB: When buying tools prioritize the following: round-nosed pliers, half-round (flat-nosed) pliers, side cutters, multipliers, crimping pliers, memory wire cutters and snippers. Learn more here.

The threads you must become familiar with include: leather thong, Nymo loom thread, Super Ion D, Wildfire, cotton thong (aka bootlace or veggie leather), silk thread, nylon thread, waxed thread, and beading wires e.g. Beadalon and Tigertail. Learn more here.

Good ventilation and lighting are vital for all jewelry studios

11. Setting up your jewelry studio/workshop

In the initial stages of your small business, your first studio can be really minimal – all you need is some space, a tray, and a table or desk. This should suffice for your beadwork, wirework and tools storage.

Once things really get going you’ll obviously need to find a bigger space to accommodate the team and replicate your initial setup multiple times. This will be an opportune time to invest in suitable containers and storage for your various supplies and tools to ensure that everything is well organized.

Other investments you may have to consider include a bench that’s sturdy enough for hammering and clamping purposes. In case the bench will also be used for soldering work it will be prudent to place a fire-proof surface under the solder board thereby protecting the bench from damage.

Overall, there are six requirements that your jewelry studio has to comply with i.e. proper ventilation, lighting, furniture, maneuverability, safety and storage. Read more about these here and here.

12. Considerations for hiring

When entrepreneurs launch their startups they are usually in charge of every aspect of the business. With success comes the need to hire extra hands.

In this article, Megan Auman discusses how to go about hiring your first employee.

Basically, you first need to determine the employee’s job description. The idea here is to identify the tasks you are comfortable delegating and the ones you know require your personal attention. It’s likely that you’ll delegate production in order to concentrate on design ideas.

Megan further highlights the need to be sure you can afford to hire, as well as the importance of having cash reserves just in case your sales targets won’t be achieved for a few months.

Instead of employees you can opt for virtual assistants. They are ideal for handling routine tasks that would otherwise keep you from achieving optimal productivity.

Using a white background is preferable when photographing jewelry for your online store

13. Take jewelry product photography very seriously

One of the prerequisites for successfully selling your handmade jewelry online is to go for stellar photography.

In the early days it’s understandable that you may not have enough money. Fortunately, all you’ll need to take great photos is your iPhone and the right DIY technique.

Later on it’s advisable to hire a professional setup including photographer, lighting, models, and even makeup artists and stylists.

Learn more about product photography here and then discover common photography mistakes you must avoid here.

Wire wrapping is one of the many skills you can learn

14. Diversifying your set of skills

Taking time to learn new jewelry-making skills will ensure that your small business can offer its customers more variety, or at least distinctly unique costume/fashion jewelry.

Some of the new areas you can explore include: wax carving, wood jewelry, fabric jewelry, silver jewelry, stone setting and wire wrapping.

You can also opt to learn about how to create jewelry using Perspex, fused glass, resin, polymer clay and metal clay.

An online search will provide details of online classes, tutorials and resources that’ll help to get you started. Alternatively, you can register for local training programs and workshops.

You must invest in good displays for selling jewelry offline

15. The art of selling jewelry

As an ambitious handmade jewelry small business owner you are most likely very drawn to the thought of selling your stuff online. This is understandable – we are in the e-commerce age.

Nevertheless, if you are one of those to whom growing small and constantly validating your ideas make sense, there are other options you may consider exploring first well before making your online debut.

  • A car boot sale – While this may seem unglamorous it is a time-proven way to get eyeballs on your merchandise across the country. Your participation in these sales shouldn’t necessarily be about making money but validation and learning.
  • Jewelry home parties – Find out how you can get invited to one or make arrangements with a party organizer to have one hosted in your house. Either way you’ll have access to a captive audience, a good number of who will feel obligated to buy. Don’t expect too much in profit. This is a perfect place to impress, get people talking (word-of-mouth), and hand out business cards.
  • Fairs, events and festivals – At these venues you can hire a stall or spread out a fold-up table or two and display your jewelry. People attending these events are usually prepared to spend some money so you can expect to make some sales. You however need to ensure that the demographic there matches your ideal customer’s profile.
  • Pop Up Shops – These are a great way to generate buzz for your handmade jewelry and validate your concepts.
  • Market selling – After getting some much needed exposure (and some money) at car boot sales and fairs you can now take your game to the markets. Expect to make good sales here.

Fully confident that your handmade jewelry small business can thrive, and with systems that work already in place, you can now try taking your merchandise online.

Getting started is easy and there are many places to do so.

This excellent guide details the steps you’ll take when setting your online store at Shopify. Helpful insights from the success story of Biko founder Corrine Anestopoulos and tips from Hawkly founder Gillian Johnson are provided.

For incredible advice about starting your jewelry business you really must read this detailed guide. Just about everything you need to know is covered here; the author has 20+ years experience in the industry and this guide makes for really good reading.

 

 

 

High customer churn shatters entrepreneurial ambitions

According to a study by Bain & Company, to increase your business’ profits by 25% to 95% you just need to increase your customer retention rate by 5%.

Evidently, your existing customers are more valuable than new ones.

High customer churn is nevertheless a persistent problem for many small businesses.

Here are some of the reasons why you are unable to retain your customers.

1. Inconsistency

If you are such a chameleon that customers don’t know what to expect they’ll soon leave you in search of consistency.

Think about it.

You most likely have a favorite restaurant, clothes shop, shoe store, dentist, plumber, and so on.

For whatever you require it is likely that you have a go-to person or place that immediately comes to mind when the need arises, one that you have given your business to for years perhaps.

This wouldn’t be the case if the service offered was not of consistently good quality. You’d have explored your options long ago if you didn’t perceive the service provided as value for money.

Customers therefore need to see consistency in your small business. They love to know that they can expect a consistent quality of service at your establishment come rain or shine.

They also love to know that this will still be the case when you expand the business. This is the reason why giant franchises like McDonalds are hugely successful.

2. Operating incognito

If your business doesn’t stand out customers may very soon forget that it exists.

Given the crowded nature of the marketplace your small business must jostle with the competition for customers’ attention. Your failure to do this is akin to operating without an identity and is really business suicide.

Today’s customer has lots of options to choose from and if you don’t stand out chances are that you’ll be easily and swiftly forgotten.

As such, you need to find effective ways of reaching out to your target customers on a regular basis.

3. Pushy behavior

Don’t overdo it; customers despise desperate pushy salesmanship.

Smart spending is the name of the game today. Customers are also well knowledgeable about what they need.

While upselling is a smart way to make more sales, going about it blindly may be one of the reasons why a good number of your customers have been steadily disappearing.

Knowing what a regular customer needs, you should strive to meet those needs – period.

Perhaps the only suggestion worth making has to do with introducing a new product/service that is clearly an improvement on what the customer is used to.

Anything else will feel pushy, something that customers really detest.

4. Failing to reward loyalty

Expect loyal customers to start trooping away if they feel you are too much of a scrooge to appreciate them.

While you may need to offer incentives and/or discounts in order to land new customers, you shouldn’t forget those regular customers whose continued business support is what is enabling you to make such gestures.

Regular customers develop a sort of entitlement and rightfully so.

Failure to reward their loyalty every now and then will only cause them to feel unappreciated.

Once this feeling morphs into resentment there’s little you can do or say to make them stay.

5. Your insistence on charging the lowest prices

Unfortunately, solely competing on the lowest price will likely have the rumor mills abuzz with doubts about your products.

Customers love a good bargain and getting good value for their money. Accordingly, the price has to feel right.

This in turn requires a combination of factors including service quality and the buyer-seller relationship, in addition to the price tag.

Basing your competitive advantage solely on the lowest price therefore just won’t do.

Furthermore, customers are typically skeptical about such prices as they are associated with low quality products, knockoffs and stolen merchandise.

Once doubts are cast about the quality or source of your product you are bound to start losing customers.

6. High turnover of key employees

With the loss of key employees comes the risk of losing customers…and sales volumes and opportunities

In most cases it is a business’ employees who deal with customers. Key employees therefore get to create and sustain relationships with customers. These employees typically have long lists of contacts which include the customers who bring you much business.

Accordingly, frequently losing such employees won’t augur well for your business.

Given that such employees tend to move with their contacts to their new workplaces, your business is bound to suffer the effects of high customer turnover regularly.

The onus is on you therefore to make contingency plans for key employee turnover.

7. Ignoring customer feedback

Your business just can’t afford to ignore customers’ feedback!

Every now and then people talk about where they spend their money. They speak highly of a business where they enjoyed the shopping experience and vice versa.

The conversation is even bigger online. A single positive review can help to bring you new business from people across the globe. Likewise, a negative remark can result in a considerable loss of customers.

You must therefore always be in the know about your customers’ feedback. This way you can promptly and appropriately issue suitable responses and/or take action.

8. Ineffective problem resolution

If customers think you are unable to solve their problems promptly and decisively they’ll soon find someone who can…

Problems involving customers often arise in business and when they do they need to be resolved with speed and decisiveness.

Quite nothing irritates customers like a long drawn resolution process for a problem or complaint whose solution feels rather obvious.

Customers hate being inconvenienced – some will wait, some won’t.

One thing you can be sure of though, you’ll probably never see them again.

9. Inflexibility

Don’t be excessively rigid with your policies; try to accommodate your customers needs and keep them happy.

Having and sticking to certain business procedures and policies is all well and good but may in some cases prove to be counterproductive.

Perhaps you prefer to sell a certain minimum level of product or make deliveries only to a certain distance radius. It could be that your customer service procedure is too bureaucratic and slow for customers’ liking.

Some of your customers will obviously take their business to your competitors who aren’t likewise restricted.

10. Inefficiency and excuses

Customers truly hate inefficiency and excuses – try to exceed their expectations instead…

When customers bring their business to you they trust that you can get the job done.

Your failure to complete the job within the agreed-on time and budget raises a red flag for customers but if the reason for this seems logical they may be willing to cut you some slack.

Several delays later your reasons become excuses – you can be sure that the concerned customers are already telling themselves “Never again”.

Don’t panic when you don’t see them again; 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service.

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Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy

In mid 2015 Google announced that mobile-friendly websites will be rewarded with higher rankings on searches done using mobile devices. Ranking higher definitely means more exposure for your small business.

The latest consumer statistics show that Smartphones and emerging mobile devices e.g. Smartwatches are increasingly becoming more popular for purposes of searching the internet. Clearly, more mobile visitors are what entrepreneurs need in order to boost sales volumes. Accordingly, it’s well worth knowing just how to go about doing this…the infographic below will help you do exactly that.

How to Get More Sales From Your Mobile Visitors
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

While it’s good to know that having a mobile-friendly website will help to enhance the success of your small business, it’s definitely worth appreciating the fact that you also need to work smart. You see, spending more of your time working doesn’t always mean you’ll be successful.

The key to being a successful person is not working more, but working less and working smarter. If you want to be successful, get more done, and work less, take some time to learn from these 7 practices of successful people.

How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done

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A legitimate business has essentially satisfied all the criteria set by relevant authorities

Before your business idea becomes a legally recognized startup, an assortment of federal regulations, registrations, licenses, and permits must be complied with.

Granted that different forms of business exist, all with varying requirements, having a clear overall picture of what’s required will save you much time and effort.

Get ready to share details about the following:

1. Your business structure

 

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A partnership is one of the business structures you can opt for.

Government needs to know the form your new small business will take as this will inform its legal accountability and type of taxation. Some of the different business structures you may wish to consider include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

2. Your business name

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Display it loud and bold if it is legal

A registered business name implies that your startup is legally operational, in addition to being a prerequisite for receiving financial assistance from the government.

3. Is your business activity federally regulated?

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To run this sort of business you’ll need a permit from the FDA.

If your new small business intends to deal with product/s or activity that is under the supervision of a federal agency you will need to obtain the required federal license or permit. This will be the case if you aspire to deal in the following and more:

4. Is the new small business tax compliant?

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Tax compliance is vigorously pursued by government…

It’s certainly prudent to be fully aware of your new startup’s federal tax obligations. Lots of information is available to this effect; this checklist and these guidelines should be a nice place to start.

Note that there are two types of federal tax registrations.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – This is a requirement for corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships that intend to hire employees. Get the requisite Form SS-4 from the IRS.

S Corporation Tax Form – This is applicable for corporations that wish to attain S corporation status for special tax treatment purposes. Form 2553 is required and is also obtained from the IRS website.

5. How well does the new small business handle employee affairs?

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How the boss and the team relate is of concern to government.

Hiring and dealing with employee affairs can be quite tricky; you basically need a good grasp of federal labor and employment laws. The SBA provides a wealth of hiring and employee information.

Also, registering with E-Verify will allow you to establish your employees’ employment eligibility.

6. Does the business have proper insurance coverage?

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Government needs to know that businesses are adequately insured seeing as workplaces can be quite hazardous…

One of the preconditions for starting a new small business is obtaining adequate insurance coverage .

Not just any cover will do though; your type of business determines what form this insurance coverage will take.

Additionally, the business ought to have health insurance coverage in place, including the Small Business Health Options Program.

7. Is the new startup compliant with location and equipment regulations?

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How many different regulations had to be complied with before this operation got going?

An assortment of regulations determines how small businesses should go about matters to do with location, zoning, leasing business equipment, and leasing commercial space, etc.

These resources from the SBA will shed more light on these issues.

8. Is your new startup conversant with business laws?

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Advertising, like other facets of business, is governed by laws and regulations…

There are roughly a dozen business laws and regulations that you need to be aware of as a new small business owner; with some basic knowledge you’ll at least be able to handle various business obligations from an informed point of view.

These laws cover aspects of advertising and marketing, employment and labor, finance, intellectual property, online business, privacy, financial contracts, and so on.

The SBA offers more information about these laws.

9. How environmentally-conscious is your business?

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The EPA is most likely going to be pleased with this setup…

Depending on the nature of your new small business you may need to secure some form of licensing from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Find out more about what is required at http://www.epa.gov/smallbusiness.

10. In case it’s home-based…

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Government also has rules for work-at-home guys.

This SBA guide offers information about what is required of home-based new small business owners.

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Eye-tracking research done with regard to consumers shopping behaviors indicates that most purchasing decisions are unthinking and instinctive; color, shape, and location familiarity are the main motivations behind most people’s decisions to buy. With the average supermarket in the U.S. carrying approximately 42,000 different items, the need to make your product stand out cannot be overstated. Accordingly, your choice of packaging design must be able to market your product effectively and thereby guarantee healthy sales volumes…(Read the entire post here)

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It’s just not worth calling yourself an entrepreneur if you can’t think through the relationship between revenues and profits. Willful ignorance on the part of lots of small business owners might just be the reason why they are caught up in this quandary. Entrepreneurs should ideally be concerned about how healthy their profit margins are because this will…(Read the entire post here)