Archive for the ‘small business ideas’ Category

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.

 

 

 

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The United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy asserts that small businesses make up 99.7% of all U.S. firms. It’s therefore safe to say that small businesses are the economy’s driving force.

Starting a small business is basically about setting up shop, finding clients and earning money. This is true for whatever form of business you plan to start.

Several more traits are also used to define small businesses as follows:

The costs of setting up a small business vary but are on average quite low

1. Low startup costs

Depending on the specific type of small business, startup costs are typically quite low.

A retailing business doesn’t have to start big; simply buying the initial inventory and renting a suitable space will do. A consultancy service doesn’t have to start in a plush office with a flashy address; starting out in your home office where the overhead costs are minimal is certainly prudent.

This article will give you a glimpse of the cost required for startups in different industries.

Majority of small businesses have 10 or less employees

2. Just a few employees

It’s typical of a small business to have a single worker – the owner. For this reason these businesses are commonly referred to as “one-man-shows”.

In fact, according to this 2004 SBA survey, 59% of startups had zero employees. 91% of all employer firms were startups with 10 or fewer employees and these were responsible for 61% of employment.

Nevertheless, as operations grow you may need to hire a number of employees. To keep your operating costs low you may, like many other small business owners, find it feasible to hire independent contractors or freelancers.

Small businesses find and serve target markets

3. Small market share and intense competition

A small business serves just a small portion of the market; what really matters is its target market. This is as compared to the significantly larger shares of the same market that corporations and larger businesses can control thanks to their bigger capacities.

Also, since there are a huge number of small businesses that need to compete for business opportunities in the same market, competition is rife. This typically results in product/service innovation and differentiation.

4. Limited budgets and funding

As compared to larger firms, small businesses typically operate with limited budgets. With their limited finances these enterprises have little or no choice but to keep their costs of doing business low. Cost-efficiency is the name of the game for small business owners.

Thanks to the internet small businesses now have a global reach

5. A single location

Most small businesses operate from a single location; not many of these businesses have branches or outlets in multiple cities or states.

Also, the rising prominence of home-based businesses means that a significant number of enterprises are now operating without formal business facilities. In the above survey 50% of small businesses were home-based.

To their credit, many small businesses now have a global reach thanks to running internet-based operations.

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During an economic downturn or recession like the one we experienced a few years ago our survival instincts urge us to cut down on spending. This in turn impacts negatively on business owners, some to a greater extent than others.

Those businesses that somehow keep thriving during such times can be described as being recession-proof.

While there are some obvious examples, looking at the situation from another perspective can help you to identify even more ideas for your startup.

Think about the new lifestyle changes that people adopt in order to cope with salary cuts, loss of employment, change of work status from full-time employee to independent contractor, and so on.

Generally, there are four traits that can help you to identify a recession-proof job or business idea.

  • A business that provides essential/critical products and services – Here you can think about healthcare provision, pharmaceuticals, education and tuition, plumbing services, etc.
  • A business that is clearly positioned – Here the focus is on businesses that have a strong competitive edge over others in their industry niche. Such competitive edges may be based on effective pricing, excellent customer service, superior expertise, etc.
  • A business that keeps abreast with technological and social trends – The most obvious of such businesses are the ones that provide IT solutions, communications and access services, etc.
  • Businesses that will always sell despite the economySuch businesses don’t really feel the pinch because what they offer is essential. Restaurants, liquor stores, debt collectors, and the like, fall into this category.

Now therefore, what are some of the recession-proof business ideas you can start making money with?

NB: For some of these business ideas selling online is now the way to go; here are some handy tips about how to go about doing this.

1. Internet marketing

Thanks to the internet, virtually every product and service you require is just several clicks away.

Thanks to the internet, virtually every product and service you require is just several clicks away.

Thanks to widespread and ever-increasing internet accessibility, more and more business opportunities suited for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs aka webpreneurs are being created.

Reading the profiles of some of the blogging industry’s most iconic names you might be surprised to know what these guys were doing before they became big.

Before getting started you’ll want to get acquainted with web traffic optimization. You can then proceed to earn money by doing what you love, say running a fashion advice blog or offering content writing services.

There are indeed a slew of jobs available online for freelance specialists and you can make good money offering some of these in-demand services.

2. Food and beverages

People will always appreciate the taste of a fine meal regardless of the times.

People will always appreciate the taste of a fine meal regardless of the times.

Not surprisingly, people kept eating and drink during the recession years…hey, was there an option?

Nevertheless, your decision to start an eatery must be carefully conceived and implemented. After all, just like in any other business, there are plenty of risks to consider.

Making your restaurant’s theme a fit for today’s healthy lifestyles may be a good place to start. A restaurant that promotes healthy eating can do well in recession times because people will identify with the need to reduce consumption, stay healthy, and cut down on unimportant purchases. The “stay healthy” theme will also work well for a restaurant that serves organic food products or another that targets vegetarians.

If you don’t fancy running a restaurant then you might as well consider starting a food catering business.

3. Selling cosmetics

Ladies have and will always want to look beautiful.

Ladies will always want to look amazing.

Regardless of the poor state of the economy you can bet that every lady will always try her best to look gorgeous. A man will grumble and mumble about how unnecessary spending on beauty products is but the mere memory of how beautiful the woman he loves looked during an unforgettable date will be enough reason to make his thin wallet a tad poorer.

The impressive sales volumes of nail polish and mascara in recession-hit 2009 is an apt example of a cosmetic business’ viability.

4. Providing laundry services

Our need for clean clothes is really second nature.

Our need for clean clothes is really second nature.

To avoid looking shabby and unkempt people will always want to wear clean clothes. This is why starting a laundry business is an idea that makes so much sense and cents.

It’s hardly complicated.

You just need washing machines, dryers, pressing irons, detergent, a good team and effective word-of-mouth advertising.

5. Candy store business

M&Ms were first sold in 1941...

M&Ms were first sold in 1941…

Thanks to the Great Depression of the 1930s we now enjoy tasty treats like Snickers and Three Musketeers.

Somehow, our liking for candy surges during economic recessions. Not surprisingly, Nestle and Cadbury reported 11% and 30% profit rises respectively in 2008.

6. Alternative healthcare services

There are plenty of business opportunities in the health sector - even for entrepreneurs who don't have a medical background.

There are plenty of business opportunities in the health sector – even for entrepreneurs who don’t have a medical background.

People interested in the healthcare business but lacking the requisite credentials to offer primary healthcare services, say opening a general medicine practice, can still make good money in alternative healthcare.

There are plenty of other options too. How about designing healthcare software, supplying medical equipment to practices, repairing and maintaining medical equipment, etc?

7. Provision of wedding services

A catalog of different wedding services jointly help to make such a day brilliant and memorable.

A catalog of different wedding services jointly help to make such a day brilliant and memorable.

However gloomy the times are, a nicely organized wedding will always help to ease people’s worries, albeit for several days.

The scope of business ideas in this niche is quite varied. You can think about becoming a wedding and honeymoon planner, offering wedding photography and video recording services, designing customized wedding invitation materials, designing bride and bridal party gowns, offering wedding catering services, etc.

8. Selling baby products

Perhaps it needs a fresh diaper or medical attention...new babies bring new business.

Perhaps it needs a fresh diaper or medical attention…new babies bring new business.

Babies will always be born; baby products will therefore always be in demand.

Whether you decide to sell baby wear, toys and gear, baby products like oils and powders, etc, the potential for profitability will always exist.

You can also opt to offer allied services like babysitting (and daycare services later on).

9. Running a funeral parlor or offering funeral-related services

The entire process of laying the dead to rest ensures that several entrepreneurs will get paid.

The entire process of laying the dead to rest ensures that several entrepreneurs will get paid.

Successful undertakers are a unique breed. For them special days like holidays and anniversaries don’t really exist.

Why, you ask.

It’s quite simple.

Everyday people are always dealing with the demise of family members and friends.

As the proprietor of a funeral parlor you will need to respond to the requirements of bereaved people day and night and get the job done; all this while maintaining the desired quality of service and empathy.

Providing this service definitely makes for a viable idea – the industry was worth $15.9 billion in 2013.

Apart from being an undertaker, there’s also money to be made in funeral-associated jobs including providing cremation services, making caskets and coffins, designing epitaphic tombstones, etc.

10. Selling beer, wine and liquor

During happy or depressing times you can always expect bars and pubs to enjoy good business.

During happy or depressing times you can always expect bars and pubs to enjoy good business.

Don’t expect people to stop drinking when times get tough. They’ll simply ignore the pricier options and guzzle down the affordable stuff.

During the recession some interesting observations were made in support of this stance. In 2009 bar revenues and restaurant sales of wine by the bottle dipped drastically. Nevertheless, wholesalers of beer, wine and liquor enjoyed good business. Restaurants also saw a rise in sales of wine by the glass.

11. Property staging

Can you make a house look worth its price tag? Real estate agents and house sellers will readily pay for your expertise.

Can you make a house look worth its price tag? Real estate agents and house sellers will readily pay for your expertise.

The work of a property stager is to ensure that a house which is to be sold off looks the part. Basically, you, as a property stager, need to advice the seller on how best the things in the property must be arranged and presented in order to maximize the likelihood of making a good sale.

For starters, you need to have a keen sense for style, décor and detail. Next, you need to make a name for yourself. Making acquaintances with real estate agents and independent sellers is a good place to start.

This business can really thrive in recession times. We can all recall the many property sales that characterized the aftermath of the property market’s fluctuation.

12. Virtual assistance

Reputable virtual assistants are almost always in demand all year round.

Reputable virtual assistants are almost always in demand all year round.

Becoming a virtual assistant is yet another viable business idea that has resulted from increased internet access. This will be a worthwhile option for you if competent administration and organizational acumen are your forte.

Opportunities abound for such persons considering that many companies, in a bid to cut down on operational costs, are retrenching conventional assistants and instead outsourcing the position to qualified persons around the world.

If you are one of those who have been retrenched then making the switch shouldn’t be too hard. After working with several clients you may even think of training and then hiring others with the aim of expanding your business.

13. Tutoring and coaching

Skills are passed down successive generations hence the need for tutors and coaches services.

Skills are passed down successive generations hence the need for tutors and coaches services.

This is especially applicable for people who excel at teaching or instructing others, be it in academia or other skills e.g. playing the piano. If you also can coach/train players in soccer, tennis, baseball, or indeed any other sport, there is money to be made by turning your skills into a business.

Despite poor economic times learning, music, acting and sports always thrive.

14. Pet care services

Pet lovers don't hesitate to spend good money on excellent pet care service providers.

Pet lovers don’t hesitate to spend good money on excellent pet care service providers.

The love that people have for their pets doesn’t wane even when the times get tough. The reason is simple – for some people, having a pet helps to soothe them through hard times.

Accordingly, pet care service providers enjoyed soaring business during the recession years. Additionally, the low cost of business setup was a boon for service providers, as was the large target market – estimated at at 65% of Americans.

Veterinary service providers also enjoy good business from pet owners. Industry estimates for 2014 put the figures at $15.3 billion.

15. Tax accounting

Expert accounting services are especially sought after during lean times because business owners are keener to save more money.

Expert accounting services are especially sought after during lean times because business owners are keener to save more money.

You’d be wrong to assume that during recession business owners’ start doing their own bookkeeping in an attempt to lower operational costs.

It was business as usual for tax accountants during the recent economic slump. The reason is quite interesting – business owners were keen to get maximum refunds while avoiding any errors that would prove costly.

16. Thrift stores

Flea markets and thrift stores will always exist because we all love a good bargain.

Flea markets and thrift stores will always exist because we all love a good bargain.

People will carry on shopping during an economic recession but instead of doing it at elite shops like Nordstrom they will opt for thrift stores.

The numbers tell the story. In 2008 just 14% of Americans shopped at thrift stores on a regular basis; this rose to 20% in 2012. The country’s premier thrift store company, Goodwill, reported a 10% rise in sales volumes annually between 2007 and 2011.

So, do you have a passion for selling secondhand goods at affordable prices? Why not set up now? You may be just in time for the next recession – they do say we expect one roughly every six years or ten years, right?

17. Security services

The need to feel safe and secure always necessitates the hiring of security personnel.

The need to feel safe and secure always necessitates the hiring of security personnel.

When times get tough many people become desperate and frustrated. Eager to make quick bucks, many people resort to various forms of crime. Burglary is especially prevalent in these circumstances; with the exception of unexpected benefits.

In response to the threats posed by perpetrators of the vice, homeowners and proprietors of valuable establishments, commercial or otherwise, hire the services of security firms. Of course, these services are always in demand even when the economy is thriving.

18. Garbage and/or waste collection

Without garbage collection services our homes, offices and streets would be a mess.

Without garbage collection services our homes, offices and streets would be a mess.

Keeping your house free of garbage and waste remains a priority every day of the year.

This is therefore a business idea you can implement – if you don’t mind the dirt, variety of unpleasant aromas, and the typical low regard many people have for this job. No worry, no one will look down on a garbage collection firm successful CEO.

19. The sale of contraceptives

To enjoy safe sex people will always need pills and condoms...

To enjoy safe sex people will always need pills and condoms…

Having sex is a natural urge that must be fulfilled.

Procreation is not always the agenda though. For this reason people will always purchase contraceptives, be they couples, young adults or teenagers.

As the owner of such a business an economic recession will be the least of your worries.

20. Repair services provision

The constant need for repair services at home, in the office, etc, means that handymen will always be in demand.

The constant need for repair services at home, in the office, etc, means that handymen will always be in demand.

Whatever the economy looks like there will always be business opportunities for repair experts.

However much you hold off on having your broken window panes replaced, your leaking roof re-tiled, your car’s gearbox replaced, or your blocked pipes and/or sinks unclogged, you’ll eventually have to pay someone to make things right.

If you have the training, skills and equipment required for offering repair services in or more niches you might as well set up shop now. Using word-of-mouth you should soon get a few clients; make a good reputation by offering top-notch services and then keep growing.

In conclusion:

There are lots of other recession-proof ideas. How about some suggestions from you?

Every role that an entrepreneur needs to play requires proactive thinking. Do you have what it takes?

Every role that an entrepreneur needs to play requires proactive thinking. Do you have what it takes?

You’ve now launched your own business.

A long-cherished dream has finally seen the light of day.

Deep within you truly desire to succeed.

You’ve read about what legendary entrepreneurs have and are doing to ensure that they are always at the top.

You know that being an entrepreneur means you are responsible for making your vision of success a reality.

You also understand that this responsibility will require you to play a number of roles. Well, here are some of the different hats you’ll have to wear.

You certainly don’t need to be good at all these roles to be a successful entrepreneur. What you aren’t good at – at the onset – can always be improved upon with time.

 

1. Head of new customer acquisition

You’ll need clients for your products/services.

Unfortunately, they won’t start coming to your premises automatically; you’ll need to attract and then convince them to start spending their money on what you have to offer.

At this point in time you already know who your ideal target customers are. You just need to find the best message that will strike a chord with them.

Reaching out to your target customers appropriately will bring them in droves...

Reaching out to your target customers appropriately will bring them in droves…

Marketing your business will be a continuous effort moving forward.

You’ll always need to create relevance for your business in order to keep drawing in new clients.

2. Customer experience and service architect

Once customers have started trickling in, it’s upon you to ensure that all their interactions with your business are top-notch.

Customers should be assured of satisfaction whatever their engagement with your business involves.

This is what superb customer experience is all about – and it starts right from your mission statement which you always have to live up to.

Top entrepreneurs understand that keeping their customers satisfied is absolutely vital.

Top entrepreneurs understand that keeping their customers satisfied is absolutely vital.

Your customer experience strategy will need to be complemented by exemplary customer service which involves all the things a business needs to do to make a customer feel valued and important.

3. Chief salesman

Making sales is the only way your business is going to earn revenue. Ideally, the healthier your sales volumes, the higher your revenues and profits will be.

Ensuring that your product/service gets out there and convincing people to spend money on it is an art that you must perfect. Even if you have a sales team it is clear that they will look up to you for inspiration and direction.

Simply put, if you lack passion for your product/service don’t expect the sales team to work miracles on the ground.

Self-explanatory.

Self-explanatory.

Selling is an aspect of business where your input on the front lines is really required Steve Jobs-style.

Interactions with your customers will reveal many pointers and ideas that you can take advantage of in order to make your sales effort more precise and focused.

4. Minding the business’ coffers

It’s quite ironic that for many entrepreneurs the sight of a healthy bottom line is what causes them to grin widest yet they are stubbornly hesitant to learn about how to prepare balance sheets, profit and loss statements and cash flow statements.

While finding and paying fine accountants and bookkeepers to handle these matters on your behalf is undeniably convenient, the truth of the matter is that entrepreneurs who are personally involved in their business’ financial matters are best placed to lead their ventures to long-term success.

Successful entrepreneurs are involved with the money right from the get go...

Successful entrepreneurs are involved with the money right from the get go…

Being in charge of the financials will enable you to among other things know your business’ health, be sure of its tax compliance, and be able to monitor trends such that you can plan ahead based on facts rather than assumptions.

5. Undisputed team leader

As the business owner you also have the distinction of being employee #1. This means that even if your business does not hire other people you’ll be responsible for leading yourself.

Being team leader means that you’ll have to espouse all the qualities of an efficient team and lead from the front.

There can be no other way for entrepreneurs to lead - it must be from the front

There can be no other way for entrepreneurs to lead – it must be from the front

Running a business successfully is no walk in the park – it requires dedication, commitment, zeal and focus from everyone involved. The team will eagerly play ball if they see you doing your part with vim and then some.

6. Head visionary and strategist

How big do you wish to grow your business?

Does your vision portend success?

To achieve mega growth you will need to have a solid strategy for the future.

Indeed the most successful entrepreneurs have all grown from the ground up because one eye is firmly fixed on the big picture.

Successful entrepreneurs look at the big picture and strategize on how to get there...

Successful entrepreneurs look at the big picture and strategize on how to get there…

As such, even as you are engaged in the day to day running of your nascent business’ operations, you should ensure that all the present effort is essentially about preparing the groundwork for future growth and success.

Long-term vision is imperative.

7. Head of creativity and innovation

Unless you are dealing with something quite unique that virtually nobody else can offer e.g. corks then constantly wearing your thinking cap is not an option.

Why?

You need to ensure that your business will always remain relevant and competitive.

New and relevant ideas will be key for your business'success...

New and relevant ideas will be key for your business’ success…

Businesses often reinvent themselves after their previous brilliant offerings become obsolete.

Reinvention is about progressively providing new offerings that can satisfy the needs of your customers.

Reinventing is actually an investment of time, money and brain cells. Done well, you’ll certainly reap handsomely moving forward.

8. Chief perceiver of opportunity

Your ability to utilize the entrepreneurial qualities of foresight, instinct and alertness will definitely contribute to your business success.

Given the dynamic nature of societal trends, new opportunities and possibilities are constantly being revealed. Only the entrepreneurial eye can identify these opportunities and only the entrepreneurial mind can come up with a blueprint of how to harness them profitably.

As an entrepreneur you need the ability to sense opportunity...

As an entrepreneur you need the ability to sense opportunity…

You therefore always need to keep an eye on trends. Specifically, you need to be aware of changing needs and requirements with the aim of providing innovative solutions.

9. Informed calculating risk-taker

This role is ideally connected to that on opportunity perception described in the previous point.

Entrepreneurial calculated risk-taking describes the willingness to perform the actions required to harness an identified business opportunity knowing full well that the actions could result in profit or loss.

...as well as the skill and capacity to make a profitable swoop

…as well as the skill and capacity to make a profitable swoop

As such, considering the unknowable nature of the result you expect, your actions in this regard will need to be based on informed assumptions.

It is for this reason that many successful entrepreneurs have on several occasions invested time and money in seemingly profitable opportunities only to have their fingers burnt. On most occasions though, these entrepreneurs’ achievements can justly be described as legendary.

10. Motivation guru

The rigors of running a business are such that you’ll always need steady hands to steer the vessel forward towards success. Even so, the exertion will regularly take a toll on you and the team hence the need for everyone to enjoy some down time for purposes of re-energizing.

Every team member needs to feel fully appreciated and involved in order to be optimally productive

Every team member needs to feel fully appreciated and involved in order to be optimally productive

Keeping the team well motivated is essential and there are many ways to do this besides paying competitive salaries. You can start by making the workplace atmosphere and culture truly conducive to productivity.

It is also vital to make the team part of your vision; you can really use some of the bright ideas and suggestions your team can offer. Rewarding effort and goal achievement is also imperative.

Your choice of product packaging tells customers a lot about what they should expect from you...

Your choice of product packaging tells customers a lot about what they should expect from your brand…

However superb your product may be, its success to a large extent depends on your choice of packaging.

There’s no doubt that a product’s performance is more important than its packaging.

Nevertheless, the fact that prospective customers can only make an assessment of a product via its packaging means that you have no choice but to get inspired about this aspect of your product.

Effective product packaging should play the following roles:

  • Function – The packaging should be able to protect your product during transit and as it is displayed on store shelves
  • Attraction – The packaging should be able to entice potential buyers to choose, pick and buy your product from amongst all the options available on the shelves
  • Promotion and facilitating the decision to purchase – The packaging should effectively provide relevant information about your product and which may include source, ingredients used, directions for use, etc. This information is vital in helping potential customers to decide whether or not to buy.
  • Differentiation – Your product’s packaging should be adequately unique to enable customers to identify it easily

Adhering to the pointers below will give you success with product packaging:

1. Keeping it simple

Effective product packaging is all about making a potential buyer’s decision-making process as simple as possible.

Immediately customers reach the section where your product is displayed they should be able to easily identify it from amongst the rest.

There is nothing excessive about effective packaging

There is nothing excessive about effective packaging…

Simplicity is also vital in case it is a new product or you are launching in a new market.

Your product’s name, brand name, package and description should be easy for the eyes thus facilitating and encouraging potential customers to pick and buy.

2. Describing the product for what it is

In an attempt to boost sales you may be tempted to exaggerate the abilities of your product.

Don’t.

Simply state the facts and promise potential users attainable expectations based on your product testing results. If you have a good product you can be sure that sales volumes will gradually increase thanks to the positive feedback and reviews that satisfied users will offer.

Confidently state what your product offers; the consumers verdict will soon be out...

Confidently state what your product offers; the consumers’ verdict will soon be out…

Exaggeration, on the other hand, will ultimately hurt your product’s sales potential as you’ll have to deal with disappointed, dissatisfied and skeptical customers.

3. Being audience-specific

If your product is designed for a specific market audience you must ensure that its packaging plays the part. Just like the product, packaging cannot be universal.

This also applies for products that target the same core audience.

For example, different men prefer different cologne fragrances. As such, the packaging for the different colognes cannot be the same.

Audience-specific packaging helps to facilitate easy decision-making.

4. Standing out from the competition

Prior to launching your product you should scour the market in a bid to, among other reasons, find out what the competition has to offer.

Based on what you see you should be able to come up with a packaging design that will enable your product to stand out.

The packaging immediately tells you that this is a brand of chocolate may be worth trying...

The packaging immediately tells you that this brand of chocolate may be worth trying…

Your aim should be to create product packaging that is unique, a huge improvement on the competition’s effort, and relevant.

5. Using high quality materials

Product packaging is indeed a substantial aspect of product development; it does require a considerable chunk of money.

This notwithstanding, the need to use high quality packaging cannot be overemphasized.

Your product's packaging design needs to match your core audience's expectations...

Your product’s packaging design needs to match your core audience’s expectations…

Your product’s packaging needs to be good enough to make a strong first impression in the mind of a prospective buyer.

As such, you cannot afford to compromise on quality.

Get the best of what is available as per your budget.

6. Enhancing user convenience

This particularly applies for products whose packaging affects the manner in which they are used.

In this case the packaging design needs to be handy.

Knowing the contents, this product's packaging design is definitely handy...

Knowing the contents, this product’s packaging design is definitely handy…

For example, Harpic’s toilet cleaner is packaged in a suitably designed squeezable plastic bottle with a bent neck and a nozzle, two features that help to get the cleaner under the toilet bowl’s rim.

7. Factoring in future product varieties

After successfully launching the flagship product for your brand you might think of following up on this success by introducing several other product varieties. In most cases your marketing task will be easier if the new varieties will be similarly packaged.

The original Harpic toilet cleaner bottle is black in color. Subsequent varieties are similarly packaged but the bottles colors are different.

8. Ensuring the text’s legibility

All the text on your product’s packaging should be clearly legible.

A prospective buyer should rapidly be able to scan through your product’s descriptions provided on its front and back. This is crucial for decision-making especially if the product is new or use-specific.

The text definitely needs to be legible in this case...

The text definitely needs to be legible in this case…

Proper text legibility is enhanced by several factors including font type, size and color, and overall packaging color scheme.

Additionally, only the most important information should be printed on the front. Reserve the back for ancillary information.

9. Vetting multiple packaging designs

Before you settle on a particular design it is advisable to seek other people’s opinions.

The idea is to present different packaging design options to several objective persons for evaluation and letting them pinpoint the design they think will be most appropriate for your product.

You, of course need to brief them about what need the product aims to address and the section of the market you are targeting.

Chances are that their feedback will provide you with some insights that you had overlooked; perhaps the design you had in mind may after all not be as suitable as you may have thought.

10. Keeping up with the times – packaging redesign

What makes for a great packaging design now may not work when the next generation of your target market emerges. For this reason you need to spruce up your product’s packaging every once in a while.

This is real; top brands do it all the time. Just think of how many times Coca-Cola has changed the shape of its bottles.

The trick is to retain your product’s original charm but to package it for the present.

Some products' classic packaging charm always remains fashionable though...

Some products’ classic packaging charm always remains fashionable though…

The don’ts…

11. Targeting everyone instead of the target market

Borrowing from the old adage “You can’t be all things to all people”, you should realize that your product just cannot work for every other consumer.

This is true, even for universal products like table salt and drinking water.

Although this product's use is well understood, the target audience is unspecified...

Although this product’s use is well understood, the target audience is unspecified…

So, forget about universal packaging; go for what will work for your core audience.

In the same way that you have developed a product for this target market, come up with a fitting packaging design.

12. Using hard-to-open-and-use sort of packaging

If customers find it difficult to open your product’s packaging and/or find that using the product is inconvenient, chances are that they will explore other options the next time round.

As such, don’t go for a packaging design that will require users to learn specialist skills in order to use the product.

Opening and using your product should be quite easy...

Opening and using your product should be quite easy…

There are plenty of design options that you can employ to enhance convenience and prevent wrap rage e.g. perforated openings, flip caps, shrink-wrapping, ribbed bottles, etc.

13. Failing to freshen up your packaging

Very few products can retain their original packaging designs for eons and still sell well e.g. nails, sewing needles, etc.

Even so, manufacturers may regularly have to renew their logos, and so on.

Generally, updating your product’s packaging regularly will contribute to its success moving forward. A snazzy look is a selling look.

14. Assuming that words and terms mean the same thing everywhere

While your product’s name may sound amazing where you come from, the word/s may have a totally different meaning elsewhere.

This is a crucial consideration if you intend to sell your product to a target market that is spread across different tribes, nationalities, cultures and/or religions.

It is for this reason that certain products are sold under different brand names in different markets.

15. Failing to communicate your product’s unique attributes

It is foolhardy to assume that your product will do well even though its packaging bears only a scanty description of the contents.

What information will prospective customers use to make a buying decision?

This is a no-brainer.

16. Failing to provide different package sizes

For some products you just have to provide different package sizes.

Even for regularly used products like cooking oil and detergents, selling a single package size won’t do.

The realization that different types of consumers love and use your product is vital for success.

The realization that different types of consumers love and use your product is vital for success.

Customers make their purchasing decisions based on various factors including price, use frequency, shelf life, sell by date, personal lifestyle, and so on.

Ignoring such concerns won’t augur well for your product’s commercial success.

17. Omitting crucial product label details

All consumers, you included, have a habit of trying to find out all about the various products that they use regularly.

This will naturally start with a scrutiny of these products labels. The scrutiny is typically more intense after a product has been bought, say after the customer is back home after shopping.

A label-less product is a suspicious product. Consumers need details.

A label-less product is a suspicious product. Consumers need details.

Consumers will be more reassured if your product bears all the typical label information they are used to e.g. environmental concerns, product security, sell-by dates, etc.

If your product lacks any of these details it is likely to be treated with suspicion.

Infographic:

The influence of product packaging on consumers’ buying decisions

The Influence of Product Packaging in ConsumerYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

With some inspiration you can come up with an amazing business idea

With some inspiration you can come up with an amazing business idea

In their quest to find out how organizations come up with new ideas and convert these ideas into successful new products, services, businesses and solutions, researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute arrived at an interesting conclusion. They discovered that most of the novel ideas behind successful projects were the result of “happy accidents” rather than formal idea-generation processes.

Looking at some of the most revolutionary, creative and enduringly successful business ideas there are around, you can’t help but concur that there is something fluky about them.

Perhaps this is why such ideas are not too common.

Nevertheless, because the entrepreneur in you is determined to succeed, nothing can or should stop you from creating your own luck.

Coming up with a winning concept is the first step.

To get there though, you need to start looking in the right places. Examples of these idea sources are discussed below:

1. Answering the question “What’s next?”

While thinking about current trends and technologies, and then employing entrepreneurial foresight, you can try to anticipate future needs and requirements.

Someday your idea can become reality...

Someday your idea can become reality…

In doing so you may come up with a concept(s) for products and/or services that will cater to these needs. There are indeed plenty of successful businesses that have flourished because the entrepreneurs concerned foresaw future opportunities.

2. Earning money from your hobby

Many people have found entrepreneurial success by transforming their hobbies into businesses.

For instance, many food catering businesses are owned by persons who decided to monetize their love for cooking. Similarly, many people have found success in photography, fashion design, jewelry making, etc.

Who knows? Your photos may soon start earning you good money...

Who knows? Your photos may soon start earning you good money…

This article suggests hobbies that can make you a better entrepreneur.

3. Getting rid of a particularly bothersome problem

All of us have to contend with various niggling bothers and pain points in our daily lives. Some problems can be ignored but some are clearly very difficult to overlook.

Business opportunity, anyone?

Business opportunity, anyone?

Think about one bother that makes you go bonkers. Most probably there are lots of other people in the same situation who are itching for a solution.

Marion Donovan, a Westport housewife, must have had enough of cloth diapers, enough to be inspired to design the first model of a disposable diaper.

Can you think of a solution that can double up as a business idea?

4. Identifying an untapped/new market niche

For a given industry, think about the various products and/or services that currently exist. What are the various requirements that are hitherto being catered to unsatisfactorily? Spotting and monetizing such opportunities typically requires some imagination.

Candles need not be plain - there's more money in decorative ones...

Candles need not be plain – there’s more money in decorative ones…

For example, many of us couldn’t think beyond bottled mineral water. Some imaginative entrepreneurs did. Now we have carbonated mineral water and flavored mineral water.

5. Visiting exhibitions

Attending trade fairs and exhibitions, at home and overseas, and especially those featuring participants from other countries, can really help to broaden your scope of thinking.

At these events you will be able to interact with foreign entrepreneurs from whom you might learn several ideas that are yet to be exploited as business opportunities in your country.

Trade fairs and exhibitions will expose you to new ideas and concepts

Trade fairs and exhibitions will expose you to new ideas and concepts

Apart from inventors and entrepreneurs you might also want to engage with product distributors, sales reps, franchisers and wholesalers.

They are obviously interested in expanding their business to your country – who knows, you may end up running the sole local dealership for one of these companies.

6. Transferring your skills to an entirely new area

Imagine using your skills to create a new product or service that is a marked departure from what you are used to doing. The result could be a business idea whose success may exceed your own expectations.

Apart from water tumblers a glass-worker can also make various attractive collectibles...

Apart from water tumblers a glass-worker can also make various attractive collectibles…

In the movie “The Illusionist” the lead actor, a carpenter’s apprentice, uses his woodworking skills to create a lovely imaginative locket for the girl he loved. Such custom-made keepsakes tend to sell well.

7. Exploiting a market niche where innovations are scarce

There are markets where successive innovations are far in between. A creative entrepreneur can make the most of the situation by providing a product that users are likely to hail as being revolutionary.

The chainsaw rendered handsaws and axes virtually obsolete...

The chainsaw rendered handsaws and axes virtually obsolete…

For instance, scissors and manual clippers were for a long time barbers’ instruments of choice. The introduction of the electric shaver by Jacob Schick changed all that and ideally helped to revolutionize the concept of male grooming.

8. Launching a cheaper version of an existing product/service

This approach is really effective for startups hoping to compete in industries dominated by big household-name players.

Provided that your proposed product/service has proven that it can deliver, customers will definitely want to give it a try. It is for this reason that many industries are characterized by product differentiation and price discrimination.

Is this the real thing?

Is this the real thing?

For example, a man who cannot afford to buy a diamond necklace for his lady can always purchase one made with cubic zirconia gems.

9. Engaging with a product or service’s users

As a matter of fact, it is the users of a product or service who can provide the best feedback about it and also suggest whatever improvements they would like to become available in the market.

Seek customers advice about how you can improve a product and then launch one that meets these requirements

Seek customers advice about how you can improve a product and then launch one that meets these requirements

You can therefore decide to interact with people who buy a certain product that you are capable of improving upon and from these discussions find out what your  new version of the product should feature and/or offer.

Sportswear giant Nike started out by making improvements to running shoes.

10. Scouring mass media for opportunities

The mass media is a treasure trove of information and ideas from which business opportunities can be created.

Wherever you look, be it on the Internet, television, newspapers, magazines, and so on, there is always information about the latest trends in this or that facet of our daily lives. Ads of virtually every description are always aplenty.

Mass media is a rich source of potential business ideas and opportunities

Mass media is a rich source of potential business ideas and opportunities

You can directly respond to potential business opportunities. You can also go a step further and visualize a new concept that you can package as a viable business solution.