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supplies in bulk without damning your cash flow. If you know there are certain materials you will need anyway,


it's smart to time your


purchases for when prices are at their lowest. Similarly, online shopping deals and even group- buying schemes might keep your costs low once you've worked out what you need over the year.


Advertising is expensive, but there are scores of cheap or free marketing channels, including social media to promote your work. Consider running specials or competitions for your old stock, thereby clearing merchandise and generating interest. If you need capital investment, what are low- risk ways of getting this? There may be government or private sector grants which, though small, might just be enough to make a difference without a crippling bank loan.


Charting the Uncharted Launching a new product can be a real business boost, but it also carries risks. Because you'll be doing


73 | ukhandmade | Winter 2011


When big companies devise a new product, they develop a timeline leading from inception through to launch and beyond. The same principles apply to a small business, so work out:


• What your target market is; • How you will reach them; • When you need supplies; and • How long it will take to get the product ready and allow a bit of extra time before the official launch!


Unscheduled Diversions Sometimes our planned route throws up obstacles and we need to look to Plan B. Rather than finding yourself in a dead-end halfway through the year, spend a bit of time considering possible setbacks and what strategies can be used to address them. Chatting with other small business owners in the craft community might help you learn


something you haven't done before, you can't necessarily rely on your standard business practice.


from other people's experiences and what they did to mitigate problems. Sometimes, though, the only option is to go in a different direction, so you need to consider:


• That things might go wrong; • How they might go wrong; and • What you can do to insulate yourself.


Have contingency plans, maintain a financial buffer and consider other ways to keep a healthy money-in, money-out ratio. Tweeting a flash sale might be all you need to drum up interest on some stock that wasn't shifting. Perhaps look into the possibility of teaching your skills at workshops should your product sales slowdown.


Tracking Your Success To keep organised, use a chart or spreadsheet to list areas you want to focus on, along with each step that is required for that area and a strict deadline for when you should have completed each step.


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