If you are a creative person and you dream of using your craft skills to create a business then Fiona Pullen has written the ideal book for you. Craft a Creative Business is a complete business guide which touches on the essential aspects of setting up a business, and Fiona writes from experience. Fiona is a qualified and experienced lawyer who decided to pursue a career in business to fit her life around her son. She set up The Sewing Directory (the sewing directory.co.uk), a popular site for finding local and online sewing suppliers, sewing courses, and sewing groups.
The book is divided into six sessions which are reviewed below. This is a high quality book which is very colourful and full of very useful information, not just for those who want to start a craft related business, but other types of businesses because it covers all the usual areas you will need to consider when starting up. Other great things about the book are:
- Short stories of business owners focused on specific areas of building a business
- Activities to get you working on your business
- Useful templates
- Sample goals illustrating the types of goals you should set when starting up your business
Also the book is written in a simple and friendly language making it easy to read. But be mindful that this is an action oriented book. To get the best out of it you will need to work on the activities presented through out the book.
Following is a quick review of each section of the book
Section one – Where do I start?
This section starts out preparing you for self- employment. It describes the advantages and disadvantages of self-employment and outlines eight character transits you will need if you want to be successful. Some of these traits are being self-motivated, organised, driven and passionate. After that the book delves into business basics such as:
- How to identify your target market
- How to create a business plan
Some of the activities you will complete as you go through this section are:
- Identifying the ideal customer
- Giving customers what they want
- Creating your company’s USP
- Reviewing the competition
- Defining your goals
Section two – Legal matters
This is session that most of us would love to skip, but don’t. It focuses on business and the law and I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that lots of small business owners have had their fingers burnt by not paying attention to their legal responsibilities. Fiona wants to help you get to grips with the legal stuff. Some of the things she touches on briefly are, deciding the form of your company, company names, trademarks and patents, working with children, taxes and accounts, copyright, licensing, and business insurance. She even includes a list of links to where you can get more information on business related legal areas.
Section three – Presentation
How will you present your business to the world? When people see your business what will they see and what will they think? No doubt Fiona is an entrepreneur who cares about how businesses are presented and the high quality of this book is a testimony to that. In her own words, the visual impact your business makes on your potential customers is incredibly important, and ensuring your brand and products are presented well can be a critical factor of success.
This is another area that can get overlooked by small business owners, but Fiona describes it an embracing way. The questions you will ask yourself in this section are:
- What message will your branding send to potential customers?
- What colours are good for your business?
- What font is right for written materials?
- How will I design my logo? What will it look like?
- How will I convey my message to people? Can I write a short strapline that summarises the essence of what my business stands for?
- What promotional materials will I use?
There is more, but the message in this session is to get your branding right. Links to resources you can use are given at the end of the section.
Section four – Social media
If you are like me then this will be a very useful section, because I do struggle with social media. Fiona discusses a lot of useful information here such as:
- How to use social media to promote your business
- What to include in your posts
- Which social media platform to use
- Dos and donts of social media
- Setting up your social media presence
She then goes on to discuss different social media platforms in more detail and that includes blogging. And she touches on online communities and content marketing. Again she closes the section with some very useful links related to the topic discussed.
Section five – Selling online
Just like the social media section this part of the book is large with over 50 pages, but it’s one part of the book you should definitely read. Online selling is a necessity for almost any kind of business nowadays and Fiona takes the time to give a good introduction of the subject. Reading this part of the book will give you a basic understanding of:
- Legal requirements for selling online
- Online marketplaces where you can sell your products
- How to set up a website
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Content and SEO strategy
- How to analyse your site
- Online advertising
As in previous sections she also provides some very useful links to learn more about the topics discussed. When I wrote earlier that this is not just a business start up book for starting a craft related business, I meant it. The information given in this section is useful for almost any sort of online business.
Section six – Selling offline
Just because you have an online shop does not mean you can’t sell offline, especially for craft related businesses. In this short section which is the last one, Fiona gives some advice on how to sell your products offline by selling at craft fairs, art galleries, and getting into stores. She also discusses issues around getting featured in press releases, radio and TV programmes and other forms of offline promotions. She concludes the section with a very important aspect of business promotion, networking and off course provides us with those useful links to learn more.
Overall this is a very good book which covers all the necessary bases about starting a craft related business. Fiona writes like a person who knows her stuff and has also taken the time to do a lot of research. If you are thinking of starting a small business this is a book you should definitely read.
My start something small idea
My one idea for starting something small is taken from the social media section. Many of us starting small things will not have a budget for advertising, but by using social media we can show people our products and services. Here is the lesson:
- Use your social media posts to provide value to people and keep them engaged by showing people how to use your products, teaching them how to do new things and also promoting other people’s products which are related to yours. Provide people continuously with inspiration and ideas and don’t over promote your product’s. Here are things to include in your posts:
- Related products and services
- Tips and ‘how to’ guides
- Show who is behind the business
- Industry news and events
- Your products and offers
- Promote others
- General chats
- A good question around social media is, which platform should I use? The answer is the platform that is more likely to connect you to potential customers. Here are some ideas:
- Start a blog. A blog is an online diary which you can use to write about your opinions, ideas and products. It allows you to write as much as you want and you can share your posts with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Facebook is a very popular social media platform used by over a billion people. You will likely be able to connect with people on Facebook because of its large reach.
- Twitter does not have as much people as Facebook, but it is still one of the most popular social networks. Though Twitter limits you to 140 characters, it is a very good site for connecting to people.
- Pinterest is a visual based social network, so it is great for creative work.
- YouTube is the largest video sharing network and it is highly popular. using video can get you a lot of traction.
- Here are some dos and don’ts of social media
- Reply to comments
- Post links to articles, projects, stories and events
- Tell people about your offers
- Ask questions to promote interesting debates
- Don’t engage in arguments
- Don’t post too much updates in a row because you have not been active for a while
- Don’t use swear words
- Don’t ignore or delete complaints