Episode 5: Art Needs Practice... So Does Your Business

In Episode 5 of Your Handmade Business, Isaac talks about the value of building your business skills just like they were your craft, and how that can help you build confidence as a business owner. Then he recaps his recent experience The Makers Summit.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make you better.

Just like honing your creative skills and refining your craft technique, working *in* your business will improve those quintessential business skills. As a small business owner, you’re the go-to person for marketing, finances, strategic planning, product development, production, and fulfillment. These are skills, not just responsibilities, and while you aren’t expected to be awesome and amazing at everything out of the gate, you can develop these skills over time in the same way that you can improve your metal-hammering or pottery-glazing the more you work at it.

Practicing also helps you uncover hidden business talents. You may not know it yet, but you might actually be gifted at building a budget, mapping out your brand strategy, or increasing your production efficiency. Personally, I discovered a few years ago that I actually can assemble a mean spreadsheet, and it turns out that massaging the cells and formulas to auto-calculate and cross-reference is something I really enjoy doing—that it’s kind of a creative act. I know, I’m such a nerd. But I would have never guess that until I started trying, and now it’s become a regular part of the work I do. You might find that you really take to CSS and styling your website, or writing killer marketing copy, or digging into your supply chain and shortening your lead times.

These might all sound like scary business terms that you need a degree to do, but the truth is just about anyone can dive in and learn and develop these skills. And as you do, you’ll find that there are things you’re good at, things you aren’t, and things you can improve over time. And that will help you identify where you would do well to find help from others, and what you can be confident in doing yourself (so long as doing it yourself doesn’t take you away from doing your best work).

Another important thing to remember is that self-teaching is totally okay! So is learning from others, either by directly taking a class or workshop, or by doing a skill-swap with another maker who has something you can teach them about as well. Start with what you know you don’t know, and you’ll quickly uncover what you don’t know you don’t know.

As you spend time sharpening your business skills, you’ll find that your confidence as a business owner will strengthen, and you’ll feel more in control of your goals, plans, and dreams. You’ll also develop a better understanding of each aspect of running a business so that you can work with other professionals effectively and efficiently. And, in the end, your business will improve.