You’re nailing your price, selling steadily and if you were to close up shop tomorrow a substantial amount of income would disappear. Your sights are turning away from Etsy and craft shows to gaining more wholesale accounts, and your product line is growing and hitting multiple price points. Many decisions in your business are calculated and you have a good grasp of most of the nitty gritty business details. You’re probably working full time (or close to it), and you’re profiting at least enough to keep things going. You know how to keep your customers happy and coming back for more, to boot!
You may or may not want to make this full-time. That’s cool, too! In this business type, you’re making money, but it’s probably not enough to fully sustain the lifestyle that you enjoy, so you supplement it with other income (from teaching your craft or doing something else totally different) or might rely on a spouse/partner.
This tends to be a level that many who have kids or are dealing with chronic illness find is most suitable for their business needs. Or often makers who tend toward the artist side that find having a “non-making” job helps keep income regular. This does NOT mean that your business isn’t part of a career of making. For our labels here, we are simply using it to distinguish between an all-consuming product-making business and one that is one slice of the maker’s career pie.
A word of caution: a sustainable business can quickly become the opposite if you let scaling surpass your capacity to make what you love. Be aware of your limits and keep an eye on your finances to make sure what you’re building affords you the income you need to continue to feed your creativity and keep your cup full, instead of letting the demand for more wear at your joy of making.
- Consistent and significant business revenue
- You’re still doing most if not all of the making
- Flexibility with your business based on other life/work needs
- Income is a contributing factor, not a make-or-break pursuit
- It’s easy to surpass your capacity to make by trying to scale up to bring in enough revenue
- The DIY and “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality runs high risk of business burnout.
- Making the transition to majority wholesale is usually desirable but harder to achieve because making up for sales in volume may be constrained by your capacity to make product.
- Learning bigger business principles and strategy can be challenging to do when you’re used to doing things all by yourself or making things up along the way.
Sample Sustainable Businesses
Carrie’s jewelry is basically art. It’s incredibly unique and there are not a lot of ways to mass produce it. But there are production pieces that are a lower price point that are a mainstay of her jewelry collection. Her business brings her income that’s steady, but she still works a part-time job she loves and that’s fulfilling in other ways (plus it gives her health insurance and that’s a relief). If her jewelry business takes off, that’s great but she is interested in not putting too much pressure on her creativity.
Trevor makes leather wallets and a few leather accessories. He’s amassed a consistent stable of shops he wholesales to, with a manageable amount of orders that gives him a nice and reliable extra income. The money he makes helps his growing family, but he still maintains a freelance graphic design business that is his main income. He likes having his leather business as a different creative outlet, but the business skills aren’t exactly the same as his freelance business and that can be kind of annoying. He’s doing the occasional craft show—mostly just the ones he likes and when he wants to travel.
READY FOR THE NEXT STEP?
If you're looking to figure out where to go next in your business AND also get tools to keep you on track, our Jumpstart Your Handmade Business program is for you. Jumpstart is a combination of curriculum, videos and some pretty handy spreadsheets. Join us to jumpstart your business!