thoughts on scaling a business from Day 1.

2013-01-04_1615 What you’re looking at isn’t a delicious treat. It’s actually an image I found in my Flickr stream of “Strawberry Shortcake” soaps I was making in 2007. I completely forgot about them until I saw this picture. But I use this image to prove a point…even back in 2007, I never made astoundingly gorgeous soaps. Sure, many of my soaps are prettier than a plain white bar and the swirl is kinda interesting, but I’ve purposefully stayed away from doing really aesthetically-amazing, labor-intensive products.

Why? Because I knew I wanted a big business. I knew I wanted to hire people to do production for me, and I knew that I wanted to be able to fill large wholesale orders quickly.

While there are some AMAZINGLY gorgeous soaps out there, I cannot imagine that it must be easy to fill an order for 1,000 bars of the same scent when they’ve got herbs/colors/layers/swirls and look seriously labor intensive.

I know there are some soapers that read this blog so let me put the caveat in of: I know some of you are doing it and really rocking that. It really amazes me and I’m totally blown away by it.

But for the rest of us who aren’t the exception to the rule, I think you need to remember to go into business with an exit plan in mind. Well, not even an exit plan, but a plan on which direction you want to go:

Are you interested in getting extra cash once in awhile for bills or are you interested in having a warehouse, with employees, and large and stressful orders?

If it’s the first one, I can 100% understand having an artisan approach to a craft business, and you should rock that to keep your niche.

If it’s the second one: You need to take a steady look on your production methods and figure out ways to be economical with your time AND your money. How much time do you spend burning screens? Is there a faster way to print if you reduce colors?¬† If you hired someone to knit for you, would they be able to work less hours on one project if it wasn’t as aesthetically astounding as it is now?

I’m not saying to make ugly things (please don’t!). I’m saying to take a look at your production¬† approach and, if you start your business with the dream of scaling up, think about if reducing the labor involved in it will help you in the long run.

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