I know you get a lot of questions about individual businesses, so I thought I would add one of my own. I have a jewelry business. I sell out of booths at fairs. It used to do really well, but now there is a ton of competition. I keep having to lower my prices to keep up. I believe in all that you say in Better, Smarter, Richer, but I don’t see how to make my business sell more when I have this much competition. I really can’t do more of a niche! Any advice? When do I know it’s time to get out and do something new?
I have thought a lot about your question.
When competition begins, we have three choices, lower our prices, get better or stop. If you lower your prices, the competition often backs you into a corner (a race to the bottom) and soon you are no longer able to make the money you need to stay in business, pay for the training/classes that will increase your skill, put yourself in a better selling position (say a store front instead of a booth), or to market.
Are you sure you cannot create a niche as I talk about in Chapter one of the book? Is there something that you produce that no-one else does? I am thinking of a kind of material, a particular style, a unique melding of old and new? Is there any thing you do that is particularly popular, that clients rave about and as far as you know, no one else is doing it? Usually the answer to this is yes because your own creativity and imagination are unique to you; that means that your interpretation of materials and designs is probably also unique to you. If you can find that unique “sweet spot” can you build on it? Can you begin to offer some item of jewelry that no one else offers in the same way, the same colors, the same materials, the same styles etc?
Then, other than just selling in booths, do you sell on the web? Can you be part of a “pop up” store and sell inside another store that is complementary to you work? Do you have a data base of your clients with whom you have a good relationship? Will some of them follow you or maybe even commission special pieces if you offer them customized design and high customer service?
Owning a solopreneur business is like working for a highly competitive national firm- the only career path is up or out. The competition for small artisan businesses is fierce and is only going to become greater as more and more people start solo businesses because they cannot find other work in our new economy. It is always up to you to not only be better but also to let your customers know how you are better and to charge a good price for your work.
Amanda, I am sure there is a path to financial success for you but it is not the one you are on. Your future success depends on how much you want to stay in your jewelry business and how willing you are to find the way to make yourself more valuable to your customers.
I am glad you’re enjoying Better, Smarter, Richer. You are the exact type of reader I envisioned for the book. Good luck! Jackie