If you're nifty with knitting needles and always garnering compliments on your handcrafted creations, the time may be right to launch a small business that lets you make extra money doing what you do best: knitting. The overhead for a knitting business is relatively low, and the satisfaction is priceless. Plus, if you live in a cold climate, there's going to be a steady demand for custom-made items that warm the heart and take off the chill.
Identify what type of business you want to have. One option would be to create one-of-a-kind knit items such as sweaters, scarves and mittens for men, women and children. Your designs can be sold online, or at local clothing or crafts stores. Another option would be to teach knitting workshops. You could open a retail store that carries a diverse inventory of yarns, needles, looms and pattern books, and caters to people who love to knit. Another possibility is a co-op venture in which you and your fellow knitters join forces under the auspices of a charitable organisation to craft knit clothing and accessories for low-income families, children, seniors and hospital patients. Your knit goods would be auctioned off at fund-raising events.
Decide whether your knitting venture will be in a home office, or will require an actual bricks-and-mortar facility. Unless you are going to be selling knitting-related merchandise, or teaching group sessions to more than three people, you may want to work from home. If you're interested in retail space, be prepared to deal with a variety of issues, including the construction, purchase,or lease of a shop, utilities, office equipment, shelving and display materials, insurance, and staffing expenses. In this article, we'll assume you have limited capital, and are initially launching your knitting services as a home-based business.
Check with city administrators to determine whether your home is zoned for commercial use. This is crucial if you are going to have a steady stream of clients or students coming into your home. If you will be hosting workshops or conducting fittings at home, make sure your homeowner's insurance policy has you covered in the event of an accident.
Get a business license. The website of the Small Business Administration can walk you through the steps of obtaining a license, acquiring a federal ID taxpayer number and registering the business' name. If you and your fellow knitters are establishing yourselves as a charitable organisation, see if you qualify for tax-exempt status. The Internal Revenue Service specifies who qualifies, and how to proceed with applications.
If you're going to sell online, design a website to introduce the business and showcases its products and services. If, for example, you're going to be crafting one-of-a-kind knits, take digital photographs of some of them to display on the site, and explain how prospective customers can get original items made in any colour, size, or type of yarn. Also include a biography with titbits about how and where you learnt to become an expert knitter, and the yarns you use. If you have a lot to say about knitting, weekly blogs are a good way to get your public interacting with you and posting questions.
Create marketing materials such as business cards, postcards and brochures. Online print shops like Vista Print make this process easy with ready-made templates and mailing services that target specific Postcodes. You also can upload your own designs. Drop off brochures at salons, spas, coffee shops, libraries, schools and day care centres. Let everyone know you're starting your own business. Visit local boutiques and inquire whether they'd be interested in carrying a few of your items in their shop. If there's a neighbourhood yarn store, volunteer to teach an introductory workshop.
Investigate marketing resources such as Google Ads (wwwadwords.google.com) and Professional Hits (profhits.com) to direct traffic to your website. Participate in chat rooms where you can mention your knitting expertise. While you can't directly hawk your business in these forums, there are still enough ways to work it into a conversation, and make people curious enough to look you up.
Stay abreast of new trends and materials by subscribing to knitting trade publications such as Creative Knitting Magazine, Vogue Knitting, Knitting Universe and Knitty. If possible, write freelance articles for these publications, which usually allow you to include a byline that cites your shop and knitting experience.
You are your own best salesperson. Wear those sweaters and scarves when you're out in public. When someone compliments you on the quality and design, don't be shy about pulling out a business card. Carry business cards everywhere you go. You never know when the chance will come up to talk about your business. Offer discount incentives to newcomers and to those who refer their friends and associates.
If you're working for yourself, don't bite off more than you can chew. If, for instance, one of your specialities is festive sweaters for the Christmas holidays, schedule enough time to get all orders finished before December. An "early-bird special" for orders placed by the first week of September would allow you to comfortably spread out the work.
Tips and warnings
- You are your own best salesperson. Wear those sweaters and scarves when you're out in public. When someone compliments you on the quality and design, don't be shy about pulling out a business card.
- Carry business cards everywhere you go. You never know when the chance will come up to talk about your business.
- Offer discount incentives to newcomers and to those who refer their friends and associates.
- If you're working for yourself, don't bite off more than you can chew. If, for instance, one of your specialities is festive sweaters for the Christmas holidays, schedule enough time to get all orders finished before December. An "early-bird special" for orders placed by the first week of September would allow you to comfortably spread out the work.