Making a Living Making Soap-Questions to Ask Before You Begin
Soap making can be a wonderful hobby but if you've ever thought of turning your hobby into a business you know how overwhelming the idea can be. Here are some questions to help you think through your decision:
*How much of a business do you want to be? Do you really want to this to be a full-time job? Or would you rather just make a couple hundred bars a year for your church fundraiser? Your answer to this question will determine your next steps.
*Do you really want to be in business? Every day? Seven days a week? Any entrepreneur will tell you that when you own a business it's on your mind every single day.
*Are your sales expectations realistic? As with any other small business, it's going to take 3-5 years for you to start seeing a profit. How will you live in the mean time? Do you have another source of income?
*Do you fully understand the chemistry of soap making? Too many new soap makers focus on the creative aspect of the craft and never really learn the chemistry behind it. Getting a good handle on the basic chemistry frees you to experiment without fear of wasting huge amounts of raw materials. I suggest Dr. Robert McDaniel's book "Essentially Soap".
*What's your niche? It's important you distinguish yourself from the hundreds of other soap makers and avoid falling into the trap of trying to please everyone. Find a niche and work on becoming an expert in it. Are your soaps particularly artistic? Are they especially "natural"?
*Do you really believe that successful soap makers hang out in online chat rooms and message boards? Don't fool yourself into thinking that you're going to learn from the "experts". The people who are really making a living making soap don't have time to post 20 messages a day-they're on the phone with clients or just taking a much-needed coffee break.
*Are you willing to put in several hours a week for recordkeeping? Incorporated businesses require submitting monthly or quarterly reports even during periods of no sales. Even a sole proprietorship has at least some paperwork that must be dealt with regularly.
*Are you going to operate out of your home? Before you get your heart set on working out of your home make sure you're allowed to. Not every community will allow you to operate a business from your residence.
*What are you going to do with your children? What about your pets? I have never made soap in my home and I can't possibly recommend that you do, either. Sodium hydroxide is capable of producing horrible chemical burns, especially if ingested.
*Can you deal with criticism? Honest criticism from a potential customer is one thing but a catty remark from a jealous competitor is something else
If you can answer these questions with a firm "Yes! I want to be in business" you're to be congratulated. You've done more homework than 90 percent of your competition.
Lisa Barger is a traditionally trained naturopath who puts her knowledge of herbal products to work in one of the oldest and most respected personal care companies on the internet. Learn more about Lisa at her website LisaBarger.com
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