Getting Started with Small Scale Production


Outsourcing Workload to Grow Your Business


Lesson Info

Getting Started with Small Scale Production

So I'm gonna talk about some ways to get started with small-scale production. And this actually just like a lot of, being creative and chit-chatting about resources. So at the end of the section I want you to feel confident taking at least one product or one new idea or one component or one something into some kind of small-scale production. Okay, so the easiest way or kind of the smallest level way, is finding a person local to you to help with your own product production that your doing. So as an example i said before I put eyes into bags with a sticker. (laughs) local contract work, finding someone close to you who can come over to your house, take the eyes put them in the baggies. So some people ask how do you pay for something like that? Contract work is kinda tricky sometimes to figure out how to pay for. So what's a standard practice is lets say, I think going wage is $12 an hour. I would ask a couple of people, friends, whatever. I would time them, how many can you put in a bag...

gie in an hour? Right, and I would say, so and so did this many bags, so and so did this many bags and you would average it out into a price per piece. And so because contract work is easiest to pay per piece, if someone's going to go home and do the baggies on their own and come back. It's just easier to charge, to pay someone correctly if you know, oh you did 1000 bags. That's what your going to get paid. So that's just one way on the side to calculate how to pay for piece work. Piece work is, by definition, a really great way to have someone who's a contractor instead of an hourly rate. And getting someone to do it in their own home is another great indicator that they're a contractor and not an employee, so that's a good thing to keep in mind. So, yeah, if you're producing something, your sewing, you need someone to do some photo editing, whatever you need someone to do. Finding someone local who will do these specific tasks, low-hanging fruit, is a super-easy way to get started. Okay, creating personalized products. So a lot of this comes from my background as running an online shop where I basically just come up with all of the products, that I sell. So the easiest way to create a custom product is to just find someone who has a custom listing as part of their product offering. So one example is just heading over to Etsy, finding someone who either has the Custom tab selected on their item. Or just add "custom" to a search. So why would you want a custom product? Maybe, like we said, you were selling bags and you wanted to add keychains to each of them, right. You thought, boy my bags are selling really well. If I added a monogrammed keychain that would increase the value by $10 but it would only cost me $5, right. So that's a way of adding value that's allowing you to get higher profit margins. So you might search for someone who does leather keychains and embosses my logo or embosses a saying right. Maybe the saying is like, purses rock or, I don't know, something funny. You don't have to be capable of embossing on leather the something funny, you can order that from another person. Looking for someone who does it this way as a custom product, it's gonna be a lot more limited than some of the other ways we're talking about. I'm starting small and kinda going bigger. These are going to be already defined items. Limited in selection it's usually mostly about popping a logo onto an existing item. Another thing I get done a ton is one-inch buttons with my logo on it. It's a nice little like goodie, a little add-on. Even if you have like an event or a digital product like and you see someone at a show handing them like a little badge that has, you know, your logo on it. That can be like a nice, little extra or a goodie. That's probably the example most people think of. So these are bags I had made, so that's well that's the old Nelson, now you know. (giggles) before he got his makeover. I just searched for, these are just canvass bags and a crocheter would use these to put their projects that they're working on, in. So that it wouldn't get all scuffed up. That's my aqua color that I use for my website and that's my logo and it says Fresh Stitches on it. I use this as an upsell to a kit so you could a deluxe kit that had this along with a badge and a hook in it. And it was also a separate item that I sold. And so like we talked about earlier some people feel like, that's cheating I didn't make it myself. Well, like, when you go some, I don't know, fancy, like, designer, do you really Micheal Kors is sewing it himself? He's not, newsflash, he's not. So and although it goes back to determining what's the root of your product? If the root of your product is that you are sewing it yourself and that you are the maker of this, then maybe this isn't gonna work for you. But if you're selling really great accessories that help crocheters have fun then it can work for you. Okay, so think about what's really essential to your customer and what kinda isn't. Another example I had, there's Nelson everywhere, everyone loves an owl, is I had my logo put on these tiny pair of scissors. So this is the sexy knitter so she sources the scissors herself, she worked with a supplier to get these tiny, little scissors that travel in your bag. And I saw she was putting her logo on them. And I said, hey how many would I have to order to put my logo on them? And she said this many, there we go. So then I had my logo on them. And that was something I could sell as an upsell to a product. Or, you know, for people who have bigger products it could be a giveaway or whatever. So sometimes just ask, like, hi Etsy seller can you put my logo on your thing? (giggles) okay, stepping it, like, up a notch. Is finding a maker who can create a custom product for you from scratch, sorta, based on their skillset already. So this could like an entire product, I'm gonna show you some necklaces that I had made. But it could also be a component, so ... I wanna think of something different from purses, what do other people ... But like purses, like you could get the handle made, you could get a custom clasp made. If you sell jackets you could get the buttons made. What are some other things people make ... I mean if you're a yoga teacher, you could get the mats custom made, I mean could you imagine if you walked into a yoga studio and there were all, like, custom, like, Staci yoga mats? And you could buy a Staci yoga mat for the special price of something expensive? There's so many ways to, water bottles, like to put branded merchandise with a hand-made product that kinda make it, like, I don't know, the next thing. So here's some examples. So these are necklaces I had made. They say I heart yarn, they have the odd side-effect that random people not in the yarn industry think it means "I love you", people walk up to you on the street and they I love you too. And I go, great thanks. (laughs) that's a different story. (giggles) so I wanted an acrylic necklace that was like a statement piece. All my stuff on my site's rainbow colors, it's always available in rainbow colors. And I just saw on Instagram an acrylic maker. She, Designasaur's who made them, she actually makes dinosaur-shaped things. And I just messaged her and I said, hey do you do, like, any shape? Like, if I asked you for a shape, could you do it? And we talked about it, economy of scale. She already owns a laser-cutter, she already owns the acrylic, she already owns the CAD software, that's the input. She already had all of the capabilities to do this. And so I was able to get a completely exclusive, custom product for nothing more than placing a minimum order. So I think, and I mean it was very low, like seven of each color, something that wasn't, certainly wasn't crazy. You would probably, could expect to pay a design fee. You know you're going to have to work on the individual arrangement. But I seriously just messaged her and said: hey, is this something we can do so I can make a product for my shop? On the other end, the maker is kinda excited to do something like this because it's a huge order. I mean, you know, 50 necklaces isn't nothing. And it's one sale, she's not trying to sell each necklace herself, she just got like this one order for cutting, you know, this one thing over and over again. So it can work really well both ways. And I also let her include her branding and her everything on the boxes, so it's also a potential sale for her. So this is the sorta of thing where I was saying, like if you have a purse and you let someone put their planner in it or whatnot. It can be an upsell for you, but it also can kick back to them. So some people are really excited about working in these kinds of collaborations. The other thing that's great with working with someone who makes this product regularly, like necklaces. Is that I didn't own any boxes for necklaces, I didn't own any, like this thing is some kind of foam that has little slots in it or whatever for holding necklaces. She took care of all that, so all of those costs associated with packaging and all that stuff I didn't have to worry about, so that was really great. And like I said, she was able to include her promotional material, she could've sent me cards, coupon code, whatever. So it was a really great collaboration. This is May, who we're gonna see later on this afternoon. She makes polymer-clay food-scented jewelry, shaped like food and I just said, like, it can't be that hard to make yarn, can it? So (laughs) why not? So with a minimum order she made yarn-skein necklaces. These were super-popular in my shop. And again she was just able to tuck in her branded box, her other thing. And it worked really well. Another person who does a lot of this, so Spacecadet is a yarn company, and she has a subscription club where she sells yarn that goes out on a monthly basis. And she's always adding what she calls "swag" to the package. And so at first she just went to a potter so Pawley Studios is a potter and said: hey, can you put my logo on it? Like, how many do I have to order for you to do that? You just order a certain number and they were happy to do it. And it was so successful and so popular that it's now just a regular item in her shop. And so on one hand you'd think, like, she sells yarn, why is she selling mugs in her shop? But it works really well because her fans are really into her logo. She's also really big on drinking tea, so that works really well. And these bowls are yarn bowls so you can use your yarn in the yarn bowl, so it's like a compliment item. And she didn't have to go learn to throw pottery herself right? The way to grow isn't always just doing your own thing, all by yourself. But she's been able to expand her shop selection and, you know, she's making a profit from these as well. An example of yarn that I had made for my shop from SpaceCadet, it's like a whole circle, (laughs) is these mini-skeins. So, I always offer rainbow things in my shop. Stephanie from SpaceCadet dyes yarn. She had these colors already available but they're full skeins of yarn, so it's a lot. So like if you wanted to make a rainbow of them it would cost a whole lot of money cause it's a lot of yarn. And I said, well like what would it take to make miniature ones so I could sell them like a little bundle? There's a minimum order and I just get that minimum, and there you go, so. It's a product that she already had available. I was able to ask her to make it in a certain size for me. We recreated the ball-band so it says like "special limited edition collaboration". And now I have a shop exclusive that appeals to my customers, it's not terribly much extra, you know, work for her. And then it's a new product and then both of our fans are excited about it right. So her fans can get this smaller availability that they couldn't get ordinarily and my fans are meeting a new maker. Just so many examples of ... (laughs) so this is, rainbow fabric. So Shiny Happy World is a quilter who sells fabric. And she sells them in what's called "fat quarters" which is a quarter yard but it's square instead of thin. And I said, I dunno, that's a lot of fabric for my customers who might not be doing as much sewing. Can you do "fat eighths"? Sure, why not? So here they are, fat eighths, exclusive to my shop. Something my customers were really interested in. Also something that had her branding, it had like a note, like a coupon to go to her shop. And really all you have to do is ask and say can you make that different or special for me? Etsy just started Etsy manufacturing a little while ago. So this is a great way to look for components. So basically you search by genre, you're searching for makers by genre. So apparel and textile, machining and fabrication, jewelry, metalsmithing. So if you need a metal belt buckle for your line of belts or whatever it is you need. You would go and you search by the product type. Or the kind of manufacturing thing, metal, wood, whatever. And look for a person and then you would talk with them about what it would take to get the product made. You might expect a minimum order, you might also expect, like, a development fee. Those kinds of things would be pretty normal. But if you're getting a custom belt buckle or whatever kind of thing there is. You're not going to be able to make it yourself. Going to someone else is just a really clever way of getting the manufacturing done. Another example of something that's super-hot right now is the enamel pins. So that, my old logo, all these photos are with my old logo. So this is from Made by Cooper there are enamel pin manufacturers out there. You send them your logo and they make you pins. You can always just google "thing you need" manufacturer and just see how it works out. I think the minimum on these is something like 100. You know so sometimes you're invested a bit in the product. Because no one wants to make you two. But at the same time if it's something you're going to offer regularly in your shop. Give out regularly to your customers then it's a pretty solid thing to have around. Are there questions about small-scale manufacturing? if you're looking at something like this for, you're looking, when you're going to buy 100. You're looking for a couple of years out, like something you're going to continue to carry? Sure, yeah so most of these examples are geared towards people with a shop, well there's two different ways to think about it actually. A shop with ongoing, really consistent products. So you can, if it doesn't sell, you're still selling them next year, you're still selling those purse handles two years on the line. The flip side of looking at it is making it available for a limited time only. So like the fabric bundles, I don't always sell fabric in my shop. It's not, it's compatible with my audience but it's not the core of what I sell. So it was limited-time. It was, you know, the minimum quantity I got and once it sells out it sells out and that's also a really big motivator for customers as well. You can only get this thing while it's available and then it's gone. You're right, you don't want to be steeped down in some huge order that you don't think you can sell within the next year or so. And you also don't want to go too crazy in getting products that are really outside of your production range.

Class Description

Most small business owners begin by doing it all. But as you grow, you’ll probably find that you need help. But what kind of help? And where do you go to get it?

In Outsourcing Workload to Grow Your Business Stacey Trock will show you how to navigate the options for getting the help you need for your business. From bookkeepers and accountants, to graphic designers, photographers and web designers, to virtual assistants, to production assistants, to overseas factories, to marketing agencies...there is a whole world of freelancers able to help your business run more smoothly!

In this class you will learn the following:

  • The range of freelancers that are available, and what role they can fill in your business
  • How to write a procedures manual for your business, making the delegation of work as seamless as possible
  • How to hire a virtual assistant and streamline your business into tasks that can be carried out by someone other than you
  • The difference between a contractor and an employee, and the pros and cons of each
  • How to outsource the production of physical items for your shop, including working with local artisans and navigating the process of ordering custom items from overseas factories (via Alibaba)

By the end of Outsourcing Workload to Grow Your Business you’ll learn how to decide what is truly important in your business and what your time is worth.  The secret to successfully turning over portions of your business is to structure your workload into systematic and well-defined capsules, which can be handed off to a largely-independent freelancer; freeing you up to do the things that you really love!