On Thursday evenings from 8 to 9pm ET, IBN hosts #HandmadeChat, a Twitter talk show to help handmade and creative entrepreneurs sell more products, have more fun, and be more successful personally and professionally. While the show is aimed mainly at business owners who make and sell handmade consumer products, the topics and discussions can empower and encourage the growth of any small business.
This week's chat was sponsored by OnlineLabels.com. Your one stop source for blank laser, inkjet & thermal labels for your printer.
Our guest this week was Melody Bockelman of Private Label Insider in Texas. On #HandmadeChat, Melody shared a bit about how handmade entrepreneurs can scale their businesses through private label and contract manufacturing. She also offered super mindset tips and ideas to help any entrepreneur think bigger and accomplish more –by doing less — in their business. Read on for my interview with Melody.
Q1 WHAT lS @PRIVATELABELTIP AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION FOR IT? WHAT'S YOUR SLOGAN?
Private Label Tip is a resource for business owners to learn how to create their own product lines, scale up their existing handmade lines and grow their business. My slogan is: “Grow, launch, soar your business!”
Q2 WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?
I started Private Label Tip to educate and teach business owners how to either develop a product or scale up a handmade business through contract manufacturing and private label. In the manufacturing world, so many things are hush hush, and it's an unspoken rule not to reveal that someone else actually makes the product you are selling. It's fine if you don't want everyone to know who makes your product, and we all understand that, but the process breeds secrecy, and that's not good for small startups. My services take the mystery out of the process so you can get on with your business.
Many handmade business owners are right on the cusp of needing to scale up. Their business are expanding and they are running themselves ragged. It's time outsource some of the production, but they don't know where to start, how to find a manufacturer, how to protect their formulas, etc.
Q3 TELL US ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES? WHAT DO YOU MAKE AND WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR ONES?
Currently, I offer an inner circle coaching services and occasionally, one-on-one consulting. The Inner circle program is by far the most popular, and it includes a private Facebook group, private forum, monthly training videos and open calls where we work through their program.
Q4 WHAT ARE THE 3 BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU SEE FACING #HANDMADE BUSINESSES TODAY?
The first is an unwillingness to let go of everyday work of manufacturing so they can dedicate more time to marketing and customer service. The second is trusting the process and being willing to move forward without knowing every little detail before it happens. You have to be willing to go from “just-in-time” manufacturing to buying higher minimums and that scares many people. So getting over fear is big.
Finally, you have to go from doing busy work to doing productive work. All of us are guilty of this from time to time. Don't get so wrapped up in the busy work that you neglect the important work of growing and developing your business.
Q5 HOW DO YOU SUGGEST THESE CHALLENGES BE MET?
Well, you have to let go. That's key. You have to delegate some things. To start this process, write down what your life would look like if you weren't doing everything yourself. Then write down your concerns, questions, fears and obstacles. What is keeping you from moving forward? Identify them, and then figure out what to do about them.
A practical exercise is to log everything you do for a full week. At the end of the week, divide those tasks into for categories: (1) things I must do; (2) things I should do; (3) things I'm doing that are not necessary at all; and (4) things someone else should do for me. Adjust your behavior then to focus on what you need to be doing, and outsource the things you should be doing but aren't doing.
Q6 WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 THINGS YOU SEE HANDMADE BUSINESS OWNERS DOING RIGHT?
Wow! There are so many things. Handmade entrepreneurs are extraordinarily creative, passionate and sincere business owners. I love that they are offering unique products to a market place flooded with “me too” products. They genuinely love creating their products, and seriously, they make the prettiest things. I love that they are very passionate about using high quality ingredients and producing products that are healthy and add a different touch to the market place.
Handmade business owners seem to naturally master the concept that people by from people they like. It's difficult to not fall in love with both the creator of the product when you're dealing with an Indie.
I also see tons of perseverance. Many of them have no business experience, yet right out of the box, they hit the ground running and don't look back.
Q7 WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTRACT MANUFACTURING AND PRIVATE LABEL?
Contract manufacturing takes place when you contract someone else to take over the manufacturing of your formula.
Private label manufacturing take place when a manufacturer bottles a product they already make for you, and put your label on it so you can sell it under your brand.
Q8 HOW DO YOU FIND A CONTRACT OR PRIVATE LABEL MANUFACTURER?
Happi Magazine has a great online resource here, where you can search by company name, category, or keyword.
Q8 WHAT DOES YOUR PRIVATE LABEL OR CONTRACT MANUFACTURING AGREEMENT HAVE TO SAY?
You need a contract that spells out all of the conditions, including what happens if a product is returned, how payments will work (you have to get paid on time!), confidentiality (and what happens if confidentiality is breached), what happens if ingredients are not available, and much more. As more volume is at stake, the and more sophisticated the project is, the more important a contract becomes.
If you are manufacturing very small quantities as a contract manufacturer, you may be able to get away with something far less detailed. Try to cover all bases and all possibilities.
Q9 WHO DO YOU FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOR THE BEST #SMALLBIZ AND #SUCCESS ADVICE, AND WHY?
I follow several people: I follow @kimgarst for social media tips, @sandikrakowski for marketing/copy tips and of course @IndieBusiness for business tips
Q10 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESS BOOKS, AND HOW HAVE THEY HELPED YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
My fav books are “The Magic of Thinking Big.” It's a great book that taught me how to think bigger in my business. I'm also a big fan of @sandikrakowski's book, “Read Their Mind,” on listening to your customers and market place. I've learned a lot of good tips on how to serve my market by answering the questions they are already asking through listening. I love Tim Ferris's, “The 4 Hour Work Week,” because, as a mom and small business owner, I need to be virtual so I can be present to raise my family.
Q11 WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR BUSINESS AS A MOMPRENEUR?
The biggest challenge for me is thinking that I can do it all. I'm just as guilty as other moms of not asking for help and not outsourcing and regularly delegating or ditching activities. (Side note: Watch the movie, “Baby Boom, ” with Diane Keaton.)
I'm constantly asking, “How can I make my business work and still be here for my kids?” It feels like I am always improving and my processes and moving to new options that I wouldn't have considered before — such as using video so I can start reaching my customers in another way while still being present for my girls.
Q12 WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS WORK BEST FOR YOU TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITES?
I fell in love with twitter and planted myself there, actually until @indiebusiness encouraged me to jump into Facebook, which I personally dislike. But it doesn't matter what I like or don't like. My customers are there, so I need to be there too.
Q13 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF IBN?
IBN is really a think tank for me. I love the collective ideas, support and encouragement of the IBN members.
IBN is rather unique in the world of product development and business. Most places are ultra competitive and secretive, but the platform of IBN has created serves as a bedrock of support for its members. It really is an amazing place for business owners in the health and beauty categories to learn and build their businesses.
And Donna Maria is constantly leading with grace, encouragement and innovation, providing relevant training and diversity of thought to help members develop their business. I feel blessed to be apart of IBN.
More About Melody Bockelman
Melody has been an IBN member since December 2012.
Private Label Tip is a resource for businesses looking to create their own private label products or take their handmade business to the next level.
Connect with Melody:
When Is The Next #HandmadeChat?
The next #HandmadeChat will be Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 8pm ET, with Jackie Bernardi of OC Skin Solutions in Newport Beach, California. Jackie will discuss how to create your own skin care regimen using natural ingredients, and how to help you customers and clients select the skincare products that are right for them.
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