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Overwhelmed and Need Focus!

1161 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  ryan barker
Hello Everyone! I'm new. I've been lurking for a few months and I've finally decided to post.

My husband and I have for 2 months been sublimating custom iphone cases. We have also been learning to screen print t-shirts. And messages on this board have got me interested in rhinestones!

My husband and I also do a few local signs and vinyl car decals including family stickers.

I'm losing focus fast. I have so many ideas swirling - we don't have a store front or an outlet locally so we don't really have a 'market'. I am using eBay and Etsy and Facebook to sell the products that I do.

Any advise for a newbie on how to narrow down the scopes of all these great products that are possible and how to market them?


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You've made a great decision narrowing your focus. Be the best at a few things.

Decide what it is you are going to be specializing in, then figure out who buys those things in quantity.

Make a list of those buyers. Keep that list on your desk and create a plan to attack that business. Make samples, send letters and emails, stop in for a visit.

If you have a day job decide that you are going to make one cold call EVERY day on your way home from work (or before depending on schedule). If you do not have a day job spend half of your week cold calling and the other half producing the work you sell.

Call on customers and prospects EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Have you ever seen the Mackay 66? [media]http://www.harveymackay.com/pdfs/mackay66.pdf[/media]
If not, I highly recommend his book Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive.

Above all just make forward progress every day and as long as you put out good work you will have no problems building a customer base for the products you choose to offer.
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There are two ways to approach sales/marketing. You have horizontal and vertical approaches. Horizontal being what you sell a product across a wide market. Vertical is selling product(s) to a niche market.

Unless you have huge capital you will typically find that you will have more success selling to a niche market. When you sell cell phone cases to the masses you are going up against the big boys that have significant marketing and SEO budgets. You will be lost in the shuffle. If you target a market and offer phone cases that are specific to their needs along with other products you stand a better chance.

Most of us have gone through this and the best thing as a samll business you can do is focus and target a specific market.
i have the same problem with all the ideas that pop into my head. some are viable, others are just daydreams and fantasies to pass the day. so, i get where you're coming from, definitely. my current idea involves having an ice company, so every now and then i give it some thought and do a little research to see how practical it would be.

anyway, finding a focus can be hard to do for some people like us because we have a lot of ideas on a lot of different things. if you're like me, it's not so much, 'hey, i sell cell phone cases because that's my passion!' no, it's more about releasing your creativity given the challenges of a product's limitations and advantages and seeing a market for it. for me, the biggest challenge is hanging tough with just a couple of products and not veering off on a tangent. i jokingly tell people that i'm probably the closest they'll ever come to meeting a polymath, but since most people don't know what that is they just assume i'm crazy, and just as well. :)

the business side of me says go with what's making you the most money, but also what has the most potential for profits. in that vein, what's making you the most money? what's the growth potential? do you need to upgrade equipment? do you need a store front? (cell phone cases, for example, i see being sold at kiosks in the mall and flea markets, and there definitely isn't a dirth of options, sizes and designs.) what separates your product from the competition's? how does the competition sell their product, online/retail store/both? what does the future hold for your market? are sales up, down or steady? if you're thinking ahead, what do you think the next trend will be and can you get a jump on that now? (heh heh, this has me thinking about making the leap from cell phone cases to ipad and laptop cases.)

still, what is it that you enjoy doing the most? given that vinyl has a great amount of business versatility, are you happier doing designs for a wide range of products? what are your business goals, if any?

i've found that generally people know the answer to almost anything if someone asks them the right questions. not that i've done that here, because only you know the best mix of emotional, practical and business aspects that's going to allow you to target one or two priorities of everything that you do and can be done.

i'll be honest, though: with the things you mentioned (sublimation, screen printing and vinyl), they all really fall under the same umbrella. imo, i don't see any reason why you should stop doing any of it altogether. my current wife and i own a small convenience store, screen print, make trophies and plaques, do sublimation (when the printer works, which it never does), heat press transfers, and when we finish some upgrades we'll get into vinyl. minus out the convenience store, and all that pretty much falls under the same category. it may seem unfocused, but it's really not (i can't count the number of times i've done trophies or shirts for people that just came in for a coke then i sold them our services, lol).

for you, i'm not sure that you're doing too much, although you may think you are, or that by adding rhinestones you're going too far (i think it's just another service). in that sense, i don't see a lack of focus; however, there may be a lack of specializing by finding your niche market, like riderz mentioned.

how are you doing on those sites, sales-wise? i would think etsy is the one you're doing best with given what you apparently do, no? would having your own site be out of the question? is having your own store out of the question? what do you screen print? where's the main focus right now (which probably amounts to what's selling the best)?
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