(Actually, this is a brief list of mistakes I have made so far in managing my handmade jewelry business)
Not advertise enough: Not let everyone know about your brand, your facebook page, your blog. Every customer needs to have some way to get in touch with you. Be it for complaints, more sales or a simple testimonial.
Not gift wrap a gift: Check with the sender if it is meant to be a gift and wrap it up nicely. If not, at least add a note to say ‘Happy Birthday’ or whatever the occasion calls for. A friend ordered a set for her mother and didn’t mention of any particular occasion. Neither did I ask wrongly assuming that she may have mentioned it to her mom since it was a casual “just like that” gift. And needless to say, her mother freaked out on receiving a gift from a random person she had never heard of before.
Deliver before payment is done: Starting off as a (very) small business, I thought it was preposterous of me to ask someone to make a payment before actually delivering their order to them. What will people think if I do that? I decided I was going to ship the product and then meekly send an invoice to request the customer to pay up for what they bought. After that, wait till the payment was done and only then heave a sigh of relief. But in the three years that I have been doing this, I have had my fingers burnt SO bad a couple of times (should I do a post on that?) that I find it less foolish to wait for payment to come through before dispatching my products.
Get carried away and commit way more than you can handle: “Can you make a bracelet to match on these earrings?” And I go weak in the knees (awww! She likes my stuff!) and commit knowing very well that I don’t even have the basic raw material to make it. I make a random plan in my head of heading to the local craft store and hunting down what I am falling short of, sitting late into the night working on the bracelet and then giving it to the customer. After all I have to make the customer happy, right? No. Not at the cost of losing her forever. Because, let’s be practical: You are not going to be able to go to the store today. Even if you manage that, you cannot be sure about getting what you are looking for.
Take feedback but don’t be apologetic: “Why don’t you use a copper hook on this one?” “Do you have any terracotta jewelry?” I’ve heard all kinds of suggestions from everyone. In fact, I make a note of all the ideas and suggestions that people keep bouncing off me and I do plan to work on them. But every time someone throws an idea, I apologise saying “Oh I don’t have a copper hook. Wish I had it so that I could fix it for you instantly. Too bad” NO. Just say “I will see if I can get one for you but do you want to look at other bracelets?”
You could also read this post on my other blog to read how a home based baker I went to recently messed my order in more than one way.