Hot topic this week! Frequently asked questions on Google which I will answer honestly and candidly. You may be surprised!
Is selling homemade soap profitable?
Does making soap make money?
How do I start my own soap business?
The short answer to the above 3 questions is yes, yes and with a lot of hard work. And that final answer is the key. Like most things in life you get out what you put in. I have pretty much lived and breathed soap for the last few years which is why I can answer yes to those first 2 questions.
I am frequently told I am an inspiration, what I have achieved is amazing. I'm lucky! Yes lucky! I wish but the reality is I have worked hard and possibly more importantly, worked smart, and that second point is well worth focussing on - hold it in your mind as I will come back to it at the end.
This seems like a really good time to answer all these questions as would you believe, I featured in a glossy mag, The August 2020 edition of Woman and Home. Not for for my glamour or fashion sense but because I decided I was going to start something new slightly later in life and I'm doing ok with it, maybe better than ok but I don't want to tempt fate and yes for me soap making is paying a good part of my bills.
So if you are considering starting a soap business this is my honest, genuine, because I want you to succeed, advice. Yes it will put some of you off, that is absolutely not my intention. I know some of my soap making students have plans to start their own businesses and I am behind them every step of the way.
So here goes.
1. Learn to make soap, I mean really learn, understand the science, practice, make mistakes. If you need any help with this get in touch, I have online soap making courses, offer hands on one to ones and online zoom brain storming sessions. Everyone needs help and support and investing in yourself really does pay off.
2. Niche right down. Natural, handmade soap is not a niche. Coconut Oil dog soap (my baby) is a niche. You can find me at The Dog and I. Google Dr Squatch. He is very successful. His niche is rugged mens soap. Others specialise in honey or milk based soap. Annings here in Dorset make soap with ground sea shells. Think outside the box.
3. Start off the way you want to be in 5 years time. I started with a really good eCommerce website . Yes it costs me money every month but I am not lining Etsy's pocket. Learn to do it yourself so you can add/ change/tweak it at any time and not have to pay someone to do it.
4. Be legal. You will need insurance and a whole load of red tape fulfilled to sell soaps (see this blog for more info on that) Yes it is a lot of work but perfectly doable.
5. You are going to have to get to grips with social media and have a business account with at least a couple, I am on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And show up regularly. No-one is going to look for you. You need to put in the leg work.
6. If you really want to make a decent wage you are going to have to do wholesale - ie sell your products to other retailers who will sell them for you. Let them do what they are good at ie selling. You do what you are good at ie making soap. Around 70% of my dog soap business is wholesale.
7. Pricing. Get your pricing right to allow for wholesale. Unfortunately we all have bills to pay. There is no point in you making thousands of bars of soap and making very little out of it. (be aware that in the UK if you are not turning a profit by year 3 HMRC may well deem you to have a hobby not a business)
8. Be savvy about what you take on - I have made mistakes here I admit but I have now learnt to say no.. It is your business and if you do not want to make that bespoke line of 20 soaps for the local B & B which is going to take far more time than it is worth then say no.
9. Take all the support you can, online business groups, facebook support groups but don't get sucked into the vortex of listening to every bit of advice or podcast that shows up on your feed. Pick 1 or 2 or in my case 3 that really resonate with you and stick with them.
10. Invest in yourself. I have spent money on attending seminars or purchasing online courses/templates/coaching with a number of different people. I now also have invested in support with social media on a monthly basis. I would not be where I am now without this. And right now means I rent a lovely unit and have signage on the old landy. I would never have had the courage to make the leap to a premises without support and coaching.
I know I have spent a lot of time on point 10 because I think it is really important to spend time and money on these things. They save you a lot of time in the long run and will drive your business forward. When deciding who to ask for business support I would recommend getting to know someone through their free content first. That way you will be able to get an idea of whether they are on your wavelength and the right person for you. That may be a blog, podcast or social media.
11. Get an accountant. Goes back to point 6 really. Stick to what you are good at.
12. Have amazing, and I mean amazing customer service. No customers means no business. Seriously, I am forever grateful to each and every one of mine and I know they appreciate the fact that I pride myself on my customer service.
13. Remember this is a business not a hobby. You may love making decorative soap but you are going to have to make gallons of plain designs because that is what sells best (insert whatever is applicable for those) You are also going to have to spend far more time at the laptop than you ever anticipated.
14. Have faith in yourself. You can absolutely do this if you want it enough. There will be blood (ok maybe not quite blood), sweat and tears. You will doubt yourself. You will have awful lows and mahoosive highs. It will be harder than you think. You will have imposter syndrome. You will get bored making the same soaps again and again, You will agonise over packaging. You will get yourself in a pickle over stock control but you will also be super proud of yourself when you look back and see what you have achieved which takes me back to that key point right at the start. Work smart, pay others where it makes sense to. This can save you a huge amount of time leaving you free to grow your business. And yes there will be hard work involved.
Inspired but all out of ideas to stand out from the crowd?
Let me help you get in the zone with my FREE '5 Unique Soap Business Niche Idea's' download.Nailing your niche is much easier than you may think, you just need to think outside of the box.
If you have any questions at all do drop me an email and I will do my best to help.