So you want to start a business knitting toys and selling them? It can be tricky knowing where to start. For a really small outlay it is possible to get going from your kitchen table. Knitting by Post started this way so we have experience of this.
There is so much to do and think about such as getting pricing right, deciding on the right toys to make, postage, sellers fees etc. This guide will hopefully help you to approach your new venture with a logical and ordered way.
So first things first. What toys do you want to knit and sell? It might sound like an obvious thing to ask and you may well already know but getting a product wrong can stop a small business in it’s tracks.
If you have an idea, look around on the internet and see what others are selling that is similar. If nobody else is doing it, then ask why not. It could be because there isn’t a market for it but more importantly it could be that you have stumbled on a good idea. The opposite is also true. If there are hundreds of people selling an item then it may be that there is too much competition for your knitted items and you will get lost among all the others.
- Point of difference
It may sound tricky, especially if you aren’t used to selling yourself or your knitting. What makes you different to the others that you have been looking at already? It could be that you offer a personal service or it could be that you want to use the best materials. Think carefully and then sing it from the tree tops when you get going. If you know what makes you different then you have an advantage over your competition but don’t forget to tell everyone!
It is easy when selling knitted items to under value your work. Don’t do it! You could easily be out of pocket if you sell yourself short. You will also devalue what you are making. The opposite is to charge so much that you don’t sell anything. It is a tricky thing to do.
There are lots of things to consider when selling your goods and the last thing you want is to be out of pocket. Get a piece of paper and write down exactly what each of the following is going to cost you.
Your raw materials per item. This could be yarn, toy stuffing, safety eyes.
Pay yourself the living wage. If something takes you 2 hours to make then add this to the price
Costs of selling
If you sell on a selling platform such as Etsy or Ebay then look carefully at their charges. They often charge a price to list an item and then a percentage of the selling cost on top too. Don’t forget to factor this in, it could wipe out your profit.
Marketing and Advertising
Don’t think that this is free. You may decide to sell using social media such as Facebook which is great but it takes up time that you could be knitting with. It is a trade off between advertising and social media marketing. You could put 0 in your budget to start with but you might find that this isn’t enough after a while.
Include the price of boxes, wrapping, tape, labels as well as postage.
Do you go in the car to the post office? You need to price for this too
Then there’s all the other boring stuff
You need to factor in electricity while you are working. Wear and tear on your computer, internet access, liability insurance, any travel expenses such as picking up your raw materials. The list can go on.
Get yourself a business plan. Even if you can’t fill it all in to start with, it is a written statement of what you want to do and what it is going to cost. Review it every week until you get going properly.
- Get the legal bits right
There are three legal considerations if you are in the UK.
You have 3 months to register with HMRC as a business after you begin trading. As you don’t have to do this straight away, it might be worth delaying until you have to register so you can try your ideas out and see if it works. Don’t forget to do it though!
Liability insurance is an other must. If you plan to sell on craft stalls, you could get market traders insurance which is cheaper. Liability insurance in the UK is about £10 per month in 2019.
Lastly there is CE testing. If you plan to sell knitted toys – and some novelty items then CE testing is a must. You can read the UK government guidance using the link below. Certification can be done at no financial cost and is self regulating.
- Start small
Do you research, make one knitted piece, put it up for sale and see what happens. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient, it will build over time.
After all that, don’t be put off by how much there is to do. Many successful businesses start this way. It takes hard work and many hours to start with without pay. You need to be prepared for that, nobody will give you something for nothing. If you get it right though it can lead to a successful small business and financial freedom for you.
Other information that you may find useful
Health and Safety Executive advice on CE Marking