As with any business, before you start, you have to do a lot of research and decide on exactly what you are going to be making and selling. Blacksmithing should be treated like any other business and taken as seriously as you would take any other. There are a number of blacksmiths who are truly winning with their blacksmith businesses. We have compiled an extensive list of tips from successful blacksmith business owners.
1. Customer service: Your customers and potential customers are the lifeblood of your business. They are the backbone of the business. They are the wind beneath your wings. Got it? Yes, that’s how important your customers are to your business. You must treat them with utmost respect and politeness. Make sure to respond to every call or email within 24 hours. If you cannot help them with what they want, still call back, tell them what you do, politely and refer them to someone who can help them. One day they might need your services and remember how nice you were to them. Greet every customer who walks in to you shop as if they are your most important customer; and treat and answer every question as though it were the first time you were hearing it.
2. Affordability: Most of your items might generally be higher priced. If this is the case, you do not want your potential customers to come in and be scared off. So, an advisable thing to do is to always have items that go for between $5-$25 on display. This way, they can easily buy them with the lose change in their purses. The next time they want something more expensive, they will think of you. Also, you can display your high end items as well, but the cheaper ones are more likely to fly off the shelves more quickly.
3. Marketing: Marketing is very important to your business. I have made another post on great tips for marketing your blacksmithing business, which you can check out ‘here’.
4. Record keeping: I cannot overemphasize the importance of record keeping. It is not optional. It will be impossible to know the value of your work without any records. You need to keep records of how much it costs you to run the shop, taxes and bills. You should also keep records of all the mileage you drive for the business. Dates are also very important. Payment dates, deadlines etc must be recorded. Record every cent you make in your record keeping book or app. Make note of the cost of all the materials used and consumables. Record how much time you spend on each step of the project (this will also help with your pricing). Record keeping will help you to be aware of the amount of time you spend doing jobs, and also allow you make better estimates. Like every other business, blacksmithing business is all about the numbers. It will help you make actual profit, once you take everything into consideration.
5. Pricing: You should be careful not to undercharge, because the other smiths in your neighborhood will be unhappy with you because you will be undercutting them. You should price based on how long it takes you to complete a job. You should not undervalue or overvalue your work. With good record keeping, you should be able to make good estimates and calculations, so that when you have a project, you can easily calculate and tell the customer. If it is too expensive for your customer, trying working with them to simplify the design, so it can be more affordable for them. To lower the price, without simplifying the design is to work at a loss, and it shows you were overpricing them in the first place. Both of which are bad for business.
6. Hire somebody: Like most artists, many blacksmiths suck at handling the business side of things. Most businesses fail, not because the blacksmith is unable to deliver excellent jobs but because he does not understand how to run the business side of things. To be quite honest, handling the business side of things is the most difficult part and many people are unable to do it. It is perfectly okay to admit that you cannot handle this side of things by yourself. Trying to do everything by yourself will eventually be a case of, penny wise, pound foolish. You will lose more money in the long run. Your best bet is to hire someone who is able to handle these things for you. It does not have to be professional accountant; it can be an accounting student – someone who can learn quickly on the job, deliver everything you need, whilst allowing you focus on the production parts.
7. Consider selling online: Even if you already have a shop in a certain location, it does not mean your customers only have to be from your vicinity. You can set up an online store free of charge on Instagram or Facebook, upload pictures of your work and sell from there. All you need are, a good internet connection, a good camera phone to take pictures of your products and voila, you are good to go. Consider offering free shipping on sales over certain amounts to encourage your customers to buy more than they would normally have. Online shops allow you to cater to people in other states and even people in your state who are too lazy to come to your shop, themselves.
8. Take a business course: Taking a business course would be cheaper than hiring someone to handle the business side of things for you, in the long run. There are cheap courses and even free course you can learn online. They will cover the basics and you will be ready to handle your own business. The rest of what you need to know, you will learn on the job.
There are even more tips and again, I will advise you research, join forums and learn from others who are more experienced than you. Good luck with your business venture. Have you got any more tips or experiences you would like to share? Please leave comments below.