15 Things to Know When Starting a Small Business

NOV 25, 2017 updated Jun 2, 2021

Over the past (almost!) 10 years, the Spoonflower community has grown into a family of designers, crafters and makers. You could consider Spoonflower a melting pot of talent where one artist’s strength in design supports another artist’s strength in making. We love seeing these collaborations grow and we’ve even gotten to know some of the small business owners on a personal level through the Meet the Maker series on the blog. If you’ve ever considered taking the steps to owning your own business, you won’t want to miss these words of wisdom our maker community is sharing today! 

"If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone. Be authentic and create a style, let it evolve as needed and then shout it out from the rooftops! Your people will find you.” - Elisabeth Wing of Wingmade | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Elisabeth Wing of Wingmade

There’s a lot of work in the book work and taxes. This is the not-so-nice part about running a small business, though you’ll learn a lot as you go. - Jane Newham, Doops Designs | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Jane Newham of Doops Designs
4. "If someone doesn’t believe in your goal, you’ve got to remove them from your life. Surround yourself with positivity." - Maddie Flanigan, Madalynne | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Maddie Flanigan of Madalynne
6. Instagram is where I’ve gained all of my business. I’ve connected with other makers, mothers, artists—it’s a true community designated for creatives. Annie Casale, WRAREDOLL | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Annie Casale of WRAREDOLL
"Have a business and legal advisor. They provide sound business advice and direction that you’ll apply over the years and it really helps your business grow and mature.” - Ashley Alexis McFarlane,  Omi Woods | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Ashley Alexis McFarlane of Omi Woods
Good product photography is the best way to show your audience that you have a good product. Adobe Suite skills and editing capabilities can also be crucial to your art. - Elisabeth Wing, Wingmade | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Elisabeth Wing of Wingmade
Etsy helped me get started selling my textiles, thinking about how much to charge, how to advertise, how to photograph, how to brand. Spoonflower has allowed me to make my own textiles. Local craft sales have been a great way to make connections.- Zoë Linn Anderson | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Zoë Linn Anderson
"As much as you wish it was possible, not everything can be done on your own. You have to find your squad who will love and support you no matter what and who will always help you accomplish your dreams and goals." - Maddie Flanigan, Madalynne
Meet the Maker: Maddie Flanigan of Madalynne
"Polish your math skills.” - Yaling Hou Suzuki, Flowie | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Yaling Hou Suzuki of Flowie
"Stay true to yourself and stay within your personal boundaries and be happy with your decisions even if it disappoints someone else." - Tina Dixon, Buddha Babe | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Tina Dixon Spence of Buddha Babe

15 Things to Know When Starting a Small Business | Spoonflower Blog

"Always strive for freshness." - Cinne Worthington of C.Banning Accessories | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Cinne Worthington of C.Banning Accessories

As we’ve read in the many Meet the Maker interviews, there’s one thing we’ve learned from everyone: it’s not always sunshine and rainbows when you are your own boss.

Doing what you love and making a business doing what you love are not the same thing. The “business” part has (nearly) nothing to do with doing what you love and requires a completely new set of skills and traits. Cheryl Oldon, Ollie Jones Clothing
Meet the Maker: Cheryl Oldon of Ollie Jones Clothing
"It takes a lot of persistence and tweaking to match your products with those that could benefit from them.” -Jen and Madeleine Anderson, Gigy Bags | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Jen and Madeleine Anderson of Gigy Bags
It can take years to get to something that is both sustainable and profitable. You will feel like you're spending every extra dollar that comes in on the things you need to keep it going. It’s a lot to take on, and it makes sense that it takes awhile to get it right.” Kathryn Zaremba | Spoonflower Blog
Meet the Maker: Kathryn Zaremba

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, or maybe you are already on the journey, just remember these words from Bethan Ludlam of Lsea Swim when times get tough:

It takes failing or not knowing all the answers to really push yourself and make it happen. That forces you to learn for yourself which makes you stand out in the end because you’re more invested, since the answers weren’t all given to you." Bethany Ludlam - Lsea Swimwear

Bonus! Now that you’ve learned 15 tips from the Spoonflower maker community, it’s time to learn how to craft your business with Spoonflower

"Thinking outside of the literal box, you can use Spoonflower fabric and wrapping paper branded with your business identity to create a professional and unique “unboxing” experience. - Sharon Fain, founder and director of the Academy of Handmade | Spoonflower Blog

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  • Ever since I came across spoonflower, I developed a new passion for surface pattern designs. I was a student back then and I always found my inspiration in colors and patterns from spoonflower.

  • Finding Spoonflower was the key in launching my own small business. Custom printed fabrics in designs by very talented artists is everything that I could have ever needed. It’s opened up a world of options for me to find my brand’s voice and image.

  • Make sure you know the legal requirements, if any, for your business. Many people don’t know that there are federal safety regulations for all children’s products! Sadly, this is an area that most legal professionals know nothing about. The CPSC website is a great place to start for small businesses and the FTC has labeling information for textile products in their Threading Your Way through the Labeling Requirements document. There is a great FB group that helps break down this information: US Product Safety Compliance.

    As far as taxes and business registration, make sure you vet your professional. There are many out there who don’t know how small handmade businesses operate and don’t know how to handle inventory (anything that goes into making a product), which is considered an asset.

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks so much for sharing these helpful business tips and resources!
      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • THANK you, When your older, like me…..I feel Froze in ideas…running every wher,in my mind,I love the challanges here,I write dates themes,yet it seems each time,i start….Its over! Anty tips on ….
    getting focused ” my art is useless if I cant use it…..
    please note/my website is not proper- over year still cant get navagation to work correctly….And my actual Face Book I cannot get in, its been years? WHY/ why? does this happen, might It be hijacked? please share if possible,and you find time to……

    Every one seems to be so organized, know how to approach and set goals. I Love all of what I see here At Spoon Flower…….
    yous allways have such good Shares, Is there a group that helps each other stay focused?
    For over 5 years,possibly more, No matter what I try, my Mobile devices, arent reliable, I have used ,color tab type stuff all wrong, And Does most of you mazing designers all use Adobe Ilustrator? How About AutoDesk?
    well….I pray, I get to enter some challange, and , understand what is it ,that I get so off centered…..
    linda ann

    • Hi Linda Ann,

      Thanks so much for stopping by the blog! The Spoonflower community is a great place to find inspiration and we suggest taking a look at the Spoonflower Fans group on Facebook to connect with other designers. To learn more about our weekly design challenges, please click here!

  • Anne Dykstra

    I’m so excited to have found Spoonflower! A mother of 5 who is now an empty nester. Finding Spoonflower has sparked my engine and my creative juices !!!! I’m placing my first order tonight. This project will be one of 31 Projects that I’m doing in July. I’m challenging myself to to grow , develop, learn new skills and techniques as well as to meet my goal each day to complete the project. One project each day, SEW WHAT!

    • Hi Anne,
      We’re so happy to have you! Please let us know how your 31 projects go.

      Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Hi. I have recently ‘stumbled across’ Spoonflower, and I am mesmerised by the fabrics, designs, creative ideas and posts. I love the website.
    I live in the UK, and whilst I acknowledge international posting is an option, does anyone reading this have any experience of such as ordering etc., because as far as I can see there is nothing similar here in the UK?

  • Terri RaFalik

    Spoonflower is always a source for great ideas. Thanks for keeping that creative spirit alive in me.

  • I love Spoonflower!!!
    Today, once again , I wish I could purchase some fabric I love. That day is coming!!! I cannot wait for my first Spoonflower purchase.
    Thank you for your great posts. I eagerly read everyone and dream.

  • All of these are great pieces of knowledge, but I did give quite a laugh with \”polish your math skills\”, cause yeah, I had to polish mine real good!