On Finding a Focus

What to do, what to do? It is a hard question to answer, harder than it may seem, when you are first getting things started. If you have a trade or skill set that can be applied to a wide variety of goods, narrowing down just what you ply your skills too can be a daunting task.

So, how do you figure out what to focus on? For some, they'll feel a definite passion toward one aspect of work over another. For others, they may just be in the dark as far as what is actually worth their time. If you are trying to make a business out of this endeavor you have to, unfortunately, fall upon that age old adage that time is, quite truly, money. For instance, I really like the idea of a straight razor. To be honest, I think they can be made to look like beautiful and functional pieces of art. How often, though, do you think people are really going to buy them? Hell, they might think your straight razor is the best damn thing they have ever seen. Doesn't mean they're suddenly going to get in the habit of shaving with one. In the end, you have gained an admirer but have yet to make a sale and have yet to get paid for hours and hours of work. In short... passions don't always pan out.

Don't despair! If you are undecided about what to focus on I have some good/bad news: Variety. When you first get started you are going to make an assortment of things and just see how it all pans out. This means, yes, you will have some straight razors (or your version) gathering dust. Meanwhile, there will be things that you make because you have some spare time or just feel like, "What the heck, why not?" and find that they sell and sell often. As time goes on you will need to actually track what sells, how often it sells, and who buys it. Yep, market research isn't just for big companies. Tedious, far from fun if you are the type that prefers actually making something, but necessary.

In the end you may be finding yourself travelling down a path you did not expect when you first started. The real challenge then, is to find yourself impassioned by the items that people want, to find a desire to continue to make what sells over what first got you interested. You may need to swallow some pride, but heave a heavy sigh and get on with it. In my case, I thought it would be knives and razors and tools and axes... Instead it's jewelry. I still strive to form a market for those things I wanted to make a living making, but the reality is that, as you will find, you need to focus on what makes your business flourish.

Good luck.