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Picking a business

This guide is for folks looking for inspiration in starting a business that is portable, profitable, and relevant to the type of purchasing happening in market settings.

Part 1 - What are you good at?

This could be the question that leads you to a good answer. Other questions might include - what do you wish you could find but haven't seen at local markets? or - What have you seen on holidays at markets that isn't being done here?

Here are some examples of types of businesses:

Artisan

This includes pottery, art prints/paintings, knitting/crochet, macrame, metal art, woodworking, jewelry, sewing, candlemaking etc - anything you can become a professional at creating in your own space. Usually takes a small-medium level of investment in tools, materials, and space.

Food to take home

You don't need a commercial kitchen to make food products to sell at the market, but you do need to ensure you're approved for sale and following Interior Health rules for vending. You can find a full list of those rules here.

Equipment-based

Creating unique products using specialty equipment can be a good business, we have enough folks doing 3D printed toys and freeze-dried candy/fruit - but we see a lot less of CNC wood cutters... maybe there's other equipment you can use to make creative or handy items.

Services

This can be a service at the market, like massage, tarot reading, or in combination with products - we have folks that sell classes as well as products, so they take advantage of the exposure to promote themselves while also selling their wares. 

Local businesses are also welcome to come down and promote themselves as long as they're not selling a product not made by themselves while their at our market. This is a policy that would likely help at other markets as well, as a preference is given to supporting locally made items.

Part 2 - How do I know if it's a good idea?

Niche is the name of the game here, what is your niche?

Theres a bit of wiggle room to these questions, but they should give you a good feeling or a bad feeling about the idea you have, and they're part of having a conversation with yourself before getting started. The wiggle room comes in when you look at how your idea fits in the community, and if you need to create more specificity to your idea so it has it's own niche.

Here's how you test your idea for plausibility: 

Is it being done?

Time for research. If you find someone else with a similar idea, that can be ok if you find some way of making the idea your own so it's not the exact same. If you start to find more people doing the same idea, maybe pick a different idea.

How easy is it to copy this idea?

Steps like: specific equipment, long time to learn, financial investment, or any other qualifier that could make it difficult to do helps to protect you from other people starting your business after you. The more of these you're ok with could be protection for you and mean your idea is a good one.

Cost vs Sale

Here comes a firm rule you need to follow. You need to do some math. You cannot start thinking 'I'll just make stuff and sell it, and that's good enough'. Answer each of these onto a piece of paper.

If you're going to spend $45/night setting up, plus pay for equipment, and spend your time - how much money do you need to make to be happy at the end of the night? How many of what you have do you need to sell? What will it cost to make that many of those? Do you think you can make that many comfortably? What if you only sold half that? What if you sold double, can you make it without stressing yourself out too badly and hating this?

A good margin is 3x, if something costs you $1, you should be able to sell it for $3. As items get more expensive this can shift and become 2x or 1.5x, but always consider your time as well.

Now that you've thought about these questions, how do you feel? Sometimes friends can be good to help you think this through, sometimes they don't have the same vision or ability to execute as you do and they're wrong... follow your instincts. If you can answer that not many people are doing what you want, that it's hard enough to start that people won't steal your idea, and that the margins are there so it'll make you money - then you have a good idea.

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