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When to Start Outsourcing Production for Your Handmade Business

Updated 08/23/2022

As a solopreneur, you’ve always done everything for your business yourself. You’ve worn many hats, spent countless hours learning (the easy and hard way), and built something you’re proud of — and your business only keeps growing! So, is it time to bring in some help? How do you know when it’s right? And where do you even begin?

Keep reading to find the answer to these questions!

Signs That It’s Time To Outsource

The "when" can’t be answered the same for every handmade business. For some, it may be within the first year and for others, it may be after a few years. But if you’re asking the question, that is probably the first sign that it’s your time to hire some assistance.

Here are some of the signs that it’s time to hire help:

  • Sales are increasing month over month
  • The hours and days go by in the blink of eye and your to-do list keeps growing
  • You no longer have time to strategize and develop new ideas
  • Your branding/marketing has taken a back seat
  • You’ve had to close your Etsy shop or website to ensure you fulfill the orders you’ve already received

Facing these things is a testament to the incredible job you’ve done and the quality of your product(s). Hiring help will only take your business to the next level!

Analyze Your Business

But before you can take that leap and actually begin interviewing to hire a manufacturer/vendor or an employee, we recommend taking a step back to analyze what’s working well for your business, where exactly you need help, and what’s important to you as you transition to expanding.

What do you want to spend the majority of your time doing (even if it’s not what you’re currently doing every day)? These activities are probably what inspired you to start your business.

What activities do you tend to put off? Think of the tasks you dread doing or that take more time than they should because you’re not the best at them. These are the activities your new in-house hire or vendor should be a master at.

What activities do you wish you had time for but don’t? Think of the things you’ve had lingering on your list but tend to fall to the bottom since they don’t directly affect your day-to-day or sales right now. This can be networking with other creatives, photographing your products to take updated photos for your website/social channels, etc.

Do you have your processes/tasks streamlined and documented? If so, hiring in-house will be a bit easier. If not, that’s ok. Are you willing/have the time to do so? Outsourcing/ordering from manufacturers eliminates this step for you as they already have their own ways of getting the job done. You’ll just spend time with them at the beginning to ensure they get it right to your standards, ingredients, packaging, etc.

What’s your budget for the new addition? Take the time to analyze your finances over the last year with your accountant to determine what your budget is. Don’t get discouraged if your budget isn’t huge at first. You can certainly begin hiring someone part-time or as an independent contractor just for a specific event/pop-up until you have a better grasp on the value it brings. You have the same option when working with a vendor/manufacturer—hire them to handle one important task with a clear goal that will allow you to determine if it’s worth scaling up or down next time.

Put It Into Practice

For example, if printing and labeling takes up a good chunk of your day and you don’t enjoy it, consider working with a vendor that can create custom labels for your best-selling products as opposed to the blank ones you’re doing yourself.

Outsourcing this small task can make the biggest difference in your business. And the beauty of working with a vendor is you’re not required to go all in on anything. Blank labels may still be the best option for some of your seasonal products or ones you don’t sell as often. You can decide if you should go with blank or printed labels here.

You can see that there’s two paths to consider that will set you up to scale your business: hiring in-house and outsourcing. The choice on the best path requires a lot of thought and planning but both are big investments into your business’s future.

We hope this resource was helpful for you as you scale up your business! Need labels for your products? Shop our selection of blank labels by size, or get them professionally printed by us with custom printing!

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