Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:
When you’re looking for a way to preserve your memories there are more than enough options to choose from, the real trick is finding the one you like most. Scrapbooking is one of the more popular forms of preserving memories that is available. Of course, not everyone is into the traditional form which is why businesses and websites like ScrapBiz are expanding to include information on newer forms of this popular past time.
Kim Guymon, the owner of ScrapBiz, has stayed on top of the changes in the industry with their new PhotoBook Biz program. Women that have signed up through her website for assistance getting started in the business of selling scrapbook supplies now have access to a software which opens up the potential for business even wider than ever before.
This is not a network marketing opportunity like so many other opportunities out there. ScrapBiz just gives their members the tools they need and advice on what to do. The members take that and do with it what they need to build a business, making their profits their own. No big business above them taking that away.
What is ScrapBiz? How long has it been since your launch?
ScrapBiz is a business support and information network for small, mostly home-based retailers and manufacturers in the Scrapbook industry. We’re like a small business incubator of sorts. We have been in business 6 years in September.
Why did you decide to start ScrapBiz? What was your inspiration behind it?
I was a consultant with a multi-level direct sales company in the industry and found it constraining and frustrating. I was at their mercy for everything and they did a really bad job at distributing products and information – not to mention I was making very little on what I COULD get from them to resell. So, having an entrepreneurial background, I decided to poke around the industry and see if I could find my own suppliers. The trick was finding suppliers who didn’t have a bias against home-based businesses – which had a reputation for being deep discounters at the time. I managed to convince a distributor that I wouldn’t sell their products below the MSRP and they took a chance on me. Once others at my former company found out I had been successful, they started emailing me for information on how THEY could do the same and from that, ScrapBiz was born. Necessity was truly the mother of invention!
Approximately how many ScrapBiz Members are there? What kind of benefits do they receive by going through you rather than starting out on their own? What are some of the costs involved?
We have about 225 members right now. There are lots of benefits of ScrapBiz vs. going it alone. We provide new members with a book that takes them from step one. Then our Member Support Program offers them further information on running their business in the form of a very active members-only message board, monthly business newsletter, links to support businesses and deals with some industry wholesalers. For instance, at one distributor, our members get an additional discount off of the wholesale price of their in-house product line.
Recently, we opened up to established industry retailers who just want to be someplace where others understand what they are going through and where they can be inspired and encouraged. We have a new “Established Business” membership for those who qualify. It doesn’t include the Start-Up Guide since they don’t need it, but it includes the Member Support Program. The costs are very reasonable and can be found at our site. Many of our members say it’s the best money they spend and that we are one of their business partners in a sense.
What benefits do wholesalers find when they work with your members?
The biggest benefit is working with home-based retailers who are true professionals. A lot of people start businesses but don’t know how to run them or don’t act like a business. Our educated members know how to be a good business as well as a good customer to our wholesale partners. Also, being able to tap into this many retailers in the scrapbook industry in one place is a huge plus! Retailers in our industry haven’t grouped together very many places so generally, trade magazines have been the only way for wholesalers to reach them. Wholesalers who work with us give us high marks as customers. We especially love it when they give us special perks and deals.
What is the PhotoBook Biz program that you’ve recently launched? How will your members benefit from this new addition?
The scrapbook industry has changed as digital scrapbooking has risen in popularity. Photo books are very popular ways to make a scrapbook now. I call them the “Scrapbooks of the 21st Century”. We have been talking for a couple of years about how traditional scrapbook retailers could benefit from digital scrapbooking. I have never been satisfied with the answers offered by the industry at large. It didn’t make sense to sell CD’s of backgrounds and embellishments when they could so easily be downloaded from the internet. If someone is computer literate enough to do digital scrapping, then they will be comfortable with downloading whatever they need.
Photo books quickly became the way to go. But, there were limited programs available – just a couple of direct sales companies. I don’t like to work within the confines of a direct sales company so we set out to find a solution that would allow our members to be as independent as we have encouraged them to be. Our partnership with Visan and Rocket Life meets those criteria. They get to set their own prices just like they get to with their traditional businesses and the margins are substantially higher than they could make with a direct sales company. Both of those were strongly desired. Our members can chose to add this to their traditional businesses or not. How or if they take advantage of this opportunity is completely up to them.
You can see an example of how this new business program can be used at my own photo book site: www.photobooksetc.com
Are there any specific changes you’ve seen happening in the scrapbooking industry that maybe big box businesses haven’t noticed yet? Where do you think this industry will go in the coming years?
I see digital scrapping as a big change. Some call it a passing fad, but I see it as the future of our industry. Don’t get me wrong, traditional scrapping will never go away. But, I think digital scrapping has been a disruptive change that few retailers are ready to acknowledge. I also see the rise of custom traditional products. That’s coming. We live in a custom world and I think scrapbookers will start desiring more personalized products. The scrapbook industry is still largely a cottage industry and the changes I see are coming from small businesses like us at the bottom of the heap. The chains catch on at the end of a trend.
I think the biggest challenge of the scrapbook industry is STILL marketing. We haven’t caught on to the idea that we need to beat the bushes for new scrappers. We kind of assumed that “once a scrapper, always a scrapper” but people have burned out and we never did anything to replace them. That’s caused many of our growth challenges.
Where do you see ScrapBiz in the next few years?
Good question. I don’t really know. I hope we’re still around helping entrepreneurial scrapbookers follow their dreams. I’d love to partner with a bigger company in the future who can offer our members more opportunities than we can. We’re doing that somewhat in our relationship with the Professional Scrapbook Retailers Organization at the Photo Marketing Association.
I love what I do! There’s nothing more exciting than a new business owner telling us that she just went down an applied for her very first business license! They’re excited and scared all at once!
What are some of the routes your members take when they start their business through you?
In the early days, most members came with the “direct sales” mind-set and wanted to make a catalog and do home parties. Very few do that anymore. Most of our members start online stores or hold crops. Others start their own manufacturing businesses, kit clubs or make custom albums for others. We’ve even had a couple start their own bricks and mortar store. I think if there’s a business model in the scrapbook industry, it’s been done at ScrapBiz. The sky’s the limit!
What separates you from all those other scrapbook opportunities out there?
We are NOT a direct sales company. I don’t resell products to my members for a profit. They open their own wholesale accounts with companies they choose. We are unusual as we provide them with something that is lacking in many business opportunities in our industry – real-world business support. Because we don’t profit from their sales, we are interested in their overall success – not just how much they’re buying from us. There are a couple of other groups who focus on bricks and mortar stores, but we are the ONLY group with a focus on the small home-based businesses in our industry.
When someone decides to join as a member, what kind of things do you feel they should think about before making that final step into the world of scrapbooking and become an entrepreneur?
They need to understand that it WILL cost them money to start a business. Lots of people don’t want to spend a dime doing it. A professionally done website can do more for you than a home-made one. Image is everything in the world of online retail – your website must have curb-appeal. It doesn’t have to cost you thousands – we have resources for very cost-effective web designers who give our members discounts, but it WILL cost you some dollars to get started. So, you’ll need money for that and to get products to sell.
Also, we encourage people to look at their life plan alongside their business plan. If they are working 60 hours a week at an outside job and have 2 preschoolers, then they will either need to be VERY patient when it comes to setting up their business and starting to see success, or, they might need to wait until they have more time to work on it. As one of my members says, “You can do ANYTHING, but you can’t do EVERYTHING.” You have be realistic in the fact that you are starting a business. It won’t fall from the sky and make you an overnight success – it takes work. Most members say it’s the most fun they’ve ever had, but it’s also the hardest they’ve ever worked.