How to Invest in Your Soap Business's Success Wisely
When you’re getting your soap biz off the ground, you are probably being careful about where you spend your cash. For many new soapmakers in business that often looks like gathering up a list of supplies and going on a shopping spree. Hold up, we need to pump the breaks!
First off, most fresh-faced soap business owners start off their company with way too many products that don't make any sense to their (loosely defined) target market. One of the things most soapmakers do when they invest in one of our programs is to cut out more than 60% of their offerings!
So, popping all your start-up cash into supplies probably isn't the best idea. In fact, you might as well just go give that money to other soapmakers, like you will when you inevitably destash everything.
And though it may be tempting to spend every cent on supplies (which we obviously don’t recommend), there are other investments that you can make in your soap business that will help your soap biz grow waaay faster.
When you invest in your success, you create a multiplier effect on your biz, gaining knowledge that helps you create better products, price more profitably, reach more customers, and save time marketing.
But for a lot of soapmakers, investing in education seems scary. The return on investment doesn't seem as concrete as spending X dollars on supplies to create products you can sell for X dollars.
(We're not going to talk about the fact that a common mistake is not actually knowing your costs...)
Some programs out there use monetary claims and testimonials that tout "I made six figures in less than a year!" and we think these are harmful AF to the new business owners. In fact, in some cases, it's downright predatory because not everyone starts at the same place, and the goalposts get moved for a lot of folks!
We've talked to hundreds of soapmakers who have tried investing in courses, memberships, and workshops, and don't have anything to show for it. So, we get it - it can be hard to know what program is the right fit for you.
So, let's build wins for your soap business together and talk about how to tell the difference between a solid investment and a money pit. Read on for our tips for making foolproof investments for your small biz.
4 Tips for Making Smart Investments in Your Soap Business
Over a decade ago, I made the decision to join a $5,000 business education program to see what I could add to my repertoire. There were tons of flashy reviews on the internet about how this program was the reason business coaches were making six and seven figures.
But at the bottom of the sales page for the program, there lived a tiny disclaimer that said the results presented throughout the marketing copy were atypical and no one should actually expect that.
Turns out all those flashy reviews were affiliates for the program, making 50% commissions on each sign-up, and the creator was notorious for legally chasing bad reviews and getting them removed. That was a very expensive lesson to learn!
Since I've made my fair share of investments (both good and bad) in my business, here are my four big tips for making smart investments in your small business.
1) Find the right small business mentors for you.
There's nothing worse than making an investment out of alignment with your values and vision for your future.
It's so important to get crystal clear about your values and make sure that you invest your money in alignment. Here at Modern Soapmaking, we're feminist, we engage in anti-racist business practices, and our goal is to make a positive impact on the world by moving wealth into the hands of people from marginalized communities (by teaching them how to build successful soap businesses!).
So, when I make an investment in my business, I am looking for mission statements, anti-racism commitments, values statements, philanthropic efforts, staff diversity, representation in marketing, and the like.
Plus, I want to learn from someone who aligns with my personality and goals. If I make an investment in my business, I'm going to be spending a lot of my time interfacing with it. I want to enjoy it when I do!
Here at Modern Soapmaking, we've had soapmakers get offended when I use a hearty well-placed "fuck" in my content. (I mean, I did accidentally use one while teaching my last seminar at an HSCG conference - lots of raised eyebrows and frowns. Oops, we can't all be perfect!)
Just like I know as an agnostic, I'm not going to fit in a program that kicks off every call with prayer and weaves biblical teachings throughout its content. Super uncomfy for everyone!
That doesn't mean that my profanity needs to take a hike or that a spiritual business coach can't infuse her programs with prayers! It simply means that the students in these programs need to be the right fit to make magic.
Check to make sure the educator or coach has the experience and expertise that aligns with your goals.
Our team at Modern Soapmaking is stuffed full with over 30 years of experience in the soap & cosmetic industry, each person on our team has run a soap company themselves (and some still do!) So, our students know that we've all been there, done that, and got the damn t-shirt.
When I invest in programs, I'm looking for educators and coaches who have achieved my goals, and who have tangible (and successful) experience working in the space I want to master!
2) Figure out what you need to be successful.
Everyone is different, and what might be right for another person might not be a good fit for you. One of the most important parts of designing programs is deciding how to format, create, and develop a curriculum so that students and clients can actually learn! And it's also an area a lot of education and support businesses fail to invest in themselves, so there are a lot of programs out there that aren't designed to optimize the retention of knowledge.
Ask yourself, "How do you like to learn?" Maybe you prefer to sit live with a teacher in person or over Zoom. Or maybe pre-recorded video lessons are the way to go. Or is picking up a book the right answer for you?
Think about previous education and investments that fell short. Why didn’t they work for you? What did you need instead?
For instance, I know that I'm not a huge fan of group programs. Group projects were the death of me in school, and I'd rather work on my own or one-on-one with a mentor. I love video content, but if there is audio, I need to see the person speaking or I lose focus. (Which means I know I can't do video content where there is audio over slides!)
Also, think about your schedule and personal needs! When I first started my business, I did everything at 2 am. But nowadays, I've set hardline boundaries around my work and personal life and my kids are all older, so I'm looking for programs I can complete during my workday.
Do you want to work at your own pace whenever you want? Do you need a live call to ask questions and interface directly with your mentor? Do you want the option to get peer support and build community via a Facebook group?
(Soapmaker to Moneymaker has all three, by the way!)
Choosing the right programs and services for you requires self-awareness. Be sure to ask yourself the tough questions about your needs to set yourself up for success!
3) Make a small investment before making a big one.
Investing in your soap business with an educational program or a membership can cost a pretty penny, and it's okay to be nervous about the cash.
Before you dive in, follow your potential mentor on social media and get on their email list. Learn for free to see if they’re a good fit for you. What are they posting about? Are you learning from their free content? Do they jive with you?
(For example, our free blog, email newsletter, and social media content are all helpful ways to see if our programs are a good fit.)
Additionally, you can also invest in a low-dollar offer to see if you enjoy the experience and like what’s being delivered. This is why we offer our Flawless AF Pricing Tool, which is your one-stop guide to sustainable pricing. It costs $17 and includes some written content, video content, and a pricing tool, so it's a good way to see if we know what we’re talking about and if you like our work.
Last but not least, it's okay to budget a big investment! Everyone starts somewhere. Check to see if the mentor you're interested in offers payment plans, grants, or scholarships. Here at Modern Soapmaking, we offer equitable payments plans where we don't charge you extra for opting to spread your payments out.
If an investment is out of reach, make a serious plan to reach it. Too often, we shortchange ourselves by saying "can't afford that" without really looking at the numbers or finding a way to make it happen. If you believe a program or membership will help you, don't bypass your needs and justify it to self-sabotage (by buying more supplies or choosing a not-quite-right but cheaper program).
4) Ask lots of questions. A lot.
Most programs have a ton of information available to sift through, so make sure to hit up the FAQ and read through it. If you don’t see what you need to know, ask!
Every potential investment should have a way to get in touch and get all your questions answered. If you can't find a way to contact the mentor in question, I'd say that's a big ‘ol red flag!
Here at Modern Soapmaking, we have a support team standing by Monday through Friday (because we practice what we preach when it comes to work/life balance of our team). Plus, you can respond to any of our emails and get a reply from a real person. You could say we’re here to answer your questions, and then some!
When you see testimonials and reviews, check to see if they seem like cherry-picking atypical results or the norm. Even though it's against the law in the United States to use the top results to mislead clients and convince them to join your education programs, it doesn't stop a lot of gurus out there!
In our marketing, we intentionally share feedback and reviews that give a typical view of our programs. While we definitely have star students who have made HUGE strides and wins in our programs, we don't want to give prospective students a deceptive idea of what it could do for them.
One of my favorite things that I do now that I learned by having it done to us by a student? Ask the mentor for negative feedback they've received or students who did not succeed after the program.
For example, in Soapmaker to Moneymaker, we've had students decide owning a soap business isn't the right move for them and we've had students quit the program because of profanity, our values (we talk about the impact of white supremacy, and patriarchy on owning a business) or our no-nonsense style of delivering information (no sugarcoating here, sorry not sorry).
Don't ever let anyone make you feel incapable or dumb for asking questions. If you want to know, ask! It can be helpful to make a list of potential things you want to know about a program before diving in, for instance:
- How is the program delivered and how long do I have access?
- Are there any live components that are schedule-dependent?
- How much of an investment am I looking at? Not just in money, but also in time and effort?
- What happens if I get sidetracked by Big Things in Life - do I start over, pick back up where I left off, or lose out?
All in all, making a big investment in your soap business can be scary, but you can’t let that fear stop you from growing your biz. (If you’re stuck, check out our article on kicking fear in the face.) Don’t keep yourself small because you’re afraid; do your research, ask questions, check-in with yourself, and then take the leap.
Want to snag weekly advice on building a successful soap biz directly in your inbox?
Of course you do! Sign up for our newsletter below for more tips and tricks to make bank in your biz.