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How to Use Your Soapmaking Skills for Soap Business Success

starting a soap business

When you’re running a small soap biz, you wear a lot of hats. You’re the CEO, the dishwasher, the marketing team, the customer service rep, the production manager…and about 500 other things. It’s a lot. Like a LOT a lot. 

Plus, many soap business owners started out as hobby soapmakers and have had to pick up small business skills along the way. “ROI what? I can’t just make whatever I want whenever I want?” It can be a bit of a rude awakening to learn that buying more fragrance oils and making even more soap doesn’t actually equal more profit. (In fact, usually the opposite.

Wouldn’t it be great if your foundational soapmaking skills could translate to helping you manage the never-ending tasks of your small business?

Spoiler Alert: they can! Turns out that a lot of the skills that you learned while creating beautiful handmade soap perfection can translate to running your soap company. Read on for our top 4 soap-making skills that lead to soap business success.

The entire Modern Soapmaking team has owned a soap biz at some point or another, and guess what? We use all of these soapmaking skills in our work bringing you top-notch handmade soap business coaching and education. We put this all into practice daily, so we know what we’re talking about. Here are the team’s top four ways we use handmade soap skills every day:

1) Masterbatching

You already know that streamlining your production is one of the best ways to reduce the bottom line. Time is money, friend. But! Did you know that you can apply this strategy to other aspects of your handmade soap company?

By batching similar tasks, or prepping content or templates ahead of when you need them, you can save so much more time than doing each task individually as it comes up. (Sound familiar?)

For example, you can masterbatch all of your content creation by picking out a time to knock out a month of newsletters, blog posts, or social media posts at once instead of writing on the fly. ⁠No more daily “ugh, what do I post NOW?” paralyzed feeling. You already wrote it and scheduled it to auto-post three weeks ago. Score!

(Need some help coming up with your content? Check out our monthly Marketing Hub subscription where we deliver tips and tricks for marketing success alongside daily content prompts! No more brainstorming!)

One masterbatching strategy that we employ at Modern Soapmaking is in how we manage our email. We’ve got reply templates for common questions that come into our inbox that we personalize before hitting send. 

Using a template for common questions like changing your password or how to navigate your account⁠ saves us a lot of time. That way when we get highly personalized questions about making a big decision in your handmade soap business or running into pricing problem, we can give you our full time and attention!

Other areas of your biz to masterbatch can be finances or ordering supplies. Pick one day a week/month to complete all of your bookkeeping or order all of the ingredients that you need for next quarter. Your masterbatching options are endless, and you’ll be shocked by how much time you save.

2) Curing

You wouldn’t unmold your soap and expect it to be ready to sell the next day, right? And yet, so many soap company owners feel like they need to have everything perfect right out of the gate or they’re failing. Nuh-uh. That’s not how this works.

You have to be patient with yourself. You’re not going to be able to learn every aspect of owning a soap business at once. It’s literally impossible to master a dozen different specialties at the same time - like bookkeeping and marketing and web design - so why are you asking that of yourself?

Just like you need to wait for your soap to cure to be at its best, you need to give yourself time to grow. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all, and your small biz won’t be either. And that’s normal!

So the next time you feel like you’re a failure because you found a huge gap in your knowledge, stop. Take a deep breath. And remind yourself that you’re on the curing rack, working to become your best self.

3) Trace

Achieving the perfect trace for your soap design is an art. To feel exactly when it reaches the right thickness to create complicated swirls, pour clean layers, or get that perfectly textured top takes lots of practice and experience. You need to perfect your recipe and process to give you plenty of time and not race off to acceleration land.

Guess what? Your small biz is the same way. You need to take things one step at a time and not get ahead of yourself. First things first. There’s no point in figuring out Facebook Ads before you have a website to direct them to. You can’t design a logo before you’ve figured out your brand identity. And you definitely can’t sell a single bar of soap before you get insurance

When you’re starting your soap business, it’s tempting to skip ahead to the fun parts. Make lots of soap and make some money! But you’ll burn out quickly (or rice, if we’re continuing the metaphor) if you haven’t put a solid foundation in place. If you haven’t identified your target market, or set up your finances, or figured out your true costs and priced your products appropriately, you’re setting yourself up for a rough time in biz.

So start at the beginning, and no skipping ahead! (If you need some help setting up your handmade soap biz solidly from the beginning, Soapmaker to Moneymaker will walk you through it step by step.)

4) Testing Fragrances

I’m going to make 40 pounds of soap with this brand new, untested fragrance oil!” said no soapmaker ever. 

For real though; you test all of your new fragrances in teeny batches before you move to full-scale production, right? And some of them are going to work out great, and some will cause your batter to seize into a solid block of unpourable concrete. You have no way of knowing how a fragrance will react with your recipe before you give it a try.

It’s the exact same way in your biz. You have no idea if something will succeed or not until you try it. Will this product be loved by your customers? Will this marketing strategy work out? You can make some educated guesses (yeah, a children’s clothing store is probably not a good stockist fit for your profanity branded bars soap), but for most of it? You won’t know until you put it into play and see what happens.

Small business is all about trial and error. No one can predict with absolute certainty what will succeed. And what works great for other soapmakers might not work for you. Some soapers can use geranium essential oil and manage some pretty swirls, and some soapers get a soap volcano. 

Your soap biz bestie might be killing it at farmer's markets, while you get a lot of “oh, but it’s too pretty to use” comments and no sales. You need to keep experimenting until you find out where your ideal customers are hanging out.

You’re never going to have everything all figured out at once. The nature of business is to keep changing, learning, and growing. So masterbatch your tasks, remind yourself that you’re still curing, don’t accelerate your trace, and keep testing your strategies! 

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