Recession Proof-How to be an Innovator

As a response to the current echo I keep hearing in the online handmade community “where have all my customers gone?” I decided to start a series called Recession Proof with ideas on how to rise above the falling sales. The first installment is How to be an innovator….

1. Fill a Need
When you decide to sell a product or service, many times it is to fulfill your need to create not to fill a need for a customer base. That sort of business is better defined as a hobby. It is only when you go one step further and seek out a real need that others have that you become a true business person. Want to go another step further? Look for a need that is not currently being filled OR that is being filled poorly. A good way to determine this is by researching your competitors. What types of goods / services are they offering? Who is their typical customer? (age, gender, lifestyle, etc.). What you want to look for are holes. You may notice that most of your competitors sell items that are following the same trend atheistically or target only one segment of the population. An innovator looks to the opposite and asks “what does everyone else who is not being targeted need?” Then she creates it.

2. Cater to Individuality
People who buy art value individuality. If you can create a new way to allow these art loving people to assert their individuality, you’ll really be on to something. Where to begin you ask? Look for items that are commonly designed to be plain or uniform and offer a “pretty” version. Granted this is no easy task, but for those who find these needles in the proverbial haystack there is usually a pot of gold waiting for them in the haystack as well.

3. Offer a solution

“Boy I hate it when I can’t….” or “I sure wish there was an easier way...” An innovator is always LISTENING! They listen to their friends, family, neighbors, customers and themselves. When someone complains of a difficult task or an item with flaws the innovator asks herself “can I make this easier?” or “can I solve this problem?” Customers are almost always willing to pay for convenience. It is why people will pay $2 more for sliced pineapple than buying a whole one. It’s just easier!

4. Avoid Trends
An innovator does not jump on the bandwagon, no matter how temping it may be. “Trend” should have a negative connotation because it implies that the market for that item is currently saturated with sellers; and that means you will have to move mountains to get noticed. What you should be looking for is the next big trend. Generally speaking, this is a combination of timing and instinct. To identify what could be the next trend, you must look backwards. Go back 2 years and look at the direction your product or service has been going in. Look for any culturally significant movies or events that might influence demand.

The point is, you should be taking a long hard look at what is happening in the world around you and what has happened in your industry and use that knowledge to look into your crystal ball. Just remember, drawing inspiration from and stealing are two very different things. Don’t commit copyright infringement. There are always consequences for that.

I wanted to also include a great example of a company who is putting all of the above into their product. It is called “Casttoos” and the concept is that you can decorate your casts with tattoo like imagery. Does it fill a need? YES. Does it cater to individuality? YES! Does it offer a solution to drawing on your cast? YES! Is it a copy of a trend? NO! To read more or order a Casttoo, go to

Image from Entrepreneur magazine


  1. What inspiring ideas! Thanks! :-)

  2. Great! Love the Casttoos idea!!! Thanks for a really informational blog!

  3. Fantastic post! Lots to consider here. This may be the boost I've been needing. Thank you so much!