Since Instagram came on the social media scene back in 2010, many families have begun using this app to put their businesses on the map.
These small businesses are usually run by women who have families and have a particular talent in some manual craft that easily attracts consumers. While many might consider it to be nothing more than a hobby, in reality, it can generate an income.
This income is typically additional to other monthly salaries, giving families the little extra boost they might need to make ends meet.
Opening a family business on Instagram is relatively easy
The advantage of this social network—where what matters most is quality photography—is that it doesn’t require a lot of knowledge about starting a business. The essentials are: having a good number of followers, securing a couple of suppliers for raw materials, and carefully curating posts that best showcase the product.
Though the business owner might be running a public personal account, many profiles end up becoming professional accounts thanks to all the marketing tools designed for small and medium-sized businesses.
Another advantage of this business model is that there’s no need to rent a stockroom, saving the vendor from rental fees. In most cases, the "workshop" is in one’s own home. It’s a space designated specifically to their craft.
This kind of work allows parents to reconcile their job with childcare, since office hours can be based on when children are in school.
And there’s yet another advantage to this sort of work: selling on demand doesn’t require keeping backstock, so you save money by not renting a storage space and having excess unsold product.
There’s also no risk of a customer not paying, since you have to pay for the product before placing the order.
Many entrepreneurs open these Instagram pages for their businesses so that they can run their own business by their own rules and regulations. But just like anything in the digital realm, there are also several drawbacks that should be taken into consideration.
Almost total dependence on network signals makes these types of businesses more vulnerable
Like all jobs that rely on the internet, this sort of work depends almost totally on having a stable network signal—so much so that if there is a blackout or disconnection, the business stops working. Blackouts are highly unlikely but not completely impossible, as evidenced by the last blackout of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp on October 4, 2021. A failed signal or disconnection depends on simpler factors.
Another negative factor to consider in starting up an online family business is shipping problems.
Products can get lost or damaged en route to clients. That’s why it’s wise to develop a return policy for clients, ensuring their future business.
Other issues with working from home are the distractions and complexity of having an office open 24/7. To resolve any setbacks, you will need to create a schedule and designate a space for doing your work where you aren’t likely to get up and do other things.
Sometimes what started out as a hobby, ends up becoming boring because of the compulsory nature that the hobby acquires over time. This happens often with this sort of work, and it’s helpful to discern what you’re capable of handling, without feeling burdened or stressed by your work.
Finally, the main disadvantage is the total loss of physical contact between the buyer and the product and between the seller and the client. Going digital depersonalizes buying and selling, making it lack personal warmth.
The best formula for being successful with a family business on the web
After seeing the increase of family businesses on Instagram, with its advantages and disadvantages, we will have to wait for the inexorable judgment of time—to see which ones survive—and why—in this competitive and aggressive environment.
It seems that the winning formula to succeed in this type of business is the sum of talent + service to others + compensation. In other words: doing what you are good at and enjoy, offering something to others, trying to differentiate yourself from the competition, and getting an income for it.