I shouldn't really be calling it “my etsy shop” anymore, since I'm selling offline & on Facebook too now. I think a lot of these can be applied to any product-based business venture. Take what you can & leave the rest, as usual!
1. MONEY. Supplies, packaging, shipping, design, these things all cost money and lots of it. Do your research and figure out what your startup costs should be, and add at least 50% to that because unexpected things WILL come up. Save money, raise money, and have another source of income at first so you can eat because most of these handmade businesses do not actually MAKE any money in the first year. And from what I've learned from other entrepreneurs, just breaking even in the second is something to be proud of.
2. Don't worry so much about your “competition.” As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't really exist. Just create products you can be proud of and don't compare yourself to others. Keep the focus on you and your business, be unique, be genuine and don't try to BE another business just because they are successful. Successful businesses are those that offer unique services and products.
3. Spend more time creating products than you do reading about business, etsy, social networking, etc. There's SO much useful information on the internet and it's good to read that stuff when you're preparing to start your business and keep up to date with your industry and all that. But it's also really easy to get sucked in. Again, focus on YOUR products and your business and just keep creating. (I'm bad at this.)
4. Do something you would do for free. I love making perfume & body butter & scrubs & everything so much that I would still be doing it even if I didn't have this business. Creating a business out of something you LOVE to do is so important because you will never run out of ideas and–get ready for a shocker– it's just so much more fun!
5. “Do what you love & you'll never work another day in your life” is BS. But that's okay. Someday, you'll be able to outsource all of the disgusting number related tasks and whatnot but when you first start out, you will probably have to do some things related to your business that are absolutely work. Dreadful work. Taxes, licencing, testing, some of it really isn't fun. But it's okay. Get through it by maintaining a positive attitude and remember what you're working toward.
Business owners! What would you add to this list?