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This Crafty Business ~ How to make the Jump!

09 Feb

So, what does it really take to decide to make the jump?

A few weeks ago, I ran several Open Craft Nights which was a chance for me to catch up with folks who I hadn’t seen in a while but also to meet new people.  One of the ladies whom I met for the first time was a lady we shall call Lady D, who as it turns out, had read my last posting for This Crafty Business about filing your taxes. She left a comment on my posting, of which I have taken a bit from, the bit, that when we met, Lady D, wanted to speak to me about in the flesh (so to speak).

‘This is definitely one area which stops me even considering a business; although truth be told, there’s probably the slight issue of what area I would choose to create a business around too. I shouldn’t let that stop me though as creating barriers to progress isn’t productive.’ ….

Lady D said, stuck filling in a tax return wasn’t the issue deciding to make the jump was the problem.  She admitted that when she thought about making the jump she got a bit overwhelmed with the big picture of what that entails….so in usual Maeri style, I told her I would make it my next post so that, if anyone else out there is mulling over whether a career in crafting might be for you, then please read on…..

(To see more information about Maeri’s Open Craft Nights visit: (http://themakeanddostudio.typepad.com/the_make_and_do_studio/make-and-do-open-craft-night.html)

But reading this comes with a WARNING – this is not for the faint hearted and this is for someone that wants to make it a business and not a hobby.  I have no problems with crafting as a hobby but making it a business means, well, you need to be business minded. And it also assumes that you know what you want to do for a crafting career or at least have an idea (and by the way, you will not be surprised to find that sometimes what you start out thinking you want to do and what you actually end up doing are not the same!)

Do a skills, traits and abilities self-assessment – never mind that you want to have a craft business, do you have the appropriate skills to work independently and most likely from a small room in your home? Can you see yourself being self-disciplined enough to work on your own?  Being in business for yourself means that, in the beginning, you have to carry the whole load and some people won’t want to have all that responsibility.  If you own a jewellery making business, how good are you at keeping track of your stock? If you are a painter, can you keep track of what your materials cost so that when you price up a painting, you know the price is reflective of the amount of paint actually on the canvas?

Once you start to gain momentum, then you can perhaps outsource some of the things you like less or find don’t come naturally and that is a great goal to work for, but you still need to know that at the end of the day, you are okay with what “going it alone” entails.

When I first thought about Make and Do, I really wanted to sell fabric as well as offer workshops. I had convinced myself this was a great move, think of all the lovely fabric! I even met with the wholesalers who told me the vast quantities I was going to have to order and then keep track of in order to sell on.  But then I thought “wait a minute, keeping track of stock means I need to be quite detail oriented and ummm, that really isn’t me”. So that decision was made for me.

Speak to the captain to see if he/she is on board

You may be lucky enough to make the decision to change to a crafting career without having to discuss with anyone else whether it is an option or not. But I am speaking to those of you who need to think about how working from home on your new venture will impact your home life, your partner (or parents) might not be thrilled at the idea of having people coming in and out of your home for dress fittings in the room that was once his “man cave” (their living room)!  But if you can sit down and discuss the actual semantics of what your working from home might look like, will it involve weekends at craft fairs, does the responsibility of the children and their needs have to shift a bit, will the house need to be re-jigged around to make space for the new venture, you have a much better chance of making the business a success, rather than a source of arguments.

A few more factors to consider –

There are a few more things that I would also factor in once you have managed to work your way through the two areas mentioned above:

  • How likely is it that the business will be profitable?  You need to research your potential career change to see if it is even viable. Google is a wonderful tool for each sector of crafts, there are bulletin boards to join and blogs to read to help you get an “on the ground” look at the different sectors.
  • What is the competition? Do research on what the competition has to offer and look at how, what you will do will be ….different/better!
  • Is there a need for the product/service I want to offer? Do you really think your recipe for ‘fried moon rocks’ will be the next big thing in baking?  I would do a bit of research first…..
  • Am I ready to make a commitment to the business? It is a commitment that is much like a child, in the beginning it is a lot of work for not much return but as your business grows and matures, you will hopefully reap the benefits. But you have to be in it for the long run!

I think that is enough for people to consider for this instalment… the next post will involve more specific information on how to set up your accounts (okay, not interesting but very necessary!), register as self employed, getting insurance, the magic formula for pricing and some basic marketing tips, so I hope you join me next time.

As always all comments, feedback and questions are very welcome.

Thanks

Maeri

Want to keep up with what is going on in the Studio? Check out our blog at. www.themakeanddostudio.co.uk, find us on Facebook and on Twitter!

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4 Comments

Posted by on February 9, 2012 in This Crafty Business

 

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4 responses to “This Crafty Business ~ How to make the Jump!

  1. Fiona

    February 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Very useful post, the biggest thing I wish I had known before ‘making the jump’ was how the business will occupy every second of your life for the first couple of years. You really need to have a lot of dedication and motivation to get through working every weekend, staying up late to get things done before the morning and pretty much abandoning your social life! But once you get through the first year or so you start to reap the benefits of all the work you put in and can start to cut back a bit whilst still keeping the same income coming in.

    It’s a sharp learning curve but I wouldn’t change it. The benefits way outweigh the downsides for me. Just be prepared to work harder than you ever have before.

     
  2. Penny

    February 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Thanks so much for this. I have run a small business for a few years now, with very little official advice (enough so that everything is up to date with the tax man!). I have learnt as I go along. It’s always interesting and very motivational to get some tips along the way.

    Penny,
    Penny Jane Designs

     
  3. Diane

    February 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Wow, I was just about to comment on the article and how it’s about time some real, down to earth, practical advice was handed out. What you choose to sell is unimportant really and could well change several times during the course of your business’s life. This is what is needed – the TRUTH. Anyway, I was about to thank Maeri so much for such an open approach to how to approach setting up in business (boy that still sounds scary), when I read Fiona’s comment. You too Fiona have been there and done that and reading from people like you is invaluable. I don’t want the fluffy, airy fairy ‘isn’t it all wonderful’ approach, I want that honest, realistic approach. This way, as and when I actually sell anything, I’ll know that I’m not alone in the mad, hectic, sometimes stressful world of fulfilling customer’s requests.
    I’m completely buzzing as I also got my first copy of Craftseller magazine today.
    Thanks so much ladies. You’re a valuable resource.

     
  4. Maeri

    February 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I agree it can be scary to go at it on your own but I feel so strongly that if we all shared our experiences, many more people would succeed than fail. I know that it has been much harder in many respects than I had thought – mostly balancing home needs with work needs and when you work from home – guess what, they cross over! But when things start to work – and
    like Fiona it has been about sixteen months and suddenly my workshops are full and I have loads of new ideas ready to go – you really do see why all the hard work was worth it. Word of warning though – don’t think that when things start to get successful, you will be less busy…..quite the opposite in fact!

     

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