Thursday, February 28, 2013

Still Thinking About a Business?

If you read Just Getting Started, you know we are taking a look at what to consider if you are thinking about turning that hobby into a legitimate business. By "legitimate" I mean you are going to register with the government (ugh) and pay you taxes like you should. Enough said...

I have been in marketing almost my whole life. Whether I was selling products or services for my own business (yeah, I had a marketing business...till I got cancer...I'm fine now), or working for someone else in sales and marketing, I have learned quite a few ins and outs of doing my best to "get the word out" and create awareness that can lead to sales. It's time for me to share what I have learned and will welcome comments and questions.

writingToday I want to focus on whether or not you should take your craft (artistry) to the next level, but I am going to start at the very beginning. You may already have a business on Etsy or Artfire, or even have your own website, but you may need to revisit this information before moving on.

There are several questions you have to ask yourself if you make handmade things. Some of these questions will need to be answered honestly and with a clear head. That means don't make decisions with a drink in your hand! Ok, get your tablet and pencil out and make sure you have a great eraser. If you are like me, you will change your answers more than once, and the answers will evolve as you do.
  1. Is there a demand for what I make? This is Marketing 101. You need to be serious enough about what you do to do a little research. That doesn't mean you have to write out a marketing plan or business plan, unless you want a storefront someday. Just because you sold a few pieces at work doesn't mean that you can quit your job and go into business supporting you and your three kids. Be reasonable, but be energetic. Find out how many others do what you do to try to make money. Visit some of the popular sites. Put your search info into Google or your favorite search engine. You will be surprised what you find...both positive and negative.
  2. If this project doesn't go my way in the first few months, will I quit? Be honest! How many of you have started projects in the past, only to put them down when you didn't get the pats you were looking for or you tired of the project all together in a month or two? That means you didn't really love it in the first place. If you are going to to do something to make money, you need to love the heck out of it. It's gonna be hard and it's going to be discouraging. How's your faith? From personal experience, and my family will attest to this, I have done a lot of stuff and done it "professionally." It wasn't until I found jewelry that I really hit on something I want to stick with for life. Is what you are doing now your life's love? Will you defend it?
  3. Do I want to do this to supplement my income or because I want to share what I do with the world because I want to artistically express myself? It IS a legitimate question. It ties into the other two questions I posed above. Are you tied to what you do because you love to do it (probably signifies longevity of production), or  are you looking for a quick buck? Trust me...there is nothing wrong with wanting to make money on the things we are probably going to make anyway. But a quick buck doesn't exist long term unless you are doing something illegal. I do NOT recommend that!! Everything I have done in the past, I have tried to turn into a business to make money with, much to the chagrin of my family. So, I can speak from experience, both good and bad. Think about it, though. Are you willing to do what it takes to get your product in front of the public or will you sit in a corner and cry the first time someone makes a snide comment about what you do? If the latter, get out now! You will never make it and professional counseling is reallllly expensive!
This is enough for you to think about right now. Like I said, write down how you feel about these questions? Sure, some of you may have never even considered having a business of any kind, but if you, as a consumer, think about these questions, too, you might be a little more conscious of what you say about a product the next time you walk into a booth at your local craft fair. Most likely, the person that made that product probably put their heart and soul into it.

If you are just starting out, these are questions you need to ask yourself over and over. Will I defend my craft to some one that won't even try? Am I willing to stick to the plan, even if it is just swimming around in my little pea brain? Will I see it through thick and thin, or until my spouse burns down my work area? Will I love, honor, and cherish it? Will I honor others that do what I do? That means not copying someone's work!

For those of us that have been around the business block a time or two, these are things we constantly need to think about, too. The marketplace is an ever changing beast, just like the consumers that are part of it. Styles change, need changes, etc., and we have to be willing to absorb all of that. Whether we change with it to conform or stick to our original plan will be determined by how you answered the three questions above.

Just remember, it is only complicated if we make it so. And we don't have to defeat ourselves before we start because we don't know where to start. Maybe this blog will help you along and add a little humor to what seems like an all consuming process. I will be giving you links to other resources or blogs that may answer some of your questions, as well. I will work hard to make your work a little easier.

Next time I will talk about how to start getting your name out there...basically how to start to brand yourself. It's easier than it sounds and doesn't cost much if it's done right. Really!
Hope you enjoyed this little tidbit of information. Don't forget to contact me with questions or concerns. I read 'em all! Hugs and keep up the good work!

Stay Wired Up! Gail

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just Getting Started

I have thought about starting a blog for a long time. IS time.

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of business and marketing knowledge, and since I have created a new business of my own once again, (yeah, I've had a couple before) I want to share some of that knowledge. Hopefully, this blog might inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and create a burn inside of you to dip your foot into the vast ocean of possibility. Or you could be like me and jump in with both feet.

I am the proud owner of ggChambers designs, LLC, a growing business in which I design and hand craft wire jewelry and other wire wrapped and woven items. I have a website,, am on Etsy and Artfire, and also have pages on the social media sites of Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. Oh, and I am on LinkedIn, as well. Yes, all of those keep me pretty busy, but in the end I believe it will be worth it.

These are hard times in our country, so while starting a business may be one of the last things on your mind, it may still be a nagging desire that rears its head and swims around your brain from time to time. Don't worry. I'm not going to convince you that you "need" to start your own business. What I want to do is give you enough pertinent information so you can make a decision for yourself as to whether or not you're ready or even willing.

One of the saddest things I hear over and over is that people have tried to do what I do, but they just couldn't make any money at it, so they quit. Not only did some of them quit, the experience made them bitter about trying at all. It isn't always about the money, honey!

I consider myself lucky that I, too, have failed at business more than once. If I told you how many times I started a business and failed, you would probably wonder why you were even reading this! Okay, I will tell you anyway. I have had at least three Sole Proprietorships (I really have lost count), one S-Corporation, and now an LLC. To be honest with you, I am not really sure why I persist, except I can't seem to quit trying. The experiences have, however, provided me with so much information that I truly believe this is my time. It could be yours, too.

Another reason I keep at it is that I really really enjoy it. I enjoy talking to people. I enjoy the creativity aspect. And I enjoy the responsibility that comes with having a business. Being honest again, a business of your own can be a real pain in the butt at times. Ask anyone that has one. You put in tons of hours ( I sometimes work 12 to 14 hours a day or more.), you usually work alone (this can be good for you or make you crazy), and you lose some friends cause you just don't have time for them like you used to. Other than that, it's a piece of cake.

Oh, and you have control. You get to decide how you do business, how big or small it is, if you have employees or not, a storefront or not, network with others or not...You get the picture. For those of us that have control issues, having a business can be just the outlet for your addiction that you need.

Next post I will start at the beginning and ask you to ask yourself a few questions that will help you decide if you should be in business with your craft or keep it at the  hobby level. I am most definitely not a know-it-all, so if you have some input on a subject or a question, please feel free to post a comment. I will read them all.

Thanks for reading! Stay wired up! Gail