Part 1 – Could you be an entrepreneur?
You’ve been quilting for a while, you make gifts for friends and family, people admire your quilts, cushions and other makes and then someone mutters the immortal words ‘you really ought to start selling those’.
You probably brush it off, make an excuse as to why you don’t want to. But once the idea is there in your brain you start to think it over, could you sell your creations? Could you turn your hobby into a business? Sure the extra money would be nice, more money = more fabric after all! But can you handle the business side of it? Is there too much competition? Is it even financially viable?
Well in this series I’m going to help you work through that idea to see if it is viable, and the right decision for you.
Before jumping into the financial and practical side of things there’s one important thing that many people overlook. It takes a certain type of person to be able to run their own business, to be able to stick to budgets, to be prepared to put their work out there and market it to the world, to keep on top of the admin and wrap your head around the finances and most of all to cope with being an entrepreneur.
I’ve identified a few characteristics I think are essential to entrepreneurs. Do you have them?
Passion - This is the most important thing, you should love what you do. This is what will get you through the tough times. Plus your passion will come across to your customers and make them more interested in being involved with you. You need passion to sell, and selling is something you have to do if you want to make money.
Organisation - There is a lot to co-ordinate from buying in supplies to setting up a website, doing the admin to managing your accounts. You need to be able to structure your working week to make sure you keep on top of all of the ‘boring’ aspects of running a business like the accounts and admin as well as spending time doing the things you love.
Willing - Willing to try almost anything, there are many things you have no experience in that you just have to try when you are self-employed. Particularly if you are a one man company, you cannot delegate the daunting tasks to other people so you have to take them on yourself. Some things like accounts, sales, marketing or admin can be delegated out to other people but it will reduce your profit when you are paying someone else to do them.
Positivity - Quite often people are investing in you as a person and not just your product. If you are positive and friendly people will want to work with you or buy from you. Furthermore there will be many days where things do not go the way you intended. You will come across all kinds of obstacles that you never envisaged when starting out. You have to be able to pick yourself up and get on with it and not become demotivated and give up.
Adaptability - If you can respond quickly and are willing to adapt your business plan to suit demand you can keep on top of current trends, customer demands and industry changes. It is also an advantage we small businesses have over larger businesses. Often their corporate structure means that it takes time for changes to be implemented where as we can do it straight away and be ahead of the game.
Honesty - Trust has to be earned over time and if you are true to your word your reputation for being trustworthy will spread. Equally in this internet age a bad reputation spreads even faster and it can be very hard to win trust back once lost.
Drive - It is your energy and drive that will help determine the success of your business. You need to be prepared to work 7 days a week if necessary, to be working past midnight to fulfil an urgent order or forgo a day out to catch up on work. There will be sacrifices to be made, especially at the beginning but the plan is that in the long term it will all pay off. Does that sound like you? Are you motivated and positive enough to keep going through tough times? Can you sacrifice sewing time to do admin? Do you have the drive and passion to promote what you make? Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone?
Posts two and three in this series will be published Friday 16 January and Monday 19 January so stay tuned.