Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Business Chat - You are a business owner

When I began my jewelry making career I had a folding table in our tiny spare bedroom. I made beads at a cooperative studio, brought them home, read books, looked at websites, and learnt how to string, wire wrap and design. I had my “office” in an accordion file, my “booth” tucked behind the washing machine in the basement and my entire inventory in a shoebox. To put it politely, it was one tiny little business.

We all start this way, little wee businesses that we squeeze into whatever space we have, using whatever time we can squeeze out of our busy lives.

No matter how small the studio space, or the amount of time you can devote, or the sales, your business has a big vision and you must treat it as a big venture. That vision is success on the level that you have defined.
People will only take you as seriously as you take yourself.

Your business goals may be modest, say $4000 sales a year. That still qualifies you as having a real business and it deserves to be treated with respect.  

Imagine being at a party, and you’re talking to a new acquaintance who’s wearing a great necklace. When you ask her about it, she squirms a bit and says, “Well, um, I’m a part-time teacher, but I make jewelry as well.” Yawn. Are you going to ask her about the jewelry? She doesn’t seem to care, why would you?

If you call yourself a hobbyist you will be treated as one. Call yourself a business person. Call yourself a professional. Stand tall and call yourself an artist.

No one knows that your studio is in a closet. No one knows that you are self-taught and that is irrelevant anyways. No one knows that you only sell at one tiny craft show a year. People only know what you tell them. Be confident and tell them what you are.

You own a business. You are a professional. You are an artist/artisan/crafter.

Go ahead, say it out loud. I dare you. 
"I am a ____." 

Ps. I have noticed that those who treat themselves with respect and act professionally are less likely to get hassled on the price of their work. Confidence commands respect.

Pps. I hate term home-based business or cottage industry for exactly this reason. It doesn’t sound serious. Try telling a banker you have a home-based business and watch their eyes glaze over. You can hear the condescending “oh isn’t that nice” before they even open their mouth. Even when I worked out of my spare room I had a micro-business, not a home-based business. 

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