Fiona Pullen, author of Craft a Creative Business, runs the UK-based The Sewing Directory. She gave us some excellent ideas for How to Cope with the Sense of Isolation When Working from Home earlier this year, and now she’s back to get you thinking about whether you are ready to run your own business and if you have what it takes to succeed.
We really enjoy looking at the intersection of selling creative work and small business growth. If you’re wrestling with questions about starting a small business– and about living a creative, fulfilling and profitable work life– we have lots of resources at Sew Mama Sew. Here are just a couple of recent favorite, related posts:
- Let’s Talk About This: Do What You Love And the Money Will Follow
- The Balancing Act of Putting a Price on Handmade
What do you think? Did we miss any important considerations? Have you wrestled with some of these same questions? Have you found answers that work for you?
Many people who craft for a hobby at some time consider whether they should do it as a business. It’s tempting to dream romanticized ideas of sewing all day and making lots of money at the same time.
However, the harsh reality is that you can often end up spending more time on the “business” side of things and less on the creative. Plus even when you are crafting you may be making the same item over and over again, sewing to a pressurized deadline or making it to a customer’s specification which may not be your style at all. Not quite the relaxing “sew whatever you want whenever you want”-kind of sewing you are used to.
Do you possess the character traits that will help you be successful in your new, small business? What characteristics do you think are important for an entrepreneur? Please add your own thoughts in the comments below!
Self-Motivation: You will be your own boss so there is no one else to tell you what to do and when to do it. You have to be able to keep on top of your workload and deliver things when you promised to deliver them, to be able to keep yourself going even when you are having an off day. Repeatedly letting people down will lead to you quickly going out of business.
Organization: There is a lot to coordinate, from buying supplies to setting up a website, from doing the administrative tasks to managing your accounts. You need to structure your work 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: Are you willing to try almost anything? There are many things you may have no experience in that you just have to try when you are self-employed. There is a wealth of information available online to help support you, and several good books too. You have to make sure you don’t get daunted and feel unable to tackle something, but that instead you learn all you can about it and give it a go.
Positivity/Resilience: 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. Plus there are bound to be times when things do not go the way you intended. You will come across all kinds of obstacles that you never envisaged when starting out. You need to be able to overcome hurdles and keep going not giving up at the first sign of struggle.
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 one big advantage we small businesses have over larger businesses, so make the most of it!
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 may need to work seven days a week if necessary, and to be working past midnight to fulfill 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.
Equally you don’t want to run yourself into the ground by working constantly; this is where to organization skills from earlier come into play. You need to organize your work in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you, and be prepared to say no if you are too busy for more work.
Passion: Most of all you should love what you do. Then you will not mind the late nights, the paperwork or the lack of free time because it will not feel like a job but like fun. Plus your passion will come across to your customers and make them more interested in being involved with you. It is quite easy to tell when someone is not passionate about what they are doing and it can be a big turn off to customers.
Of course it’s not to say that working for yourself is all hard work and no play. There are huge benefits to running your own business, not least being able to put fabric purchases through your expenses!
You can structure your time to suit you to work around children, hobbies or any other responsibilities or activities you want to fit in. You will spend a lot of time doing something you love, and ultimately you choose what you do and what you don’t do. Often you will be able to work from home, so there is no commute to contend with and if you want you can work in your pajamas all day! Plus you have the added bonus of not having someone bossing you around; you can structure your day, and your workload, to suit you and not always someone else.
I find the vast freedom of working for myself so amazing that I can never imagine working for someone else again. Yes it is hard, but it is rewarding in ways you can never imagine until you do it yourself. If you have the character traits above that will keep you focused, motivated and organized there is no reason why you can’t build your own creative business too.
Fiona Pullen is the owner of The Sewing Directory, a directory of UK sewing businesses plus sewing projects, techniques, competitions, interviews and news. She is also the author of Craft a Creative Business, published by Search Press. You can find more free business guides on her website.
Image Credits: Death to the Stock Photo