Monday, May 23, 2011

Crafting, Quilting, Embroidery and Sewing - your business or hobby?

I teach locally in the Atlanta area on a weekly basis, and I meet all kinds of students. 
  1. Customers that  take classes for sheer enjoyment and I delight in their enthusiasm and wild abandonment.  
  2. Those customers who want to start and grow a business from their hobby with whom I offer guidance on how to build their design collections based on their chosen niche and point them to professionals for additional business guidance.
  3.  Students that feel pressure to turn their hobby into a business due to the words of family and friends but are not that enthusiastic about the idea.  (How do I know they are not?  I watch them for years transitioning at the "start up" point feeling overwhelmed.  I know they possess the skills and talents but perhaps it's the idea of a business that they are not passionate about. )
  • With all the technology in the sewing industry, people from all walks of life are finding interest in quilting, embroidery, and sewing.  
  • With all the burnout and layoffs in corporate america, people from all walks of life are looking at their hobbies to earn the missing income they once generated.

Who stands the better chance of success?  The one with the amazing sewing/crafting talents?  or the one with the corporate background learning new sewing/crafting skills?    
It can actually works both ways but not without a detailed business plan.  The business plan must incorporate the structure and business strategy as well as the skills and talent needed for the actual business.
But with this said, often it is the person learning a new hobby with a business background that moves ahead more successfully.  Why is that?  
Hobby passion can sometimes get in the way of good business judgement. You must be passionate about learning all there is to know for making a business succeed as well.
You need to have a realistic plan, the strategy for best achieving your goals, research outside of friends and family, and the necessary compliances taken care of from the onset.  Not just the business license and filling out the appropriate tax forms and wholesale paperwork but what do you plan to do with them?  Not just the budget of how many dollars you have to start with, but where will you spend them?  Research, marketing and constant planning of the next product is as necessary as excellent book keeping to keep tabs on the health of your business.
Mom constantly said,  "Time is money, look at the clock!" , "Plan ahead, for you never know what the future brings", and "No one can ever take your education away from you, just remember to use it."
How does this all relate?  
You need a business plan, market analysis, budget, strategy, for the "business of doing business" as well as for the creative end, and timing is everything.  And this is where the former corporate entrepreneur excels and where the hobbyist may fail in starting a business. 
I understand how this happens...  truly! If you haven't done the above, stop and regroup.  Painful as it may be.  I understand, truly! 
Good news: Most states (and the Federal Government) offer support to entrepreneurs which is often FREE on how to start and grow your business. Step by step construction of a business plan is the best help you can get. 
Your time has value.  Are you giving away your talents under the title of business?  Are you afraid to find out?  Put a pencil to it, look at the situation and then if the answer is yes, run to the experts and change it. 
If you love what you do, and making money is not the ultimate goal, then you have a hobby.  That is great and stand firm so you can enjoy it.  Don't let others exert pressure for you to make income as a way to rationalize why you so much fun stuff.  Hobbies are wonderful, and you need not defend them.
I understand, truly! And that is why I knit and own tons of yarn - that I may or may not use.  Besides I delight in the emotions it stirs in my practical friends who have big plans for me!  I consider this, my creative outlet on many levels!

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