So you started your business on the kitchen table or in the garden shed, selling online or at the occasional fair.
Then you started to sell more, perhaps you got an order from a retailer, so you needed to make more and come up with new ideas. But with more sales and more stock came more admin and more items to photograph and more photographs to edit and upload.
Your jewellery business is a success but you’ve given up sleep.
This may sound extreme or a bit negative but it is a common experience for people who start their own businesses. It can be difficult to balance business growth with what it is sensible for you to put into it yourself.
This is where revising your business plan comes in. It is good practice to revise your business plan on a regular basis to keep on track but it is especially important if there has been a lot of change or growth in your business. What you had previously earmarked as a strength or weakness or a priority may now not seem the same. Taking the time to review every aspect of your business will help put it into perspective.
Some of the things you should think about are:
What are all the tasks that need to be done for your business? Making, photography, selling, uploading to website, post and packaging, press and marketing, book-keeping, social media etc.
Analyse your strengths and weakness against that list. Think about yourself and the tasks in two ways. Firstly, what are you good at and what is a struggle or you think someone else could do better? And then what is important/valuable for you to do for your business? This second list will include things you see as a strength such as creating new designs but you might also decide that it is important for you to do social media so the business has your “voice” even though it can feel a struggle. Comparing these two list will help you identify areas you might think about paying for help in.
Consider your finances. If you run your business alongside a a salaried job, is it possible/affordable to reduce the hours you do in that job? If you free up your time from certain tasks can you make more money for the business and therefore how much money do you have to spend on help?
Are there any other resources you have in the business that could be used better?
Once you have worked out the areas where you might benefit from help and what your budget for help is you can think about where you might get that help:
Family members You might have a digital whizz of a teenager who will update your website much faster than you ever can or someone who will do your books for you each month. This is great as long as you are fair and it doesn’t become an imposition.
Outsourcing Do you need to make every piece you sell yourself? For example, if you work in metal an you have some pieces cast? Would using a bookkeeping service or outsourcing your photography allow you to make enough new pieces to cover the cost and make money for you? There are lots of services you could use to outsource particular pieces of work. Look out for our second post today on Five ways to cut your business costs for more details of this.
Interns There may be a student who would like to learn more about a jewellery business who may been willing to help you in exchange for the chance to learn. They might be someone who can help you make pieces or someone with sales or marketing skills. This is a two-way relationship and shouldn’t exploit the intern. Be very clear about what is on offer to the the intern – expenses, training, etc – and what you need them to do. Also agree a time period for the internship. Letting your business becoming reliant on a person working for free is not a good idea.
Take on staff Whether you employ someone on a casual/freelance basis from time to time or take on an employee (including part-timers) you need to make sure you do it legally. With freelance staff you need to make sure they invoice you correctly and that you keep detailed records – there are rules about the nature of work that can be done on a freelance basis. If you are employing some directly there are several legal requirements such as paying the minimum wage and tax, and having employers’ liability insurance. You can find a guide to this on the Gov.UK website.
The right solution will depend on your jewellery business and it will mean change, but change is part of growing your business.
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