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Corporate America, meet small business

I am actively seeking a job, but with the state of our economy I haven't even heard back on a single application. Only one company even acknowledged that I applied! The rest were just thank you pages on the web site.

Last week, I started thinking about what I could do if this turned into a long-term unemployment. I mean, the first time Scott was unemployed, it was for a year when the kids were babies. This last year, he was out for nine months. We have NO savings left. No credit left either.

I made a decision to not sit around waiting for another IT/Corporate job and instead try to make money doing things I enjoy. I'm putting a lot into it and this way, I wouldn't be desperate to get a job and end up somewhere I wasn't happy.

Here is my plan and why nobody has seen me lately. It's a bit scattershot right now and needs to be narrowed in scope, but I think it all ties in nicely. We'll see what works best.

- The jewelry I have already designed will be for sale, but I will only make other custom pieces if asked. Instead, I will focus on 'home' items, such as fan pulls and bookmarks. I'm even making a beaded pull for a friend to replace the cord on the pull-down door to her attic.

- I am looking into teaching jewelry classes at one of the local craft shops. You get a discount on supplies and you keep 100% of the fees for your classes. The store gives you the classroom space, they market it in their store class schedules and on their web site, and you set the time, days and price for the classes. If I set up a kit to make a bracelet and a fan pull, do a 2-week course for $60 per person, or break that into two types of one-night classes for $40 per person.

- Next week I am going to a party with the Southern Living At Home consultant I've used in the past. Gail Pittman will be there to talk about her designs and I can take some of the stuff of hers I own to get it signed. YAY! On a side note, Gina (the consultant) and I will be talking about me becoming a consultant. I wouldn't have this as my only source of income, but I think it would fit nicely with my goal of 'home decoration items'. It, like the classes, would allow flexibility in my schedule for my family and my health.

- Finally, I've started painting again and have two things on the burner. The first is a friend who is starting a dog-related business wants me to design her logo and also create products for the company. These are things like raised feeding stations, leash holders, yard signs, collars, etc. The second is to go along with my decorative sales. I have been creating for years things that I recently realized I should expand on. I've always made custom painted outlet covers and switchplates for any room I redecorate. Now I am adding tissue box covers, storage units, vases, serving trays, murals and other items. I made zebra strip covers for the daughter of a friend, and her other daughter wanted me to make some for her. I'll be making the outlet and lightswitch covers and also painting designs on the blades of her ceiling fan. I am documented all I am doing in photos, and have started a 'portfolio' of work I can carry around with me. When I figure out pricing for things (my worst area - everyone tells me I completely underpriced my jewelry) and add it to the book. If things seem to take off, I could talk to smaller, independent shops around here to carry my pieces.

Here are some pictures of some of the things I've been making lately

So tell me what you think! Does this seem like a viable option for me? Do you think that these four things are all related or that it is spreading too thin? Where would you expect to see some of these items/services priced?

Comments

( 12 thoughts — Whatcha' think? )
trouble841
Sep. 4th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
It's the state of the IT business that has me working 450 miles from home. :(

Good luck in your search.
genebob
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
"do what you love and the money will follow".

I spoke to a FoM in SoCal tonight .. about 9 months ago he posted a special resume onto Monster targeting his Dream Job, not even knowing if such a thing existed. Three days ago he got a call. One interview happened. The next day, they paraded him around the company as the new employee. So yes, It Can Happen.
trshtwns01
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
I really hope it does succeed.

I spent the day all dressed up down at Right Management. Great services I'm going to take full advantage of, but I'm also going to tap them for going into business for myself.
semantique
Sep. 4th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Take this from someone who markets to small business and has been doing this for years...

When I used to sell a product (organizing someone's office in one day) - I spent a LOT of time marketing myself and doing sales leads. So- that product had to be set at such a higher price b/c the time it takes to land a client for a one or two day project has to be incorporated into your time and then it also becomes a harder sell due to price. Plus you have to identify need/want issues with people and what I do (which will be different from you) can be VERY disruptive to someone's every day life.

It is very nice to have a consistent set of clients because you can sort of 'count' on a revenue stream. You can fill in your book with repeat customers so to speak. One of the biggest drawbacks to being self employed is that when you go on vacation NO MONEY comes in.

My mom did a LOT of craftsy things and sold them for years while she was a telephone operator. She was such a perfectionist over her items and spent way too much time on them that I thought she was lucky if she ended up selling the item for what is cost her in materials and booth rental space - I don't even think she made minimum wage. She enjoyed it so it didn't much matter to her in the end.

Now, all of that being said - many days I love my job - right now I'm in a shit storm that I can't quite extricate myself out of - but it is getting better. I love that it can be flexible - however - I also have a pretty good work ethic so I am working too long some days in order to complete a task or get something accomplished depsite the kids or dinner or whatever has to be done - I am still trying to find that balance.

The other thing you NEED to consider is how much money you NEED to have per week/month. Figure out what the breakdown cost of that is per day so you can keep track of how much you need to be generating to make that income.

Most people get started as a sole-proprietor and self-employment tax is HIGH - like 40%. I am a sole-proprietor and essentially whatever is withheld out of Ben's paycheck per year goes to pay my self-employment tax. My taxes are offset by expenses - biggest expenses are my home office (I can help you with how to track this) MILEAGE - this is huge and you need to keep a mileage log - like any time you go buy beads is an expense - if you bought a soda through the drive thru on the way to buy beads - that is deductible - and the expenses you have to purchase in order to produce your product. You should buy a copy of Quicken Home/Business at a minimum - but should look into getting a copy of Quickbooks Pro.

You can convert to a corporation but then you are required to pay yourself payroll taxes - including FICA and then you have to do those quarterly filings - and you can do them yourself - but it may be best to have a CPA do it so they can intervene on your behalf to the IRS if there is an issue - they are far more knowledgeable about tax laws.

I hope I don't sound like debbie-downer but this is what I have learned after doing this for 5+ years. You are incredibly smart and hard working and I think you could do very well at your own business - There are many days when I miss corporate and want to run back but you also cannot escape the pull of having a flexible schedule and not having to ask permission to take a vacation :)

1smart1
Sep. 5th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
You and I are thinking along the same lines - this is not going to be some small-time operation. We are witnessing the formation of a major business.

Go Trish!!
semantique
Sep. 5th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
She doesn't do anything half-assed - of course it will be big :)
trshtwns01
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
This is GREAT info! You don't sound down at all, but instead like someone imparting wisdom they have gleaned over years of working with small business owners.

THANKS!
standbackstevie
Sep. 4th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
What I think is that you are amazingly talented and smart!!! It definitely sounds like a viable option for you, and I wish you the best of luck and MUCH happiness! You've got GUTS, sistah! :)
trshtwns01
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
Lots of guts for someone with low self-esteem, huh? *laugh*

I got my Anders catalog today, so I can't wait to see what new Auburn schwag is out there.

OH! At Home Depot the other day I noticed that they now have carpet you can either get as rugs or full carpeting - NFL, NHL, MLB, and COLLEGE!!!! The Auburn would be cool as a small rug. Might be a BIT overwhelming as wall-to-wall carpeting *laugh*
1smart1
Sep. 5th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
This is so cool!!! I'm very excited for you.

When I read that you were going back into your artsy side, I was going to suggest things like switchplate covers, tissue boxes and pull knobs (which reminds me, I have a set of custom fish pull knobs for the LG's bathroom that I have yet to install). You know me. Those are the things I LOVE, and they're so hard to find.

When you get up enough samples, I can give you lists of stores who carry unique artsy items to help you market your works. I can also help you find arts festivals, if that's what you're interested in. At the very least, I can put you in touch with other people who market unique arts items and you can talk to them about where they've had their best sales successes.

This could be big for you. I'm excited!
trshtwns01
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
Pull knobs? Like drawer pull knobs? Door knobs? That would be a great idea!!!

Yeah, I think I'm going to focus on a core set of things for my main products: fan pulls, serving trays, outlet covers, switchplates, storage boxes, tissue box covers and things like that.

For working with my friend's dog business, I'll do mostly leash hangers, raised feeding stations, collars and any of my above home items but with dog motifs.

I would LOVE to have your help with marketing, especially to people like your mom who have a bunch of quirky art items *laugh* The contacts for those stores are the part I am lacking. I'm not sure what I need to provide them with to get my foot in the door.
natf
Sep. 6th, 2008 11:15 am (UTC)
That MySpace link just takes me to the MySpaceUK home page, I am afraid...

I am hoping to start to do something similar. Good luck!
( 12 thoughts — Whatcha' think? )